Route Charlemagne and more (NRW - Germany)

Charlemagne - From Aachen to Aluva

We reached Aachen at 9:00AM and obviously it wasn't the time we could check-in into our hotel, Hampton by Hilton Aachen. We left our bags at the hotel and we had 2 options - climb Lousberg Hill or walk Gut Kaisersruh trail. While the walking trail was tempting, we had much more walking to do in the evening, so we chose the Lousberg. Why its called Lousberg is unknown, but one of the reasons could be because Emperor Charlemagne's son was Louis! So now, who is Charlemagne?  Read about that in the earlier blogpost.


Climbing Lousberg is easy. It has a motorable/wheelchair/stroller friendly road as well as staircase. Atop Lousberg are a couple of things to see. Ofcourse there is the sculpture of Devil and the Lady, then there are Ancient Columns/Aachen Acropolis, an Obelisk, and ofcourse the view point. Ancient Columns / Aachen Acropolis is pretty much misleading. It only belongs to after 1806 CE, when the landscaping of this region began. It was a part of Belvedere restaurant & casino which were destroyed during World Wars, and only these columns survived. 

The Obelisk belongs to 1815 CE to honour of geographer Tranchot with a eulogy for Napoleon. It replaced the damaged one that was already there since 1807 CE! There's also the Devil & Marketlady sculpture, Lousberg Pavilion and Observation tower. We did picnic out there sitting on the grass in the bright sunny noon!

Our afternoon began with Aachen Cathedral and after that we explored the city. The most important walking tour would be to follow the Route Charlemagne, which begins at Centre Charlemagne.  A quick tour this is needed to understand Charlemagne and the city! Its located right beside the Cathedral and this square is a rather quiet, peaceful place to hang out with no commercial establishments or kiosks!

Around the town are these 3 disks on the floor, embossed with his royal emblem & sign, telling the direction to continue. The next stop was the Rathaus (townhall) which was unfortunately closed when we visited. Its usually open, but can be closed for events! We stopped over, next, at Grashaus (old town hall).  Its beginnings is from 1267 CE. This too is closed for public but the 7 sculptures atop the gate here must be noted. In the times of Charlemagne, a semi-democracy was in practice! Well, when I say semi, the emperor was voted by & chosen among the 7 kings of the states!
Next stop was Elisbrunnen and its garden behind it. Aachen was a thermal baths destination, ages ago. Romans excessively exploited the medicinal properties of the Sulphur rich hot springs! There are about 30 thermal springs around here! This is why you'd see 'Bad Aachen' in several boards, the town's original name - Bath Aachen in German. Sadly it is not so now! Efforts were made to revive promote the baths but there hasn't been much success. There is only one functioning spa currently, in the outskirts, near Hampton Hotel, called Carolus Thermen. But guess what, this makes it a fantastic spot for baths without much crowd like Budapest or Spa! Elisbrunnen was one such location and today there are 2 hot water spring here just to have an idea. 

In this garden are also the Archaeological Window showcasing the excavations of Aachen. Aachen under Roman empire was  20-30 hectares. Recently excavations happened in 2000 sqm. Today 60sqm is open for public to view. This is in several layers depicting Aachen since stone age (4700-4550 BCE) through roman empire through middle ages. Its an egg shaped building when you see it from atop. Such windows, but smaller, are present in multiple places across Aachen including Town Hall, Cathedral etc.
Our next stop was Conven Museum, but it was almost closing by the time we were there! However we just stopped for a few moments at its 'Pharmacy room'. Its a house originally built in 1662, but was renovated in Rococo style in 1786. The house is still maintained as how a normal house would have been in 1700s! 
Just beside this are these Roman arches! This place is called the Roman Portico. However this isn't the original. The original coloumns and arches are in the Archaeological museum in Bonn. Its a replica here. Its a lively square surrounded by several restaurants and bars and this portico is where all the kids play!!!
So, how many know of Charlemagne already? Most Europeans would know who he is, as well as people from Kerala in India!!! That's an absolute weird connection isn't it? Well, Kerala is in the west coast of India and it was one of the prime locations where traders and explorers from Europe, landed in, including Vasco da Gama. //Columbus wanted to do that and went the other way and stumbled upon America and thought he's in India, which is why the Native Americans called are Indians!//. Kerala is the state where all 3 major religions (Hinduism, Christianity and Islam) have a major presence. 
During colonization, unusual art forms propped up here, which were a combination of Indian & Western arts, including, Chavittu Nadagam. While the art style, language and costumes were Indian, the stories enacted in this dance drama form were western. One of the primary stories - Caralman Charithram. Charithram is History and Caralman is.... did you guess....... ofcourse, Charlemagne!!! Here's a 1 hr long, video of the performance in the YouTube channel of Kerala Tourism. These performances are usually night long and happen in village festivals with live music in outdoors, which is why the color & shine of the outfits and exaggeration of enactments!


To Stay: 
Hotels at most price points (budget to semi-luxury) are available in the city.
Click to read my review of Hampton by Hilton, Aachen where we stayed.

To Get There:
Nearest Railway Station: Aachen HBF (all Aachen sites are walkable from here; Lousberg can be reached by public transport in 30 mins)

Entry tickets & timings:
Lousberg, Elisbrunnen, Archaeological Window, Roman Portico - Free; Open 24 x 7
Aachen Cathedral: Refer my earlier post.
Grashaus: Closed to public normally. Can be visited only with guided tour pre-booked via email.
Carolus Thermen: from 12; 9:00AM to 11:00PM Daily. Children below 6yrs not allowed.
Conven Museum: €6; 9:00AM to 5:00PM Tue-Sun
Rathaus: €6; 10:00AM to 6:00PM Daily; Can be exceptionally closed for events
Route Charlemagne: Interactive Tour

My complete Aachen & Cologne travelogue: Aachen Cathedral, Route Charlemagne, Cologne Cathedral, Brühl Augustusburg Palace

P.S: I was invited by NRW & Aachen Tourism to experience the city for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

13 comments:

  1. I like how you visit these offbeat places that we do not know commonly. Aachen seems really pretty with that hike to Lousberg along with so many things to see on the way. I would love to spend a weekend here.

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  2. Jane Dempster-SmithJuly 23, 2019 at 2:10 PM

    Thanks for the information re Charlemagne, I have heard of if but never really understood. Aachen looks a pretty place to visit and to enjoy a walking tour around the city as well. The hike up to Lousberg looked a great way to spend the morning. I am pleased that it is wheelchair and pram friendly as well.

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  3. That's something I had never heard of. I know there is one Charlemagne route in the south of France but far from my knowledge of one in Germany. What a wonderful combination of ancient ruins, rural villages, and natural scenery.

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  4. I love that Aachen is basically set up to do your own self guided walking tour to follow the route of Charlemagne. He is someone I always heard about in history books and it is so cool to see the places he went. I love the easy to access view point on the hill the view from there is wonderful. Bummer the baths are no longer available, I would love to take a soak. Thanks for the tour of Aachen!

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  5. It is funny that people from Kerala know Charlemagne but as you explained, it is because many European traders and travellers frequently landed there! I have, personally, never heard of him and also not familiar with the route of Charlemagne. The old town hall must have been a good place to visit, I imagine!

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  6. Now, that's what I can an off-the-beaten-path place! The views from Lousberg Hill are really beautiful.

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  7. I would love to follow the paths that Charlemagne took. We are history buffs and this would be perfect for us. It’s sad that there aren’t more thermal springs baths here anymore. I think I would like to visit Carolus Thermen.

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  8. If I ever visit Aachen I'll definitely take the hike to Lousberg, it sounds like such a nice experience. The view from the top looks stunning. I have to admit I didn't know anything about Charlemagne and that I learned a lot from this (and your previous article).

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  9. Looks like a great city to explore. I love walking around a corner to find a gorgeous church like Aachen Cathedral. Bummer to reach Conven Museum at closing time, old homes are the best and 1662 is an impressed age

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  10. Interesting to see Roman influences (and columns) everywhere. I like the sneak window into the archaeological site. Wondering if they are going to continue to dig and explore more ?

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  11. I am actually not at all familiar! love discovering new, less touristy destinations. That skyline view is stunning!

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  12. I heard Charlemagne back.in my school years and I know that he has been an important leader in those days. It was awesome that you've visited his town and how impressive it is. Visiting museums would be more fun.

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  13. I haven't heard of Charlemagne before. It's really nice to know about Aachen. The cathedral, old town, and town hall look so pretty and I would certainly love to spend a week there.

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