AACHEN 
Dom

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The minster ranks first among the church buildings; it consists of three distinct parts: the octagon, the choir, and the crown, or ring, of chapels, the octagon forming the central portion. This last is the most important monument of Carolingian architecture, it was built between 796 and 804, in the reign of Charlemagne, by Master Odo of Metz, and modelled after the Italian circular church of San Vitale at Ravenna. It was consecrated by Pope Leo III. It is an eight-angled, domed building, 54 feet in diameter, with a sixteen-sided circumference of 120 feet, and a height of 124 feet.

The interior of the dome is adorned with mosaics on a gold ground, executed by Salviati of Venice, in 1882, representing Our Lord surrounded by the four and twenty Ancients of the Apocalypse. The main building was decorated with marble and mosaics in 1902, after the designs of H. Schaper. Over the spot supposed to be the site of Charlemagne's grave hangs an enormous corona of lamps, the gift of the Emperor Frederick I, Barbarossa; in the choir of the octagon, the so-called upper minster, stands Charlemagne's throne, made of great-slabs of white marble, where, after the coronation, the German emperors received the homage of their nobles.

The rich upper choir, built in Gothic style, joins on to the eastern side of the octagon; it was begun in the second half of the fourteenth century, and dedicated in 1414. The thirteen windows, each 100 feet high, have been filled with new coloured glass; on the pillars betwen them stand fourteen statues (the Mother of God, the Twelve Apostles, and Charlemagne), dating from the fifteenth century. Among the treasures of the choir should be mentioned the famous Gospel-pulpit, enriched with gold plates, the gift of the Emperor Henry II, the throne canopy of the fifteenth century the new Gothic high altar of 1876, and the memorial stone which marks the spot where the Emperor Otto III formerly lay.

The lower portions of the bell-tower, to the west of the octagon, belong to the Carolingian period, the Gothic superstructure dates from 1884. Of the chapels which surround the whole building, the so-called Hungarian chapel contains the minster treasury, which includes a large number of relics, vessels, and vestments, the most important being those known as the four "Great Relics," namely, the cloak of the Blessed Virgin, the swaddling-clothes of the Infant Jesus, the loin-cloth worn by Our Lord on the Cross, and the cloth on which lay the head of St. John the Baptist after his beheading. They are exposed every seven years and venerated by thousands of pilgrims.