Aachen Cathedral (Dom) I
Practical I Hotels in Aachen
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
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
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