There are so many reasons I love Aachen and I feel so at home in the city that I never feel as if I am in a foreign country when I am there. Though it is not exactly close to my house, I find myself in Aachen very frequently. It was one of the first cities in Germany that I visited upon arriving here and so I thought that may have something to do with my affection for the city. However, after returning to Germany after a five month stay in the UK, I have found that I still love Aachen. It is one of my favourite cities, and I have now been to many, in Europe.
Aachen has an international university and so there are a lot of young people who speak English living in the city. Though I make an effort to use German on a daily basis, sometimes it is really nice to be able to have a stress-free conversation with a person my age in a language that I actually speak. This makes me undoubtedly biased in my fondness for the locals. The shopping is a minor blow to my Achilles heel but I have never actually bought anything there.
Aachen is the only city in the world that I would go to just to walk around in the rain. It is usually raining in Aachen though, so it is not as if I have a choice. Being in Aachen feels like walking through the contents of a broken time warp. It is as if the time continuum just picked up all kinds of buildings from history and plunked them down in no particular order. There are new buildings sharing walls with 500 year-old houses and stores. There are stone towers amalgamated into city structures and Charlemagne left behind a few gems for the world to appreciate. The history of the city stretches back thousands of years and by some miracle it has remained charming and mundane, despite the grandeur of its past.
In the middle of the city is the Kaiser Dom, one of my favourite buildings in the world. Even though I have now seen much larger and more grand cathedrals, I have never seen one so SPARKLY! You would never be able to guess by looking at the outside of the cathedral, which is beautiful but still the standard facade of a cathedral, that the interior is so incredible. The cathedral was built almost a thousand years ago as the Palatial Chapel for Charlemagne, when Aachen was the seat of his Empire. When you enter the cathedral, the walls and ceiling are covered in incredible mosaic tiling that sparkles in the light. There are so many incredible colours that it is hard to absorb everything you are looking at.