Aachen, also known as Bad Aachen (Ripuarian: Óche, Limburgish: Aoke, French: Aix-la-Chapelle, Dutch: Aken, Latin: Aquisgrana) is a spa town in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, at the foot of the Eifel and Ardennes Plateaus. Sometimes in English (especially in old use), the city is referred to as Aix-la-Chapelle. Aachen was a favoured residence of Charlemagne, and later the place of coronation of the German kings, which is where it gained the reference as the "watering-place of kings." Geographically, Aachen is the westernmost city of Germany, located along its borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, west-southwest of Cologne. It is located within a former coal-mining region, and this fact was important in its economic history. RWTH Aachen University, one of Germany's Universities of Excellence, is located in the city.Cite error 3; Invalid call; invalid keys, e.g. too many or wrong key specified Aachen's predominant economic focus is on science, engineering, information technology and related sectors. In 2009, Aachen was ranked 8th among cities in Germany for innovation.
Flint quarries on the Lousberg, Schneeberg, and Königshügel, first used during Neolithic times (3,000–2,500 ..), attest to the long occupation of the site of Aachen, as do recent finds under the modern city's Elisengarten pointing to a former settlement from the same period. Bronze Age (ca. 1600 ..) settlement is evidenced by the remains of barrows (burial mounds) found, for example, on the Klausberg. During the Iron Age, the area was settled by Celtic peoples who were perhaps drawn by the marshy Aachen basin's hot sulphur springs where they worshiped Grannus, god of light and healing.
Later, the 25-hectare Roman spa resort town of Aquae Granni was, according to legend, founded by Grenus, under Hadrian, in ca. .. 124. Instead, the fictitious founder refers to the Celtic god, and it seems it was the Roman 6th Legion at the start of the 1st century that first channelled the hot springs into a spa at Büchel, adding at the end of the same century the Münstertherme spa, two water pipelines, and a likely sanctuary dedicated to Grannus. A kind of forum, surrounded by colonnades, connected the two spa complexes. There was also an extensive residential area, part of it inhabited by a flourished Jewish community. The Romans built bathhouses near Burtscheid. A temple precinct called Vernenum was built near the modern Kornelimünster/Walheim. Today, all that remains are two fountains in the Elisenbrunnen and the Burtscheid bathhouse.
Roman civil administration fell apart in Aachen between the end of the 4th and beginning of the 5th centuries. Rome withdrew its troops from the area but the town remained populated. By 470, the town came to be ruled by the Ripuarian Franks and subordinated to their capital, Cologne.
After Roman times, Pepin the Short had a castle residence built in the town, and Einhard mentions that in 765–6 Pippin spent both Christmas and Easter at Aquis villa (""), which must have been sufficiently equipped to support the royal household for several months. In the year of his coronation as King of Franks, 768, Charlemagne came to spend Christmas at Aachen for the first time. This is in dispute, as some history books state that Charlemagne was in fact born in Aachen in 742. He went on to remain there in a mansion which he may have extended, although there is no source attesting to any significant building activity at Aachen in his time, apart from the building of the Palatine Chapel in Aachen (since 1929, cathedral) and the palatial presentation halls. Charlemagne spent most winters in Aachen between 792 and his death in 814. Aachen became the focus of his court and the political centre of his empire. After his death, the king was buried in the church which he had built; his original tomb has been lost, while his alleged remains are preserved in the shrine where he was reburied after being declared a saint; his saintliness, however, was never very widely acknowledged outside. In 936, Otto I was crowned king of the kingdom in the collegiate church built by Charlemagne. While Otto II ruled, the nobles revolted and the West Franks, under Lothair, raided Aachen in the ensuing confusion. Aachen was attacked again, this time by Odo of Champagne who attacked the imperial palace while Conrad was absent. He relinquished it quickly and was killed soon thereafter. Over the next 500 years, most kings of Germany destined to reign over the Holy Roman Empire were crowned in Aachen. Charles IV was not crowned in Aachen after his father John died in battle, due to Aachen siding with Ludwig, in a dispute dating back twenty years. So he was crowned in Bonn. The last king to be crowned here was Ferdinand I in 1531. During the Middle Ages, Aachen remained a city of regional importance, due to its proximity to Flanders, achieving a modest position in the trade in woollen cloths, favoured by imperial privilege. The city remained a Free imperial city, subject to the Emperor only, but was politically far too weak to influence the policies of any of its neighbours. The only dominion it had was over Burtscheid, a neighbouring territory ruled by a Benedictine abbess. It was forced to accept that all of its traffic must pass through the "Aachener Reich". Even in the late 18th century the Abbess of Burtscheid was prevented from building a road linking her territory to the neighbouring estates of the duke of Jülich; the city of Aachen even deployed its handful of soldiers to chase away the road-diggers.
16th through 18th centuries
As an imperial city, Aachen held certain political advantages that allowed it to remain independent of the troubles of Europe for many years. It remained a direct vassal of the Holy Roman Empire throughout most of the Middle Ages. It also was the site of many important church councils. These included the Council of 837, and the Council of 1166, a council convened by the antipope Paschal III. In 1598, following the invasion of Spanish troops from the Netherlands, Rudolf deposed all Protestant office holders in Aachen and even went as far as expelling them from the city. From the early 16th century, Aachen started losing its power and influence. It started with the crowning of emperors occurring not in Aachen but in Frankfurt, followed by the religious wars, and the great fire of 1656. It then culminated in 1794, when the French, led by General Charles Dumouriez, occupied Aachen.
Aachen became attractive as a spa by the middle of the 17th century, not so much because of the effects of the hot springs on the health of its visitors but because Aachen was then – and remained well into the 19th century – a place of high-level prostitution in Europe. Traces of this hidden agenda of the city's history is found in the 18th-century guidebooks to Aachen as well as to the other spas; the main indication for visiting patients, ironically, was syphilis; only by the end of the 19th century had rheuma become the most important object of cures at Aachen and Burtscheid. Aachen was chosen as the site of several important congresses and peace treaties: the first congress of Aachen (often referred to as the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in English) on May 2, 1668, leading to the First Treaty of Aachen in the same year which ended the War of Devolution. The second congress ended with the second treaty in 1748, ending the War of the Austrian Succession. In 1789, there was a constitutional crisis within the Aachen government.
On 9 February 1801, the Peace of Lunéville removed the ownership of Aachen and the entire "left bank" of the Rhine from Germany and granted it to France. In 1815, control of the town was passed to Prussia, by an act that was passed by the Congress of Vienna. The third congress took place in 1818 to decide the fate of occupied Napoleonic France.
By the middle of the 19th century, industrialisation swept away most of the city's medieval rules of production and commerce, although the entirely corrupt remains of the city's medieval constitution were kept in place (compare the famous remarks of Georg Forster in his Ansichten vom Niederrhein) until 1801, when Aachen became the "chef-lieu du département de la Roer" in Napoleon's First French Empire. In 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars, the Kingdom of Prussia took over and the city became one of its most socially and politically backward centres until the end of the 19th century. Administered within the Rhine Province, by 1880 the population was 80,000. Starting in 1838, the railway from Cologne to Belgium passed through Aachen. The city suffered extreme overcrowding and deplorable sanitary conditions up to 1875 when the medieval fortifications were finally abandoned as a limit to building operations and new, less miserable quarters were built in the eastern part of the city, where drainage of waste liquids was easiest. In December 1880, the Aachen tramway network was opened, and in 1895 it was electrified. In the 19th century and up to the 1930s, the city was important for the production of railway locomotives and carriages, iron, pins, needles, buttons, tobacco, woollen goods, and silk goods.
After World War I, Aachen was occupied by the Allies until 1930. Aachen was one of the locations involved in the ill-fated Rhenish Republic. On 21 October 1923 an armed band took over city hall. Similar actions took place in Munchen-Gladbach, Duisburg, and Krefeld. This Republic lasted only about a year. Aachen was heavily damaged during World War II. The city and its fortified surroundings were laid siege to from 12 September–21 October 1944 by the US 1st Infantry Division with the 3rd Armored Division assisting from the south. Around 13 October the US 2nd Armored Division played their part, coming from the north and getting as close as Wuerselen, while the 30th Infantry Division played a crucial role in completing the encirclement of Aachen on 16 October 1944. With reinforcements from the US 28th Infantry Division the Battle of Aachen then continued involving direct assaults through the heavily defended city, which finally forced the German garrison to surrender on 21 October 1944. Aachen was the first German city to be captured by the Allies, and its residents welcomed the soldiers as liberators. The city was destroyed partially – and in some parts completely – during the fighting, mostly by American artillery fire and demolitions carried out by the Waffen-SS defenders. Damaged buildings included the medieval churches of St. Foillan, St. Paul and St. Nicholas, and the Rathaus (city hall), although Aachen Cathedral was largely unscathed. Only 4,000 inhabitants remained in the city; the rest had followed evacuation orders. Its first Allied-appointed mayor, Franz Oppenhoff, was assassinated by an SS commando unit.
History of Aachen Jews
During the Roman period, Aachen was the site of a flourishing Jewish community. Later, during the Carolingian empire, a Jewish community was found near the royal palace. In 802, a Jew named Isaac accompanied the ambassador of Charlemagne to Harun al-Rashid. During the 13th Century, many Jews converted to Christianity, as shown in the records of the Church of St. Marry. In 1486, the Jews of Aachen offered gifts to Maximilian the first during his coronation ceremony. In 1629, the Aachen Jewish community was expelled from the city. In 1667, six Jews were allowed to return. Most of the Aachen Jews settled in the nearby town of Burtscheid. On 16 May 1815, the Jewish community of the city offered an homage in its synagogue to the Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhelm the third. A Jewish cemetery was acquired in 1851. 1,345 Jews lived in the city in 1933. The synagogue was destroyed during Kristallnacht in 1938. In 1939, after emigration and arrests, 782 Jews remained in the city. After World War II, only 62 Jews lived there. In 2003, 1,434 Jews were living in Aachen, occasionally suffering of antisemitic incidents at its community facilities. In Jewish texts, the city of Aachen was called Aish, or Ash (אש).
The city of Aachen has developed into a technology hub as a by-product of hosting one of the leading universities of technology in Germany with the RWTH Aachen (Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule), known especially for mechanical engineering, automotive and manufacturing technology as well as for its research and academic hospital Klinikum Aachen, one of the largest medical facilities in Europe.