Germany: Aachen – Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Europe, built by Charlemagne in 796. He was later buried here. It is also known as Imperial Cathedral – 30 German Kings and 12 Queens were coronated here. The building is not as impressive on the outside as some of the more modern 12/13th century Gothic behemoths, but inside it is just surreal. Marble of all colors and shapes covers the floors and columns in rich ornaments and scenes. The cupola is golden Bysantine mosaics of amazing detail and quality. The entire ceiling basically glows gold! You just stand there with a wide opened mouth until you neck hurts or someone asks you something in German. The cathedral is surrounded by other buildings right in the heart of Aachen, so it’s not easy to photograph. And a block away is a beautiful Rathaus (City Hall) building. It’s one of the first UNESCO sites in Germany.