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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Wedding at the Rathaus

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Rathaus Aachen is a stop on the Charlemagne route.

"Charlemagne (748-814) built a monumental palace in Aachen around 800, which he chose not only as his favorite palace after his imperial coronation in Rome, but also as his center of power. It was bordered in the south by St. Mary's Church and in the north by the King's Hall, on whose foundations today's town hall stands.

Large parts of this Carolingian palace complex are still visible today. The central building of St. Mary's Church, an octagonal domed building surrounded by a sixteen corner, was one of the greatest church buildings north of the Alps. It was surrounded by annex buildings and an atrium, now lost. And it was red - that's what archaeologists discovered."

The Gothic Town Hall

"After the Carolingian royal hall fell into disrepair and was largely demolished in the 13th century, the magistrate agreed with Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian on a new building that would have a dual function: the administrative headquarters of the Free Imperial City and the ballroom for the empire's largest festivals, the coronation banquets. When the building was completed around 1350, it was considered one of the grandest and boldest achievements in secular architecture. The important humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II, described it in 1435 as "the most distinguished palace in all of Germany".

A three-story palace building was built on the foundations and in some preserved remains of the outer walls of the Palatinate, strictly in a west-east orientation. The two main floors were each divided into five almost square bays with cross-ribbed vaults: The Granus Tower, which was preserved from the time of Charlemagne, was increased by three floors and integrated into the building. The north facade was decorated with around 60 figures, which were colored and partly gilded. The impact of this building on contemporaries was so impressive that it became the model for many Flemish town halls, such as Antwerp, Bruges and Ghent."

The Baroque Period

"The roof structure and spires of the town hall fell victim to the city fire of 1656. They quickly decided on new and significantly higher towers in the “modern” Baroque style. From 1727 onwards, the Baroque also became established in façade design. The valuable figural decorations were removed and replaced with stucco elements. The interior design from this period can still be found in the White Hall today. The large imperial hall on the upper floor was divided into individual rooms and subjected to a variety of uses."

"When the great romantic Friedrich Wilhelm IV ascended the throne of Prussia in 1840, the decision was made to restore the "Kaisersaal" to its historical splendor and size. According to the plans of the city master builder Friedrich Ark, a stair tower was built in the south as a representative entrance. Ark also restored the Gothic window structure of the market façade. Another fire in 1883 destroyed the baroque towers, which were replaced in neo-gothic style. With the new figural decoration, the re-Gothicization was completed in 1901."

"In 1943/44 the town hall was badly damaged by bomb attacks. In 1944, but especially from 1946 onwards, security and then reconstruction were pushed forward. As early as 1950, the first International Charlemagne Prize was awarded in the provisionally restored coronation hall. A year later, the council and mayor returned to their historic location.

The main portal, the portal of the western tower and the windows of the coronation hall are by Ewald Mataré. The town hall only received its current shape in 1979 with the new tower helmets designed by Leo Hugot."

The White Hall of the Aachen Town Hall is available at certain times for weddings. The Aachen registry office offers this beautiful, festive room to those wishing to get married every Friday between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and on the last Saturday of the month from April to December between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The ceremonies last 30 minutes each.

"Since 1727, White Hall was magnificently decorated by Italian plasterers into the small ballroom of the town hall. In addition to the free-hand stucco work, the six portraits of important personalities catch the eye. They were envoys from the powers that ended the War of the Austrian Succession with the Peace of Aachen in 1748. The best known among them is the Briton John Montagu, third Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792), famous above all for the sandwiches named after him. His picture hangs on the south wall on the right.

Look at the Italian artists' magnificent outfits: Look for a winged "horse" with a goat's head, a bird's tail and female breasts! In our medallions, we see symbols of ancient rulers' virtues: the bundle of lictors (a Roman civil servant who was an attendant and bodyguard to a magistrate who held imperium) with the yoke, the sword pointing towards heaven between the pillars of Hercules, the Ten Commandments with the scales and finally a lion with a scepter.

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