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Aachen is a city that seamlessly unites tradition and progress – it was ranked eighth among cities in Germany for innovation and boasts one of the country’s leading technological universities, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule. Aachen has become a hub of applied science largely as a by-product of this, and its steady output of research for sunrise industries has attracted international enterprises and enabled the flourishing of start-ups. The appeal of Aachen for the 50,000-strong student population, especially disciples of technology and engineering, is clear. The city possesses an exuberant, ludic quality that can be equally felt contemplating the gilded shrine of Charlemagne as sipping Glühwein in a café.

Things to do in Aachen

Historical sites – Aachen Cathedral is undoubtedly the crowning jewel and historical nucleus of the city, and the resting place of Charlemagne himself. Gothic extensions were added to the cathedral’s 796AD foundations during the Middle Ages, with a tower added as recently as 1884, resulting in a conglomeration of architectural styles which somehow elegantly hang together. Aachen Rathaus is another central feature and an architecture student’s fantasy – the city’s town hall is a splendid Gothic building with fifty imposing statues of German rulers adorning its façade.

Art and culture – Thanks to a tradition of pilgrimages, the Diocese of Aachen possesses a mother lode of precious artefacts and an impressive art collection, all of which are on display in the Dom treasury. For a more interactive stroll through the aeons, visit Centre Charlemagne – beginning in the Roman era and entailing the life of the great man himself, the museum chronicles the duration of Aachen’s history. Or for something more modern, the Ludwig Forum for International Art is a multidisciplinary home of contemporary art, housing eclectic collections from the likes of Warhol, Lichenstein and Immendorf.

Landmarks – A dip in the Carolus Therme Spa is a must in Aachen. This spanking new complex opened in 2000 and invites visitors to relax in the thermal temperatures à la the Romans. The spa contains standard municipal baths for the fainter of heart, and a nude sauna and swimming area for those who wish to capture the authentic spa experience. Undergo extreme relaxation in the name of cultural heritage – enjoy a Baltic Sauna Landscape or oriental baths as a well-deserved break from your studies.

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