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Palace of Aachen

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Source: Yann

The Palace of Aachen was a group of buildings with residential, political and religious purposes chosen by Charlemagne to be the centre of power of the Carolingian Empire. The palace was located at the north of the current city of Aachen, today in the German Land of North Rhine-Westphalia. Most of the Carolingian palace was built in the 790s but the works went on until Charlemagne's death in 814. The plans, drawn by Odo of Metz, were part with the programme of renovation of the kingdom decided by the ruler. Today much of the palace is destroyed, but the Palatine Chapel has been preserved and is considered as a masterpiece of Carolingian architecture and a characteristic example of architecture from the Carolingian Renaissance.
In ancient times, the Romans chose the site of Aachen for its thermal springs and its forward position towards Germania. The site, called Aquae Granni, was equipped with 50 acres of thermae that remained in use from the 1st to the 4th century. The Roman city grew in connection with the thermae according to a classical grid plan similar to that of Roman legions' camps. A palace was used to accommodate the governor of the province or the Emperor. In the 4th century, the city and the palace were destroyed during the Barbarian invasions. Clovis made Paris the capital of the Frankish Kingdom, and Aachen Palace was abandoned until the advent of the Carolingian dynasty. The Pippinid Mayors of the Palace carried out some restoration works, but it was at the time only one residence among others. The Frankish court was itinerant and the rulers moved according to the circumstances. Around 765, Pepin the Short had a palace erected over the remains of the old Roman building; he had the thermae restored and removed its pagan idols. As soon as he came to power in 768, Charlemagne spent time in Aachen as well as in other villas in Austrasia. In the 790s, he decided to settle down in order to govern his kingdom, then his empire more efficiently.


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