Aachen is a small city located in the northwest corner of Germany near the border with Belgium and the Netherlands. This spa town is known for its thermal baths and its historical ties to the Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne. The Emperor was fond of the city because of its thermal healing springs and was his preferred residence during his life.
The Aachen Cathedral attracts many visitors to the city and was not only the coronation site for over 30 German Kings, but it is also the final resting place of Charlemagne himself. Many other sites throughout the city including the Town Hall and the Charlemagne Center are also great to see on your visit to Aachen. While you’re here, take a break at the thermal baths of the city which are said to have medicinal healing properties.
The city of Essen grew rapidly during the industrialization of the 19th century. The ironworks, steelworks, and coal mines stimulated the Essen economy and it grew from a small city to a bustling industry center.
During World War II it played an integral part of German war industry and was subsequently demolished by Allied forces. As mentioned, coal was once the leading industry, but all the mines have since closed. The Zollverein coal-mine complex, once the largest in the world, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Another site includes the Folkwang Museum that houses great works of Picasso, Monet, and more.
Lying in what at first seems like the industrial suburbs of Cologne, Augustusburg Palace was the sumptuous residence of the prince-archbishops of Cologne and is among the finest examples of Rococo architecture in 18th-century Germany.
Just around the corner, you'll find a museum paying homage to Brühl's most famous son, the artist Max Ernst, a primary pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism who was once married to Peggy Guggenheim. Brühl is also the perfect location for a family day out thanks to the nearby Phantasialand theme park.
Take a short train ride to what was until the fall of the Berlin Wall the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Bonn has reverted back to provincial status, but plenty remains to see of its former capital status, including the modern government district and a general spread of fascinating museums, all located near a very attractive stretch of the Rhine River.
The city also makes the most of its associations with Beethoven, who was born here and whose birthplace has been turned into a museum also.