That was the first question that popped into my head after my highschool teacher’s “big announcement”. You see, Aachen was supposed to be our last class trip destination before going our separate ways to universities. From all of the places in Germany, what made Aachen stand out so much? Let me show you what this “city to fall in love with” has to offer.
The name of the city Aachen can be derived from the Old High German word “ahha” which stands for water or stream. The hotsprings of Aachen have been well known for more than 2000 years and are inseparably connected with the history of the town. The Carolus thermal waters which remind us of the Ancient Roman bathing tradition, are nowadays one of the most modern wellness baths in Europe. If you are looking for the perfect escape from everyday life, you have just found your spot to relax.
What would you say for a weekend hiking trip with spectacular panoramic views? Aachen, as the most western city in Germany, is located only 5 kilometres away from the highest hill in the Netherlands, the 323-meter-high Vaalserberg. This is the place where the German border meets Belgium and the Netherlands. Except for various hiking trails, the area attracts the “three-country labyrinth” as well as an impressive skywalk, a viewing platform with a glass floor. Now tell me: didn’t you ever dream about being in three places at once?
For our city explorers out there, let you be guided by Charlemagne through the historic centre of Aachen! The route starts at the Elisenbrunnen fountain, the symbol of Aachen as a spa and bathing city and leads past the most important sights of the town. Follow the traces of the Emperor of the Romans, if you don’t want to miss any special places!
Did you know that every fifth inhabitant of Aachen is a student? That is one of the reasons why studying in Aachen can be described as a vibrant and unique experience. The student lifestyle revolves around the northwestern city district, the Pontviertel, referred to as “Ponte”.
Starting with the Ponttor behind you, the Pontstraße leads you through the town’s market square. Walking down the main street, you pass by various pubs, bars and clubs for a good evening out. A few meters further, you come across cafes and restaurants where you and your fellow students meet for a break between classes. And guess what: you can get a full lunch with a side dish and a drink for less than 15 euros!
Craving for something sweet after lunch? Then you have to try the city's local speciality, Aachener Printen! Somewhat similar to gingerbread, they are originally sweetened with honey and in the shape of a bar. Printen are made from a variety of ingredients such as cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cardamon, coriander and of course ginger, which exact mixture is a close kept secret of the individual bakeries. These ingredients are usually associated with Christmas, but due to the great demand for Printen, they are available all year round - for to go with your ice coffee during summer and as a sweet gift from Santa.
Looking back at that one-week excursion to Aachen in high school, I can only say: it was worth it! The city may not be big, but it has a lot to offer, especially for students. It was ranked as one of the top 10 student cities in Germany. It offers high-quality education with one of the most famous technical universities in Europe yet an affordable student lifestyle. The historical site of the city is enriched with modern facilities and the natural monuments with present-day solutions. The best part is that Aachen shares its borders with the Netherlands and Belgium. You can hop on a bus and be within 20 minutes at a fish market to buy fresh seafood from the Dutch or go shopping for a Kwak beer at the Belgian side of the border.
So what would possibly make this city even more attractive for students? Let me tell you: a brand new student accommodation!