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Aachen Coat of Arms

Aachen is a free city within the Holy Roman Empire and a historic spa, lying about 45 mi. west of Cologne on the northern edge of the Ardennes Mountains, in a warm, moist climate. For centuries Aachen has been famous for its warm sulphur medicinal springs.

A watering place in the Roman period, it was named Aquae Grani. By 470 AD, the Franks had driven the Romans out of the city. Charlemagne lived here, and the oldest part of the Minster Cathedral is the Aix-la-Chapelle Chapel, built between 796 and 805 as Charlemagne's palace chapel. Charlemagne was buried here in 814, and most of his successors were crowned here until 1531. After the coronation of emperors was moved to Frankfurt-am-Main, Aachen declined in importance. The Grashaus ("grass house") was built in the 13th century as a town hall, looking over the medieval village green of the city, where executions and folk festivals took place. This building became too small and was replaced by a new town all in the 14th century.

Goods produced in and around Aachen include lead, silver, zinc, cloth, glassware, pig iron, needles and tools. Aachen serves as a Market centre for the city of Gladbach and the Duchy of Julich. Population (c.1650), 44,067.