Aachen - Palatine Chapel - Charlemagne
Quatr.us answers questions

Aachen Chapel

Aachen cathedral (begun 792 AD)

One of the first ambitious buildings in Western Europe after the fall of Rome was Charlemagne's chapel at his capital of Aachen (now in northern Germany) about 792 AD. Charlemagne thought of himself as re-creating the Roman Empire, so he wanted to build an impressive church that would show that he was a very important, Roman kind of guy.

Charlemagne's architect, Odo of Metz, built the Aachen chapel in an early version of the Romanesque style. Odo probably was thinking of late Roman buildings in Ravenna, which this looks like. According to Charlemagne's historian Einhard, some of the marble and mosaics at Aachen were actually shipped to Charlemagne by the Pope from Rome and Ravenna for this church. The alternation of red and white blocks in the arches, however, seems to owe more to recent Islamic buildings like the Mosque at Cordoba (built about 784 AD), and to the older Dome of the Rock (built in 691 AD) than to any Christian building. The Cordoba mosque also showed how Roman the new rulers were by re-using Roman materials.

Aachen's chapel is also one of the first European buildings to have three arched doors in the west wall, as soon became common for many Romanesque and later Gothic churches. Odo may have gotten the idea from Islamic mosques that also have three arches in the entryway.

Learn by doing: build a red and white arch out of Lego
More about Charlemagne
More about the Romanesque

Bibliography and further reading about Aachen:

Medieval architecture
Middle Ages
Quatr.us home

Professor Carr

Karen Eva Carr, PhD.
Assoc. Professor Emerita, History
Portland State University

Professor Carr holds a B.A. with high honors from Cornell University in classics and archaeology, and her M.A. and PhD. from the University of Michigan in Classical Art and Archaeology. She has excavated in Scotland, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, and Tunisia, and she has been teaching history to university students for a very long time.

Professor Carr's PSU page

Help support Quatr.us!

Quatr.us (formerly "History for Kids") is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

With the Presidential inauguration this weekend, it's a good time to review the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and all the Constitutional amendments since the Bill of Rights. Also check out our articles on people who have been excluded from power in the United States - Native Americans, people of color, Mormons, Quakers, women...