Aachen: home of Charles The Great and a lot of students.
The Romans nursed their war wounds and stiff joints in the steaming waters of Aachen’s mineral springs, but it was Charlemagne who put the city firmly on the European map. The emperor too enjoyed a dip now and then, but it was more for strategic reasons why, in 794, he made Aachen the geographical and political capital of his vast Frankish Empire. The thermal waters remain a prime attraction to this day, but Aachen’s main lure really is the stunning Dom, which incorporates Charlemagne’s original palace chapel. In 1978, it became Germany’s first monument to be included on Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites.
Aachen shares borders with the Netherlands and Belgium, giving it a distinctly international and lively vibe that’s further enhanced by a large student population.