Emperor Charlemagne Charlemagne in space
To boldly go where no emperor has gone before. Charlemagne is everywhere to be seen in the city.
- Latin: Carolus Magnus
- born c. 747 AD
- crowned Frankish king in 768 AD
- made emperor in 800 AD
- died 814 AD
What not many people know, however, is that the “Father of Europe” has also been to the International Space Station, proving how perfectly history and high-tech go together – especially in Aachen.
When the space shuttle Atlantis lifted off from Cape Canaveral, taking the European laboratory “Columbus” to the ISS, the emperor Charlemagne went with them in the form of the Charlemagne Seal, the bronze medallion which, depicting the enthroned emperor, is a latter-day replica of the oldest seal of the City of Aachen. Carrying the medallion through outer space (in his cabin luggage) was German astronaut Hans Schlegel – as a heartfelt thank-you to Aachen for being part of his life. Hans studied physics at Aachen University and spent 26 years of his life here.
Charlemagne made Aachen the hub of Europe
Being accompanied by the Charlemagne Seal on an important European mission – that’s the kind of symbolism Aacheners love! The grand emperor didn’t just make Aachen the hub of Europe in his day, he laid foundations which have made their mark on the entire continent – in terms of Christianity and also ecclesiastically, economically and culturally. Aachen was where he gathered together the most learned men of his empire, where the written word, imperial court culture and the monastic tradition reached new heights.
It’s no coincidence that the Charlemagne Seal also forms the basis for the medals awarded in Aachen to recipients of the annual International Charlemagne Prize (Internationaler Karlspreis zu Aachen).
And the most visible expression of the glorious past under Charlemagne (Karl der Große) is a building he himself commissioned: Aachen cathedral in the very heart of the city.
Returning from his trip into space, the bronze emperor took his place once again in that part of Planet Earth he called home over 1,200 years ago: Aachen City Hall, built on the very foundations of the Great Hall of his mighty palace.
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