International Charlemagne Prize Atmosphere, amour and an x-rayed loaf

Whether it be a public declaration of affection in the Coronation Hall, live pictures of a high-heeled shoe or the translumination of a sliced loaf, the International Charlemagne Prize (Internationaler Karlspreis) of Aachen always promises unique images each May, on Ascension Day.

Europe in Aachen

  • the European Science Parliament sits every two years
  • the European media prize “Médaille Charlemagne” is awarded each year
  • the International Charlemagne Prize has been complemented by the International Youth Charlemagne Prize since 2008
  • EUROPE DIRECT offers information on Europe in Aachen

The award had its roots, in 1949, in the commitment of Aacheners engaged in the worlds of politics, business, the church, academia and society at large whose experience of two world wars led them to conclude that the nations of Europe must unite, not fight.

There’s a real carnival atmosphere at the live big-screen transmission on Market Square, with bands and culinary delights “au plein air” to be enjoyed on the Katschhof Courtyard. An interesting support programme of concerts, exhibitions and lectures and the walkabout, so loved by politicians and people alike, have ensured the Charlemagne Prize remains the people’s prize. Indeed, the lady wife of the head of the central bank is truly “one of us” as – without a second thought – she takes off her high-heels while making her way across the cobblestones in Aachen’s historic old quarter.

European ideal remains a popular movement

“Do what you can, all of you, to ensure the European ideal remains a popular movement which is never allowed to atrophy”, shouted Konrad Adenauer, Charlemagne Prize winner and the then German Chancellor, to the crowds in 1954. People in Aachen are actively involved in Europe. Who cares if the choice of former US President Clinton as prize-winner means your groceries have to go through a security scanner? And there’s a real spirit of relaxed partnership at play when former French President Nicolas Sarkozy promises his love to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – something the people of 1949 wouldn’t even have dared dream of – in Aachen, a city long wedded to the European ideal.

Want more?

External links

International Charlemagne Prize of AachenHistory, news and laureates The Charlemagne Prize on WikipediaBackground & literature