Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Aachen Christmas Market and Cathedral

So, last week I shared our Friday stint at the Christmas market and St. Servatius Basilica in Maastricht, which is way down at the "bottom" of the Netherlands before you cross the border into Belgium (west) or Germany (east).  That was on Friday, 8 December.

See the 3 red dots?  
Our hotel was in Kerkrade, NL, a good home-base between Maastricht and Aachen over 4 days.
The thin gray, jiggly line is the borderline between three countries:
Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Saturday, 9 December, was our Aachen, Germany, day but first...
we decided to see the 3-country point, the highest elevation spot in the Netherlands (large blue dot).

It so happens that we when got to Vaals, 17 km from our hotel, we saw this Euregio tower, 
assuming it was the only spot for viewing the 3 countries.

It was worth paying the money to ride the elevator to the top (353.5 meters).
On a windy, blustery, snowy, icy day, we minded our step, trust me, and almost blew away.
But there you have it:  (l to r) Belgium (in the Ardennes), Germany, Netherlands.

Astrid had been here 50 years earlier and knew there was a monument,
so we drove a few meters further to the real tower and spot of importance.
No need to climb another tower but we did take in the monuments.

Vaalserberg is the name of this highest spot/hill which marks the 3-country point in the Netherlands.
It's 322.4 meters (1,058 ft) above NAP, which refers to Amsterdam, at sea level.

YAY.  We did it.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

From Vaalsberg it was only 7 km to Aachen for our second Christmas market of the weekend.

As we walked to city center, we immediately saw the Dom/cathedral.
You can't miss it.
It's one of the oldest cathedrals in Europe, consecrated in 805.

Because it was right in front of us, we decided to "do it" before anything else.
Little did we know we would be in a line of tourists walking the perimeter of the circular nave.
We could look into and across the nave but couldn't enter it.

So...around and around we went, with the crowd, to see what we could see.

How do you begin to describe this!

At the altar, with the choir behind it, we so wanted to go "inside."

The pulpit of Henry II, to the right of the altar inside the choir, blew me away.
What would my preacher dad think of that????

When we got to the side chapel of St. Nicholas, we were allowed to enter.
I think many tourists were glad for a place to sit and worship.

The rest of us saw what we could...and left.
[To be honest, it reminded me of being herded through St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.]

Once outside, we began our Christmas marketing in earnest,
always with the cathedral as a backdrop.

But first, it was time for lunch.
The mobs were congregated around the eatery stalls, so we opted to eat inside a nearby café.
GOULASH and GLÜHWEIN!  Perfect for a wintry day.
[But why, oh why, do the Germans serve white bread?????]

You know we find "impressions" everywhere we go.
Even though we were looking for the Christmassy things, we still got side-tracked, of course.

Then we paid attention.
How can you not become a Child when you see such delights.

The German Christmas villages always grab me.

Can you image "collecting" one new house each year to make your own village?

But nothing cheered me more than this display of whimsy,
even if for a select audience.

By late afternoon, and when the evening crowd would soon descend, it was time to leave.
It was our second "fix" of the weekend and we were fully satisfied.

We had Sunday to go...the day we visited the Rolduc Abbey in Kerkrade, near our hotel,
all decked out for post.


  1. I always feel as if I was with you, Ginnie. So much to take in this day. Great post! The blues and gold in the church were something!

    1. I do love that you join me on these journeys, Marie, so THANK YOU. And yes, those blues and golds took my breath away!

  2. Yes, the lights and all the blue and gold are so lovely!

    1. Thanks, Ruth. I wonder what it would have felt like to have been there with hardly anyone else there? That would have been something.

  3. Just wonderful! Aachen is one of those places I have always wanted to see. You fail to mention it was Charlemagne’s seat. Even from the perimeter, I’d like to visit. As to the Xmas villages, I’m forever a child.

    1. I'd love to go visit the cathedral again, Ted, at a less hectic time of the take my time! Sometimes there is so much to share about these places and I'm cognizant of those who don't want to read it all. So I add the links for people, like you, who may want to check it out further.

      You and I are so similar...forever a child in so many contexts. :)

  4. my mother used to do ceramics, and she used to paint a Christmas house for her German village every year... lots of detail... but she was good at it... lovely market, and say, do you think that was a CATHOLIC church? lol snarfle

    1. Astrid's mom also did many decorative things, like Pennsylvania Dutch tole designs. We have her artwork all over the house and I love it. And yes, it doesn't take much tell which are the CATHOLIC churches. Seriously.

  5. What a day and what a fun day it was. I am glad I remembered the thing about the three countries coming together. Aachen was just wonderful, the cathedral was fabulous, a little too crowded for my liking and I would not mind going back one day. The Christmas market was like how a Christmas market should be. Lots of wonderful things to see. I love how your pictures show all the lights like stars..... beautiful pictures to add to another memory of 2017. A few more days and it is New Year, lots of opportunities to make new memories. IHVJ.

    1. This is the time of the year when we look back and are amazed at all that happened in the span of just one year. It really does blow the mind. I'm just glad and lucky to have YOU as my Partner in Crime all along the way. THANK YOU!

  6. Happy Happy New Year! NL is such a small country but full of sights. I hope to find a good deal for tour so that I can visit this wonderland you call home. My love to Astrid.

    1. When that happens, Maria, let us be the first to know so that we can make sure we see you.