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Aachen - Germany

Aachen (German pronunciation: [ˈʔaːxən] (About this sound listen)) or Bad Aachen, French and traditional English: Aix-la-Chapelle (French pronunciation: ​[ˌɛkslaʃaˈpɛl]), is a spa and border city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Aachen developed from a Roman settlement and spa, subsequently becoming the preferred medieval Imperial residence of Charlemagne, and, from 936 to 1531, the place where 31 Holy Roman Emperors were crowned Kings of the Germans.

Aachen is the westernmost city in Germany, located near the borders with Belgium and the Netherlands, 61 km (38 mi) west south west of Cologne in a former coal-mining area. One of Germany's leading institutes of higher education in technology, the RWTH Aachen University is located in the city.[a] Aachen's industries include science, engineering and information technology. In 2009, Aachen was ranked eighth among cities in Germany for innovation.

After Roman times, Pepin the Short had a castle residence built in the town, due to the proximity of the hot springs and also for strategic reasons as it is located between the Rhineland and northern France. Einhard mentions that in 765–6 Pepin spent both Christmas and Easter at Aquis villa (Et celebravit natalem Domini in Aquis villa et pascha similiter.), ("and [he] celebrated Christmas in the town Aquis, and similarly Easter") which must have been sufficiently equipped to support the royal household for several months. In the year of his coronation as king of the Franks, 768, Charlemagne came to spend Christmas at Aachen for the first time.[c] He remained there in a mansion which he may have extended, although there is no source attesting to any significant building activity at Aachen in his time, apart from the building of the Palatine Chapel (since 1930, cathedral) and the Palace. Charlemagne spent most winters in Aachen between 792 and his death in 814. Aachen became the focus of his court and the political centre of his empire. After his death, the king was buried in the church which he had built; his original tomb has been lost, while his alleged remains are preserved in the Karlsschrein, the shrine where he was reburied after being declared a saint; his saintliness, however, was never officially acknowledged by the Roman Curia as such.

On 9 February 1801, the Peace of Lunéville removed the ownership of Aachen and the entire "left bank" of the Rhine from Germany and granted it to France. In 1815, control of the town was passed to Prussia, by an act passed by the Congress of Vienna. The third congress took place in 1818, to decide the fate of occupied Napoleonic France.

By the middle of the 19th century, industrialisation had swept away most of the city's medieval rules of production and commerce, although the entirely corrupt[clarification needed] remains of the city's medieval constitution were kept in place (compare the famous remarks of Georg Forster in his Ansichten vom Niederrhein) until 1801, when Aachen became the "chef-lieu du département de la Roer" in Napoleon's First French Empire. In 1815, after the Napoleonic Wars, the Kingdom of Prussia took over. The city was one of its most socially and politically backward centres until the end of the 19th century. Administered within the Rhine Province, by 1880 the population was 80,000. Starting in 1838, the railway from Cologne to Belgium passed through Aachen. The city suffered extreme overcrowding and deplorable sanitary conditions until 1875, when the medieval fortifications were finally abandoned as a limit to building and new, better housing was built in the east of the city, where sanitary drainage was easiest. In December 1880, the Aachen tramway network was opened, and in 1895 it was electrified. In the 19th century and up to the 1930s, the city was important in the production of railway locomotives and carriages, iron, pins, needles, buttons, tobacco, woollen goods, and silk goods.

The geology of Aachen is very structurally heterogeneous. The oldest occurring rocks in the area surrounding the city originate from the Devonian period and include carboniferous sandstone, greywacke, claystone and limestone. These formations are part of the Rhenish Massif, north of the High Fens. In the Pennsylvanian subperiod of the Carboniferous geological period, these rock layers were narrowed and folded as a result of the Variscan orogeny. After this event, and over the course of the following 200 million years, this area has been continuously flattened.

During the Cretaceous period, the ocean penetrated the continent from the direction of the North Sea up to the mountainous area near Aachen, bringing with it clay, sand, and chalk deposits. While the clay (which was the basis for a major pottery industry in nearby Raeren) is mostly found in the lower areas of Aachen, the hills of the Aachen Forest and the Lousberg were formed from upper Cretaceous sand and chalk deposits. More recent sedimentation is mainly located in the north and east of Aachen and was formed through tertiary and quaternary river and wind activities.

Along the major thrust fault of the Variscan orogeny, there are over 30 thermal springs in Aachen and Burtscheid. Additionally, the subsurface of Aachen is traversed by numerous active faults that belong to the Rurgraben fault system, which has been responsible for numerous earthquakes in the past, including the 1756 Düren earthquake and the 1992 Roermond earthquake, which was the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the Netherlands.

Aachen Cathedral Treasury has housed, throughout its history, a collection of liturgical objects. The origin of this church treasure is in dispute as some say Charlemagne himself endowed his chapel with the original collection, while the rest were collected over time. Others say all of the objects were collected over time, from such places as Jerusalem and Constantinople. The location of this treasury has moved over time and was unknown until the 15th century when it was located in the Matthiaskapelle (St. Matthew's Chapel) until 1873, when it was moved to the Karlskapelle (Charles' Chapel). From there it was moved to the Hungarian Chapel in 1881 and in 1931 to its present location next to the Allerseelenkapelle (Poor Souls' Chapel). Only six of the original Carolingian objects have remained, and of those only three are left in Aachen: the Aachen Gospels, a diptych of Christ, and an early Byzantine silk. The Coronation Gospels and a reliquary burse of St. Stephen were moved to Vienna in 1798 and the Talisman of Charlemagne was given as a gift in 1804 to Josephine Bonaparte and subsequently to Rheims Cathedral. 210 documented pieces have been added to the treasury since its inception, typically to receive in return legitimisation of linkage to the heritage of Charlemagne. The Lothar Cross, the Gospels of Otto III and multiple additional Byzantine silks were donated by Otto III. Part of the Pala d'Oro and a covering for the Aachen Gospels were made of gold donated by Henry II. Frederick Barbarossa donated the candelabrum that adorns the dome and also once "crowned" the Shrine of Charlemagne, which was placed underneath in 1215. Charles IV donated a pair of reliquaries. Louis XI gave, in 1475, the crown of Margaret of York, and, in 1481, another arm reliquary of Charlemagne. Maximilian I and Charles V both gave numerous works of art by Hans von Reutlingen. Continuing the tradition, objects continued to be donated until the present, each indicative of the period of its gifting, with the last documented gift being a chalice from 1960 made by Ewald Mataré.

In June 2010, Achim Kampker, together with Günther Schuh, founded a small company to develop Street Scooter GmbH; in August 2014, it was renamed StreetScooter GmbH. This was a privately organised research initiative at the RWTH Aachen University which later became an independent company in Aachen. Kampker was also the founder and chairman of the European Network for Affordable and Sustainable Electromobility. In May 2014, the company announced that the city of Aachen, the city council Aachen and the savings bank Aachen had ordered electric vehicles from the company. In late 2014, approximately 70 employees were manufacturing 200 vehicles annually in the premises of the Waggonfabrik Talbot, the former Talbot/Bombardier plant in Aachen.

In December 2014 Deutsche Post DHL Group purchased the StreetScooter company, which became its wholly owned subsidiary. By April 2016, the company announced that it would produce 2000 of its electric vans branded Work in Aachen by the end of the year.

In April 2016, StreetScooter GmbH announced that it would be scaling up to manufacture approximately 10,000 of the Work vehicles annually, starting in 2017, also in Aachen. If that goal is achieved, it will become the largest electric light utility vehicle manufacturer in Europe, surpassing Renault which makes the smaller Kangoo Z.E..

The annual CHIO (short for the French term Concours Hippique International Officiel) is the biggest equestrian meeting of the world and among horsemen is considered to be as prestigious for equitation as the tournament of Wimbledon for tennis. Aachen hosted the 2006 FEI World Equestrian Games.

The local football team Alemannia Aachen had a short run-out in Germany's first division, after its promotion in 2006. However, the team could not sustain its status and is now back in the fourth division. The stadium "Tivoli", opened in 1928, served as the venue for the team's home games and was well known for its incomparable atmosphere throughout the whole of the second division. Before the old stadium's demolition in 2011, it was used by amateurs, whilst the Bundesliga Club held its games in the new stadium "Neuer Tivoli" – meaning New Tivoli—a couple of metres down the road. The building work for the stadium which has a capacity of 32,960, began in May 2008 and was completed by the beginning of 2009.

The city's biggest tennis club, "TC Grün Weiss", annually hosts the ATP Tournament.

The Ladies in Black women's volleyball team (part of the "PTSV Aachen" sports club since 2013) has played in the first German volleyball league (DVL) since 2008.