1200 years ago – on 28th January 814 – Charlemagne died in Aachen, having spent the last years of his life and his rule there in his most favoured and most important palace. In honour of his immense significance not only for the people of Aachen but also for the whole of European history, three major exhibitions will take place in Aachen in 2014 dedicated to the culture and courtly life of Charlemagne. The trio of exhibitions will be opened on 19th June 2014 by their official patron, the Federal President. They will run from 20th June to 21st September 2014 in three prestigious venues – the Coronation Hall in Aachen’s Town Hall, the Centre Charlemagne on the Katschhof, and the Cathedral Treasury – and will present the impact, art and culture of Charlemagne. In addition to Aachen’s own historical collections, the exhibitions will be enhanced with an abundance of first-rate loan exhibits from international museums and private collections.
“Places of Power” is the title of the largest exhibition, located in the Coronation Hall in Aachen’s Town Hall.
The Coronation Hall is famous as the setting of numerous coronation banquets in the Early Modern Era and as the venue of today’s annual International Charlemagne Prize Award Ceremony. In Charlemagne’s times, this was the site of the original palace’s Kings Hall, and thus the seat of imperial power. The exhibition will invite visitors to explore and experience the courtly life of those times. It will show king and military leader Charlemagne travelling from palace to palace, display archaeological and art-historical evidence to outline the material basis of his reign, and offer an insight into the external models that inspired him to turn Aachen into a “place of power”. The exhibition will illustrate what power meant in Carolingian times, and trace the boundaries between historical fact and the myth of Charlemagne, a myth to which Aachen owes its high-ranking status as the birthplace of modern Europe.
“Charlemagne’s Art” , the special exhibition to be staged in the new Centre Charlemagne – due to open in 2013 – will focus on the art history of the Carolingian period, but especially on works of art attributed to Charlemagne’s “Palatine School of Aachen”.
Extremely precious manuscripts, ivory carvings and goldsmith’s works will once more be brought together in Aachen, first-class exhibits that will bring to life this golden age of the arts. Parallel to this special exhibition, the Centre Charlemagne – located at the heart of the original Aachen palace – will also be running its permanent exhibition on the development of Aachen and the historical role of Charlemagne. “Lost Treasures” is the title of the third exhibition, which will be staged in the Cathedral Treasury.
Aachen’s Cathedral Treasury is renowned as the most important church treasury north of the Alps. Some of its most prominent treasures date back to Charlemagne’s times. The Persephone Sarcophagus, in which Charlemagne is assumed to have been buried on 28th January 814, provides the prime link between the church treasure and the occasion of the “Year of Charlemagne” in 2014. For the duration of the exhibition, the Cathedral Treasury will be bringing back to Aachen works of sacral art that once belonged to this church treasure. The exhibits will cover a period stretching to the late middle ages, but will be firmly anchored in the Carolingian era through works that were already part of Charlemagne’s own church treasure or are even considered to be from his grave