Aachen traces its culture back to the Romans who used the hot springs to build their thermal baths.
The city’s ancient musical tradition is vibrant still to this day. With a tradition spanning more than 1,200 years, the Aachener Domchor is the oldest boys’ choir in Germany. The choir traces back to the “Schola Palatina," a court school in Aachen founded by Charlemagne and the scholar, Alcuin of York.
The Aachen Symphony Orchestra is also one of the oldest orchestras in Germany. The orchestra’s previous conductors included Leo Blech, Fritz Busch, Wolfgang Sawallisch, and last but not least, Herbert von Karajan. Marcus Bosch is the current Musical Director.
Aachen’s choir scene is more diverse than almost anywhere else, as recently exemplified in the impressive first biennial choir festival, the Aachener Chorbiennale. The choir scene includes excellent groups and ensembles such as the Aachener Domchor, “Ars Cantandi,” “Carmina Mundi” (multiple first-place winners at the German Choir Competition), “Cappella Aquensis,” and the “Junge Chor Aachen.” Wilhelm Pitz, the legendary choir director for the Bayreuth Festival and the London Philharmonic Chorus, has even directed the city choir.
But Aachen has more to offer than just music.
Peter Ludwig, one of the most important collectors of the 20th century, first displayed the work of pop culture artists Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol at the Ludwig Forum.
The art association Neue Aachener Kunstverein (NAK) in Farwick Park is literally synonymous with innovative art exhibitions.
Exhibitions at the Suermondt-Ludwig-Museum range from works of old masters through to contemporary art, while the Couven Museum in Haus Monheim displays furniture design starting in the Rococo up to the Biedermeier periods.
A lively and vibrant theatre scene:
Aachen Theater’s operas and plays, Grenzlandtheater Aachen, Theater K, Das Da Theater, the city puppet theater “Oecher Schängche”
Contemporary dance festival “Schrittmacher-Festival” (Spring)
“Across the Borders” – a cultural festival along the Route Charlemagne (July)
The “AmadèO” summer chamber music festival and its piano competition “Prix d’Amadèo” held in the German cities of Aachen and Herzogenrath, and the Dutch cities of Abtei Rolduc and Vaals.