The most important historical epoch of Aachen started with the takeover of the government by Charlemagne in AD 768. The imperial palace by the hot springs soon became his permanent residence and so developed into a spiritual and cultural centre. Two hundred years later he was canonized, which resulted in a flow of pilgrims wishing to see Charlemagne's tomb and the relics he gathered during his life. The town's ties with Charlemagne are reflected in numerous architectural heirlooms and memorials in the townscape.
When he began work on his Palatine Chapel in 786, Charlemagne's dream was to create a 'new Rome'. The core of Aachen Cathedral at the time of its construction was the largest dome north of the Alps. Its fascinating architecture, with classical, Byzantine and Germanic-Franconian elements, is the essence of a monumental building of the greatest importance. For 600 years, from 936 to 1531, Aachen Cathedral was the coronation church for thirty German kings, and even today it retains much of the glamour of its historic past.