Located 50 mi/80 km west of Cologne, near the borders of Belgium and the Netherlands, Aachen, Germany, gained prominence as the capital of Charlemagne's empire. From 936 to 1531, it served as the coronation city for German kings, many of whom are depicted on the facade of the Town Hall.

Today, Aachen is a lively university town. It's fun to spend a few hours strolling the streets of the Old Town and lingering in the shops, quaint restaurants and historical sights. Particularly enjoyable is the venerable Nobis Printen Baeckerei, which has superb printen (a locally made gingerbread).

Other attractions include mineral baths and year-round casino gambling. The Ludwig Forum, housed in a former umbrella factory, is an international art gallery and a performing-arts venue.

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