Aachen Cathedral, frequently referred to as the “Imperial Cathedral” (in German: Kaiserdom), is a Roman Catholic church in Aachen, Germany. The church is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe and was known as the “Royal Church of St. Mary at Aachen” during the Middle Ages. For 600 years, from 936 to 1531, the Aachen chapel was the church of coronation for 30 German kings and 12 queens. The church is the episcopal seat of the Diocese of Aachen.
The Aachen cathedral treasury displays sacral masterpieces of the late Classical, Carolingian, Ottonian and Staufian period – among them there are some unique exhibits like the Cross of Lothair theBust of Charlemagne and the Persephone sarcophagus. The Cathedral Treasury in Aachen is regarded as one of the most important ecclesiastical treasuries in northern Europe. The Shrine of St Mary rests in the choir of the church and dates from 1220-1239. Adorned with the figures of Christ, Mary, Charlemagne, Pope Leo III and the Twelve Apostles, the shrine contains the four great Aachen relics: St. Mary’s cloak, Christ’s swaddling clothes, St. John the Baptist’s beheading cloth and Christ’s loincloth. Following a custom begun in 1349, every seven years the relics are taken out of the shrine and put on display during the Great Aachen Pilgrimage. This pilgrimage most recently took place during June 2007.