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Aachen Cathedral: Detail, bronze doors, west portal
The west portal features great bronze doors known as the "Wolf's Doors," which were cast around 800 AD for the original Palatine Chapel. They were based on ancient models and weigh four tons. The modern entrance is through a smaller, more humble doorway to their right.
Aachen is Aix-la-Chapelle in French. Aachen Cathedral, frequently referred to as the "Imperial Cathedral" (Kaiserdom), 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 (Palantine Chapel) was the church of coronation for 30 German kings and 12 queens. Dedicated to the Virgin, the chapel was nearing completion in 798, according to a letter of Alcuin. A lost inscription inside the building ascribed its construction to Odo of Metz, an individual otherwise unknown (see Schlosser, 1896). Charlemagne was buried in his chapel in 814. In 1165, through the instigation of Frederick Barbarossa, he was canonized, and his remains drew many pilgrims. Between 1355 and 1414 the eastern square apse was replaced by a double-bay apsed choir with extremely tall traceried windows and a quadripartite rib vault. The chapel was designated the cathedral of a newly constituted diocese in 1802.