EM | Spolia Aquensia – Gifted, found, stolen?

  View of Aachen Cathedral from the Quadrum Copyright: © Yannick Ley  

Architectural research at the Aachen Cathedral

As fragments of close and distant buildings, cultures and styles, spolia form an important part of the diverse architectural ensemble around the Aachen Cathedral. In the course of the past twelve centuries, a remarkable treasure trove of built-in spolia has been created through constant expansion. In most cases, their origin through donation, discovery or theft still requires detailed clarification and documentation.

Famous examples with an extensively reconstructed history of origin are the ancient columns of the Octagon. They were transferred from Rome and Ravenna to Aachen and experienced an impressive staging in the high galleries of the Octagon. Their use resulted in a power-political symbol with European reach, an iconographic bridge symbol to the center of the Catholic faith, and last but not least, the strengthening of an everlasting claim to the imperial dignity.

This semester's seminar will offer the opportunity to explore similar spolia from the cloister of Aachen Cathedral located to the north – the so-called Quadrum. In the course of lectures held on site and transmitted via zoom, the participants will explore the cloister as a whole and the objects built into it in detail and subject them to an architectural-historical examination. In addition, valuable insights will be gained through archival research and direct communication with art historians actively researching the Aachen Cathedral.

The results of the building research will then be recorded in thematic individual presentations, a drawing documentation and a short written elaboration, which will enable the intended compilation of a catalog of the Aachen spolia – the Spolia Aquensia.



Elective Module | Seminar
B.Sc. | all semesters


Tuesday, 4.15pm to 6.15pm, via Zoom
Submission: Friday, July 30, 2021


Yannick Ley, M. Sc. RWTH