EM | Heaven on Earth. The Heavenly Jerusalem at Aachen Cathedral

  14th-century tapestry: John of Patmos watches the descent of the Heavenly Jerusalem © public domain  

What does heaven on earth look like?

European architectural and art history answers this philosophical question with the motif of the Heavenly Jerusalem, which, according to the biblical Revelation of John, shows the future of the world after the Apocalypse. The earthly city of Jerusalem is thereby stylized into an art form that glides down from heaven to earth, symbolizing divine perfection.

Over the centuries, many cultural and historical receptions can be observed in a variety of forms: The Heavenly Jerusalem is reflected on a large scale in historical urban planning, in the architecture of sacred buildings and its sculptural decoration, as well as in a multitude of pictorial works. Interestingly, all interpretations of the motif have a basic canon of features in common, while other features are freely given site-specific characteristics.

In this seminar we will go in search of the Heavenly Jerusalem at Aachen Cathedral. We will examine its architecture, the cathedral treasury as well as its pictorial works together with the art historians researching on site and explore which forms the Heavenly Jerusalem has taken in Aachen. At the end of the seminar, the insights gained will be presented in the form of a faculty exhibition in the Chair's Library.



Elective Module
B. Sc. | all semesters


Kick-Off: Tuesday, October 17, 2023, 4pm, AGes Library
Regular date: Tuesdays, 4 to 5pm, AGes Library
Submission:Tuesday, January 30, 2024, 4pm


Yannick Ley, M. Sc. RWTH