Mediaeval Treasuries - Carolingian and Ottonian Rhineland

Prices from £1,695


1 Jul 2019 - 5 Jul 2019
Duration: 4 nights
Ref: 19ACES
With: Dr Ulrike Ziegler


Prices from £1,695
Single Supplement: from £250
Deposit: £200

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As King of the Franks and the Lombards, and from 800 also as Emperor, Charlemagne reigned over lands from the Pyrénées to the River Elbe and from the North Sea to Central Italy. Such was his power that he was known as ‘the Great’, even in his own lifetime. Politically astute and historically self-aware, Charlemagne strove to revive Roman antiquity, and he maintained relations with Byzantium as well as with the emerging Islamic empire. One of the grandest testimonies to the culture of Charlemagne’s times is the Church of St. Mary’s, Aachen’s present-day Cathedral, then the most prominent church north of the Alps.

Following his death, Charlemagne was celebrated as a holy ruler and eventually venerated as a saint. His empire, divided and re-divided by his successors, gave rise to the modern nations of Western Europe. When a century and a half later, the Saxon dynasty of the Ottonians rose to power, they expanded into Carolingian heartlands, such as Essen and Cologne, both of which have outstanding mediaeval monuments and collections. Cologne’s abundance of cultural offerings and its central location make the city an ideal base.


Dr Ulrike Ziegler studied art history and archaeology at the University of Regensburg and King’s College Aberdeen specialising in medieval art and architecture. Her PhD focused on art exhibitions and cultural politics of post-war Germany. She has taught at university and is now lecturing for various cultural institutions. She has organised and led many study trips in Germany and Austria. In addition to tour lecturing, Ulrike is developing Art Pursuit Abroad’s German programme.


We start our journey by boarding the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Brussels Midi. Here we will catch the Thalys train to Cologne. On arrival we travel by coach to our five-star hotel in the city centre. After checking into our hotel, we visit the Cathedral excavations beneath the present-day building that will reveal the early Christian beginnings of Cologne and the fascinating architectural remains dating to the 6th-9th centuries (open by special arrangement).


We explore Cologne this morning, and visit the cathedral begun in 1248 will include Nicholas of Verdun’s resplendent late 12th-century Shrine of the Magi, Stefan Lochner’s lavish International Gothic triptych, and Gerhard Richter’s controversial stained-glass windows of 2007. The Römisch-Germanisches Museum has significant archaeological exhibits of Cologne’s Roman and early mediaeval history. In the afternoon, visit the Romanesque church of St. Gereon to see mosaics from the 4th and 11th centuries followed by the Cathedral Treasury displaying liturgical items in precious metals as well as relics and sculpture.


Today we visit Aachen, one of Charlemagne’s favourite residences that became the focus of his empire. It begun as part of a palace complex in c.792, the Palatine Chapel was modelled on San Vitale in Ravenna and embellished with spoils from that church. Later additions include a stunning early 11th-century jewel-bedecked pulpit, a golden altar frontal and a gilt-copper chandelier donated by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Outstanding items in the Cathedral Treasury include Carolingian artefacts as well as an Ottonian precious crux gemmata of c.1000. On our return to Cologne, we visit the church of St Heribert, an 11th-century Cologne bishop whose relics are kept in a golden shrine, a masterpiece of Ottonian goldwork. The treasury (open by special access) displays more goldwork and mediaeval textiles.


We walk past Cologne’s historic town hall to the church of St Maria im Kapitol, built on the site of a Roman temple, it is famous for the 11th- century wooden doors. The Schnütgen Museum, housed in the former church of St Cecilia, has an excellent collection of mediaeval art ranging from wooden and stone sculptures, valuable goldsmiths’ work and stained glass to intricate ivories and textiles. This afternoon is free to visit other sites in Cologne such as the Wallraf-Richartz Museum with a collection of items from Gothic to Van Gough, or the Museum Ludwig.


Associated with the Krupp iron works and heavy industry of the Ruhr area, Essen may at first seem an unlikely destination. Yet, this city once was a major centre of Carolingian and Ottonian monastic power, manifested in monuments such as a 9th-century crypt, and an 11th-century baptistery, atrium and westwork. The cathedral’s treasury is home to the 10th-century Golden Madonna, the oldest known sculpture of the Virgin and the oldest post-Antique free-standing statue north of the Alps. After lunch in a local restaurant, visit the church and treasury of St Ludgerus in Essen- Werden, which has a late Carolingian crypt, an Ottonian westwork and early mediaeval artefacts including the famous Werden casket of c.800 (fragments of the casket are in the Victoria & Albert museum). Later we are transferred to Cologne train station for our return train journey back to London St Pancras via Brussels Midi.


01 Jul 19 London St Pancras (INTT) Brussels Midi (INTT) ES9116 08:55-12:05
01 Jul 19 Brussels Midi (INTT) Cologne Hbf (INTT) THA9437 13:25-15:15
05 Jul 19 Cologne Hbf (INTT) Brussels Midi (INTT) THA9448 12:42-14:35
05 Jul 19 Brussels Midi (INTT) London St Pancras (INTT) ES9149 16:56-18:06


Twin/double share: £1695 per person
Double room for sole use supplement: £250
Superior Room supplement : £50
Superior Room for sole use supplement : £350
'No train' price: £1495 per person
Deposit: £200


  • Return train journey from London St Pancras - Cologne via Brussels Midi
  • Private coach transfers in Germany
  • Four nights’ bed and breakfast in the 5* Excelsior Hotel, Ernst
  • Two dinners and one lunch
  • Guided visits to all sites as listed in the programme
  • Services of the Lecturer and Tour Manager
  • Detailed programme and study notes
  • All entrance fees, taxes & gratuities for coach drivers & waiters


The five-star Excelsior Hotel, Ernst, built in 1863 is a privately-owned luxury hotel located next to Cologne cathedral. Facilities include two restaurants and a bar. The bedrooms have satellite TV, mini bar, safe, complimentary internet access, air conditioning, bath robes and hair dryer.