From Hilversum to Aachen
On Saturday, September 18, Veleda and René visited Aachen, and in particular the Aachen Cathedral.
The Aachen-Merzbrück aerodrome has recently undergone a considerable overhaul. The runway has been slightly shifted and quite extended. Maurits and René already wanted to visit Aachen in December 2019 to the old runway, but on the last part of the flight the weather threw a spanner in the works due to low hanging clouds near Aachen, and we diverted to Niederrhein.
Today there was fog in the morning, but it would soon clear up was the expectation. We didn't have to rush to the airfield. When we arrived we quietly got ready to leave. We had already submitted the flight plan to Aachen from home. We took off at noon, and the route was direct Aachen.
Departed from Hilversum airfield
Gas-fired power plant, Maasbracht
As we approached the Maastricht TMA, we contacted Beek Tower.
We asked if Geilenkirchen was active.
It was not, but the
Schinveld ATZ was.
We asked and received a vector to stay clear, because we did not know the Schinveld ATZ.
It is a tiny ATZ above a Dutch glider field on the border, but the name is not on the official Dutch VFR chart, and the area is not really clearly marked.
Dutch VFR chart
As we approached Aachen-Merzbrück, we flew west of the field at sufficient altitude to fly into the circuit from the south. After landing on runway 07, we were asked to park across from the reporting office. We paid the landing fee in advance so we wouldn't have to later that afternoon, and headed for town.
Final runway 07 Aachen, Merzbrück
René at Aachen, Merzbrück
From Aachen-Merzbrück aerodrome it is only a 20 minutes walk (1.6km) to the Vorweiden bus stop in Würselen, and from there with bus 11 to the Elisenbrunnen bus stop near the Aachen Cathedral. There is a bus every 30 minutes on Saturdays. In Aachen we visted the Aachen Cathedral, which was the purpose of this visit.
Sights of Aachen Cathedral
It's impossible to overestimate the significance of Aachen's magnificent cathedral. The burial place of Charlemagne, it's where more than 30 German kings were crowned and where pilgrims have flocked since the 12th century.
The oldest and most impressive section is Charlemagne's palace chapel, the Pfalzkapelle, an outstanding example of Carolingian architecture. Completed in 800, the year of the emperor's coronation, it's an octagonal dome encircled by a 16-sided ambulatory supported by antique Italian pillars. The colossal brass chandelier was a gift from Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa, during whose reign Charlemagne was canonised in 1165.
Pilgrims have poured into town ever since that time, drawn as much by the cult surrounding Charlemagne as by its prized relics: Christ's loincloth from when he was crucified, Mary's cloak, the cloth that John the Baptist's decapitated head was wrapped in, and swaddling clothes from when Jesus was an infant. These are displayed once every seven years.
To accommodate these regular floods of visitors, a Gothic choir was docked to the chapel in 1414 and filled with such treasures as the Pala d'oro – a gold-plated altar-front depicting Christ's Passion – and the jewel-encrusted gilded copper pulpit, both fashioned in the 11th century. At the far end is the gilded shrine of Charlemagne that has held the emperor's remains since 1215. In front, the equally fanciful shrine of St Mary shelters the four above-mentioned relics.
The Throne of Charlemagne was erected in the 790s by Charlemagne, as one of the fittings of the palatine chapel in the Octagon of the church. Until 1531, it served as the coronation throne of the Kings of Germany.
text: lonelyplanet.com; wikipedia.org
From Aachen to Hilversum
After we got back to the airport we headed back to Hilversum. On the way from Hilversum to Aachen, visibility was a bit less near Aachen, and we decided to fly over Aachen when we would go back. So after departing from runway 07, we first flew a bit to the south-west to fly over the city.
Aachen Cathedral (Aachener Dom)
Aachen City hall (Rathaus)
Since we didn't know exactly where that Schinveld was, we actually just flew past that area at 3,000 feet over Geilenkirchen, and from Venlo continued following the Maas, east of De Peel and Volkel CTRs. Along the River Meuse we saw the Maasheggen, said to be the oldest cultural landscape in the Netherlands.
Maasheggen (Meuse Hedges)
The agricultural river landscape in the Meuse valley, in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, has been shaped by continuous interaction between people and nature. The site is used for hay meadows and includes the oldest and largest network of natural hedges in the Netherlands. The landscape comprises a mosaic of small agricultural fields enclosed by hedges, sand dunes, forests, lakes, wet meadows and reed beds.
Hedge laying as livestock fences is an old phenomenon that has been practiced for ages already in the Netherlands. The hedges also had a function in firewood provision. Around 1900 there was a network of many miles of hedges and natural wooden fences around fields and meadows. Farmers wove the hedges, sometimes as an extra source of income. When the barbed wire was introduced at the beginning of the twentieth century, the hedges lost their function as livestock fences. At the instruction of old farmers and by their information, the craft could be revived.
Maasheggen in the Netherlands
We continued our route to the northwest. On the way we also passed Rhenen with it's Cunera church. We went to visit it once, and we also devoted a page to it.
Tivoli football stadium, Aachen
The Cunera Church, Rhenen
Cunera church of Rhenen
The Medieval Rhenen church tower is a rather tall church tower for such a small city. In the province of Utrecht only the Dom Tower in Utrecht and The Tower of Our Lady in Amersfoort are taller. The construction of the Rhenen church tower was made possible by granting indulgences in 1475.
Further along, south-east of the former Soesterberg Air Force Base, lies Austerlitz. The pyramid is a piece of history from the French occupation. Shortly thereafter, we approached the Hilversum airfield. After landing, we cleaned the plane and filled out the paperwork, and we had a drink at the gliding club.
Pyramid of Austerlitz
Veleda cleaning the Cessna
Pyramid of Austerlitz
On the Utrechtse Heuvelrug stands the Pyramid of Austerlitz, a 36-metre-high pyramid of earth, built in 1804 by Napoleon's soldiers on one of the highest points of the Utrecht hill ridge. The French General Marmont had his soldiers build an earth and turf monument inspired by the Great Pyramid of Giza, which Marmont had seen in 1798 during Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. Even the erosion-exposed stepped surface was imitated. It was named "Mont Marmont" or "Marmontberg".
In the summer of 1805, Marmont departed with his army to southern Germany to fight in the War of the Third Coalition, which culminated in the Battle of Austerlitz, the battle in which Napoleon decisively defeated the Russians and Austrians. Louis Bonaparte, the new king of Holland, renamed the hill the Pyramid of Austerlitz. In view of its 200th anniversary in 2004, the highly dilapidated pyramid was restored between 2001 and 2004.