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The town of Aachen developed from a Roman settlement and thermae (bath complex), subsequently becoming the preferred medieval Imperial residence of Emperor Charlemagne of the Frankish Empire, and, from 936 to 1531, the place where 31 Holy Roman Emperors have crowned Kings of the Germans.

One of Germany’s leading institutes of higher education in technology, the RWTH Aachen University (Rheinisch-Westfälisch Technische Hochschule Aachen), is located in the city. Its university hospital Uniklinik RWTH Aachen is Europe’s largest single-building hospital. Aachen’s industries include science, engineering and information technology. In 2009, Aachen was ranked eighth among cities in Germany for innovation.

The regional dialect spoken in the city is a Central Franconian, Ripuarian variant with strong Limburgish influences from the dialects in the neighboring Netherlands. As a Rhenish city, Aachen is one of the main centers of carnival celebrations in Germany, along with Cologne, Mainz and Düsseldorf. The culinary specialty the city is best known for is Aachener Printen, a type of gingerbread.