Our knowledge of the Middle Ages is mainly based on events and processes, days at court, reform synods, legal judgements and legislation, meetings of foreign envoys and the gentry, the places and times of which have been handed down to us in written records. The locations of these events in which history was made and laid down in writing were frequently Kaiserpfalzen (imperial palaces). The one in Ingelheim seems to have been one of the most important. All the imperial palaces were the headquarters of the itinerant royal entourage. It was an empire without a capital city or a permanent seat of government. None of these imperial palaces have survived intact, instead we have inherited ruins: But even these are a valuable heritage, because the majority of the places mentioned in the ancient records have not even been located.
What did these royal residences look like? How big was such a building or collection of buildings in the years 800 and 1,000? What function did they serve? How were they administered in both the king‘s absence and presence? The town of Ingelheim on the Rhine and the bureau for the conservation of historic monuments in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Landesamt für Denkmalpflege) have jointly founded the Kaiserpfalz research centre, in order to answer some of those questions, using the Kaiserpfalz in Ingelheim as its research object. The emphasis is on the work by archaeologists, because they examine and interpret the sources of history buried underground. The excavated remains enable us to create an overall view.
Thanks to intensive excavations we now know that the Pfalz of Charlemagne in Ingelheim was a palace based on antique designs, whose historical and architectural and varied roots can be traced far back, as the somewhat earlier Pfalz in Aachen. In addition to the scientific yield, through the co-operation between archaeology, and the preservation of historic buildings and monuments and the town-planning authority, the town is blessed with a lasting place of interest. Houseshave been demolished to reveal monuments, and we have a view of the axes and an interesting insight into the historical sites on which the town was built. Many measures have been successfully carried out, but also in the future those who are interested will be able to watch excavations, the modernisation of the town and the conservation of ancient monuments.
In order to illustrate the history of the Kaiserpfalz from the 8th to the 14th century, each of the three main periods of building will be explained, using a key area: the Aula Regia (8th century) represents the Carolingian Pfalz, the Saalkirche (10th century) the Ottonian and the Heidesheimer Tor (12th century), the Pfalz of the Staufer.
Further points along the circular tour provide an overview of the topography and building history, which offers the visitor to the museum near the Kaiserpfalz numerous exhibits and a computer-generated presentation. It is there that from September 2005 the most spectacular archaeological finding on view is the only original gold coin with Charlemagne‘s image. This website contains a short outline of the history of the Kaiserpfalz in Ingelheim, and is intended to help the visitor to discover Charlemagne‘s palace and the festival and synod centre of the Ottonians and the palatial castle of Frederick I Barbarossa in and below the Saal area.