Tricking the devil is not easy and the inhabitants of Aachen did it twice

Tricking the devil is not easy and the inhabitants of Aachen did it twice!

1. The legend of the Aachener Dom

Doorlock at the Aachener Dom with Devil’s thumb (Source: Wiki Commons)

One winter morning the devil stepped on the streets of Aachen in human form. When he looked around there was no soul to be seen.

He walked past the frozen meadows until he reached the market, where the first carts of the day were selling baked chestnuts, smoked meats and cheese. The devil paid the butcher to slice a piece of meat and asked whether he knew how to get employed around the city.

The butcher told him the story about the cathedral, that was being built for emperor Carolus Magnus / Charlemagne and how the city council had to stop the construction, because the treasury ran out of cash. Since the emperor was going to return from his campaign against the Saxons the construction had to be finished shortly and the builders. Pleased to learn about the city’s problem the devil decided to visit the city council.

Draped in dark expensive clothes, the devil stood in the middle of the city’s finest assembly and offered to pay the remaining costs for the completion of the church. The inhabitants of Aachen studied his offer for a while and asked him what he expected in return. The devil smiled, opened his arms with a heartened lavish gesture and answered: “The first soul to enter the cathedral” and the inhabitants of Aachen accept it.

Only a few weeks later the church of Charlemagne / Carolus Magnus was ready and waiting for the emperor to return from the war. One more thing was left to be done, the city council was to leave an offering inside the church. Since the devil never explicitly stated that he desired a human soul, the wise men of Aachen captured a wolf in the forests nearby and let it loose in the church.

Excited to collect his debt the devil stormed from behind the massive bronze doors and saw the wolf’s soul in an instant. When he realized the trick it was already too late, he rushed out and slammed the doors in anger. Emerging in the daylight he could not take a single step further more, because his hand got stuck in the iron lock. Ashamed and enraged at his own helplessness the devil returned back to hell.

At this present-day a wolf statue on Aachener Dom exhibits at the entrance as a reminder of this legend. The famous doorlock confirms the earthly remains of the devil.

2. The legend of Lousberg (hill) in Aachen

Statue of Devil and farmer’s woman in Lousberg, Aachen

Returning to hell the devil decided to prepare a plan to let the inhabitants of Aachen pay, what better way than by covering their beloved city with sand?

Without hesitation, the devil flew to the North Sea and filled two enormous sacks of sand. He slung them over his shoulder and disappeared into the night. On the way back to Aachen a birch tree punctured one of his sacks making the devil sprinkle particles of sand all over the dawning skies. Unwilling to give up, he flew faster and faster the sand rubbing against his eyes and the heavy sacks crushing his back until he could not bear it anymore and stopped at a crossroad to catch his breath.

As he was resting and evaluating the damage done to his load, an old farmer’s wife walked by. The devil brushed off his dusty clothes and he asked her how far Aachen was. The woman gave the stranger a glance noticing how his right leg ended in a hoof and instead of a hand, he had a terrible claw.

Unmoved and with a witty look on her face the woman pointed at the holes in her shoes and explained how she just bought them from the market in Aachen this morning and that she walked for so long, that they were already worn out. Little did the devil know that he was already standing next to the city walls.

Enraged, the devil howled at the farmers’s woman and with a terrible curse he threw the enormous sacks to the ground and disappeared, leaving behind a hill known at this present day as Lousberg.

A statue with the Devil and the farmer’s wife can be visited on the Lousberg hill. A plaque displayed at the devil’s feet says “De Oecher send der Düvel ze lous“, meaning “the people of Aachen are too clever for the devil”.