Jülich is known today for its research center, but you can still find examples of Roman road-making, medieval fortifications, Renaissance town planning and Napoleonic stonework here. The town has been ruled by Romans, Franks and Prussians, and in that time has been destroyed and rebuilt three times.
You can see a cross section of the original Roman road through Jülich in the local history museum. That museum is next to one of the most famous of the town’s sights, the solid medieval town gate known as the Hexenturm or Witches Tower. This gate was the main point of entry to the town until 1547.
Another medieval gate, the Aachen Gate retains only its outer gateway arch, but you can get a good idea of the strength of the fortifications through the town’s history by visiting this site since it is close by the St. Jacobus Bastion. This is the only remaining bastion from the complete rebuilding carried out in the 16th century when the Italian master builder, Alessandro Pasqualini, designed the “ideal” Renaissance town in Jülich. The Citadel, central point of Pasqualini’s design, still remains.
The Propsteikirche (Provost’s Church) was built on the remains of Roman walls. The Romanesque entrance and some of the 12th century tower walls can still be seen, although much of the church was rebuilt in the 1950’s. From the steps of this church Bernhard of Claivaux called for the Second Crusade in 1147.
At the beginning of the 19th century Napoleon’s builders erected a bridgehead to reinforce France’s eastern border. Although the original bridgehead was severely damaged in the Second World War, it has been reconstructed since then and has been incorporated into the town’s zoo and park. It’s a great place to view Jülich’s history and relax with a cup of coffee or a German beer. :-)