The Charlemagne Prize (German: Karlspreis; full name originally Internationaler Karlspreis der Stadt Aachen, International Charlemagne Prize of the City of Aachen, since 1988 Internationaler Karlspreis zu Aachen, International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen) is one of the most prestigious European prizes. It has been awarded once a year since 1950 by the German city of Aachen to people who contributed to the ideals upon which it has been founded. It commemorates Charlemagne, ruler of the Frankish Empire and founder of what became the Holy Roman Empire, who resided and is buried at Aachen. Traditionally the award is given to the recipient on the Ascension holiday in a ceremony in the town hall of Aachen.
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“Then, though I prize my friends, I cannot afford to talk with them and study their visions, lest I lose my own. It would indeed give me a certain household joy to quit this lofty seeking, this spiritual astronomy, or search of stars, and come down to warm sympathies with you; but then I know well I shall mourn always the vanishing of my mighty gods.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)