Saturday, April 4, 2015

Salvete! Roman Trier

Good Friday is a day off for almost every German, and DoD here follows suit. So, with a three day weekend and a little French car...what to do? I'm a huge Roman history nerd, so the nearest place to get my fix is Trier [Treves in English]. I took scads of photos, but to not break the internet, I'll only be posting one for each location I visited.

Most write-ups are from Trier Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

The Trier Roman Amphitheatre may have been constructed as early as the first century AD, but was certainly in use by the second century.

Able to hold around 20,000 spectators, Trier Roman Amphitheatre would have been the site of fierce gladiatorial battles, also involving animals. In fact, tunnels have been found under Trier Roman Amphitheatre which would have been used to house these animals together with unfortunate prisoners of the Roman Empire.

The Imperial Baths of Trier, known in German as Kaiserthermen, are the beautifully preserved ruins of a Roman public bath complex constructed in the fourth century AD.

Considered to be the largest Roman baths outside of Rome, the remains of the Imperial Baths of Trier are centrally located within the city and are a fantastic site, with many of their walls standing and even the option to explore their underground tunnels. 

Trier old city wall - I didn't bring my running gear, this would have made for a great route.

The Electoral Palace directly next to the Basilika is considered one of the most beautiful rococo palaces in the world. 

In 1615, Elector Lothar von Metternich had the present north and east wings built; the west and south wings were constructed under Philipp Christoph von Soetern. The structure was finally finished by Carl Caspar von der Leyen. 

The Porta Nigra gate dates back to a time (about A.D. 180) when the Romans often erected public buildings of huge stone blocks (here, the biggest weigh up to six metric tons).

The stone blocks were spared a recycling because of the Greek monk Simeon, who had himself walled up in the eastern tower as a hermit after 1028. After his death in 1034/5, he was buried inside the gate and made a saint. In his honor, two churches were built into the gate (torn down 1804-1819). The upper story of the eastern tower was razed - the only real damage to the stone gate, whose name, »Black Gate,« is medieval and goes back to the black pollution patina on the gray sandstone.

A view of old Trier next to the Porta Nigra

Trier Cathedral [Dom], the oldest bishop’s church in Germany, stands today in Trier’s center above a former palace from the era of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. The palace complex was supplanted in the 4th century by the largest Christian church complex from ancient times. It consisted of four basilicas joined by a large baptistry; the complex covered an area extending to the present Main Market. Tours under the building of the Cathedral Information show the remains of the first Early Christian assembly room north of the Alps from the late 3rd century and the remains of the first basilica.

Today's Cathedral still contains a Roman central section with the original walls rising up to a height of 26 m (86 ft). The huge fragment of a granite column next to the entrance to the Cathedral is another indication of the Roman origin of the building. After destructions in the 5th and 9th centuries, the remaining nucleus was enlarged by Romanesque additions - today, the Cathedral, with its three crypts, its cloister, Cathedral Treasury, and Holy Robe Chapel, displays architecture and artwork from more than 1650 years. - The Dom was holding Good Friday services, so I couldn't go inside. It's so large, that this is the only photo [from the top of the Porta Nigra] where I could get all of it.

The so-called Basilika, Constantine's throne room, is the largest surviving single-room structure from Roman times. The Romans wanted the architecture to express the magnificence and might of the emperor.

This depth is magnified by an optical illusion - both the windows of the apse as well as the niches underneath become progressively smaller towards the middle, thus enhancing the impression of length.

Later on, the archbishop used it as his administrative center and it was enlarged by three palace wings after 1614. Since the middle of the 19th century, it has been used as the first and oldest Protestant church in Catholic Trier with a splendid organ answered by a seven-second echo.

I'm also a WWII nerd - The Hochbunker [air raid shelter], built in 1942. Like others of it's species, these have proven too costly to demolish after the war, and many have found other uses. This one is not open to the public and serves mainly as storage for the city.

The Barbara Baths (fee) were built in the second century as the then largest Roman baths. Although only one third of the original facility has been excavated, a tour of the passageways takes a surprisingly long time.

The extensive ruins were used as a castle in the Middle Ages, then torn down and recycled as building material until the remains were used for constructing the Jesuit College in 1610.

Only the foundations and the subterranean service tunnels have survived, but the technical details of the sewer systems, the furnaces, the pools, and the heating system can be studied better than in the other two baths. - Currently closed to the public.

The Roman Bridge in Trier is the oldest bridge in Germany. The stone pilings of the Roman Bridge date from A.D. 144-152.

The pilings of the Roman Bridge from A.D. 144-152 (the arches and roadway are from the 18th century) are deeply embedded in the bedrock underneath the river gravel. 

On March 2, 1945, General Patton's tanks captured the bridge so quickly that it was not blown up - the (empty) charge chambers are still visible from the up-river side of the bridge.


  1. excellent series of photos and posts.

    I cannot add much to this, as I learn a lot and didn't know this before!

  2. Those are awesome pictures. You should do a series of 10 by 14s, mat 'em, and sell 'em for one fifty a pop. I would.

    1. Heh...I took these on my iPhone. I don't think I could make any money, as the competition is the PPIC - the Picture Postcard Industrial Complex. They're purveyors of entrepreneurial terrorism second only to the Greeting Card Mafia.

    2. I was thinking Will had a good idea here (overpaying for something you can get elsewhere for a lot less). I was going to ask where I should send my $1650 (plus shipping and tax) for a copy of each.

    3. "Entrepreneurial terrorism" or the nature of the "free market"? Which would be that the little guy is often crushed by larger competitors who can charge less and make it up in volume. CI shouldn't be using pejoratives to describe businesses who are playing by the rules and delivering their product to consumers at a price that "terrorizes" their competitors. Very unLibertarian of him.

    4. Sadly, sarcasm is as lost upon you as is the grasp of basic economics and concepts of liberty.

    5. Says some who insists that markets can function with zero regulation.

    6. Anyway, I guess you just confirmed that you believe small entrepreneurs being crushed is a good thing.

    7. Yep, markets can exist without regulation, as they provably done so throughout the history of mankind. Markets need supply and demand to operate. Period.

    8. believe small entrepreneurs being crushed is a good thing.

      You mean through excessive government regulation of licensing, taxes and mandatory wage levels?

    9. And yet again you're working. But you can't help yourself can you? Of course I favor rule of law, as I've stated previously, [regarding the market] I favor arbitration and/or penal measures if there is breach of contract.

      And didn't say "mandatory low wages" now did I? I said mandatory wage levels, which are artificial influencers that impede the ability of two consenting parties to agree on a contract.

      Add reading comprehension to your need for basic economics.

  3. That brings back some memories. I was stationed in K Town. My favorite trip was to hop a weekend train to Speyer, then up the Rhine to the Deutsches Eck, and up the Mosel to Trier, then back to Landstuhl.

    I'm glad to see you're out enjoying the beautiful countryside.

    1. I wanted to do a 'castle a weekend'...but the weather has been iffy. I spent three years in Bamberg [Bavaria] and didn't really see anything, except for the bars.

      I'm trying to atone for my past sins.

  4. Man, I haven't been there since the first Gulf War. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Trier was a real highlight for me all those years ago.

    1. Sadly, it was Good Friday, and most things were closed. I would have gotten more out of the trip on another day....but it's not often I get to touch Roman history [as well as the carved graffiti for all the years since].

      Next weekend, I think...will be the Roman Limes [frontier fortifications] near Aalen.

  5. Great photos & accompaniments, Son! Thanks for the History lesson.

    1. Hey, it was copy/paste and some iPhone pictures. I'd hardly call that a lesson!


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