Sunday, November 22, 2015

Visit to Trier 14 November 2015

The Porta Nigra - The Black Gate. Built by the Romans in approximately 200 AD

Looks really cool at night. Manmade structures in the United States 1800 years old? Not so many.
We spent our Saturday preparation day November 14 in Trier, one of the oldest cities in Germany. It was a Roman outpost for a few centuries, and it was briefly the seat of the western half of the empire during the reign of Constantine. It is a World Heritage site with incredible monuments and buildings dating from the Roman era. We joined 4 other couples and had a delightful day. Jeff wandered off and discovered a hidden gem of a church, the entrance for which is tucked between two commercial buildings on the main plaza. Following is a photo collection from our day.

Hauptmarkt (Central Plaza or Main Market)

The central plaza. In a couple of weeks this large open plaza will be crammed with stalls for the Christmas market
Narrow street connecting the central plaza (Hauptmarkt) to the Cathedral

Ornate fountain in the Hauptmarkt

The street leading to the right ahead is lined with high end shops. Still odd to me to see Bulgari in a shop front of a building built in the 15th century.

Sorry for the back end of the truck. They were already beginning to set up for Christmas market.
St. Gangolf's Church

Entrance to the Church just a portal between a leather goods store and a Gyro shop

Church construction begun in 1400s. Colors in the interior are late gothic.

The church was small, and Jeff had it to himself. 

Ceiling decorations were striking. This picture doesn't do the colors justice.
High Cathedral of St. Peter

The Cathedral and the adjacent Church of Our Lady are large - hard to get a picture especially with the Christmas market stalls going up in the plaza in front of it.
The cathedral was built over a Roman palace beginning in 310. The long central nave is lined by the original stone walls built by the Romans. We understand that underneath the cathedral are the remains of the first Christian assembly room north of the Alps (in the 200s). There is a tour of those areas under the Cathedral but unfortunately we didn't get to do that. The Cathedral was part of a much larger complex anciently that included 4 basilicas and other chapels and buildings. One of those basilicas on the south side of the Cathedral was torn down in the 1200s and replaced with the Gothic Church of Our Lady. It is one of the most beautiful we have visited and has amazing acoustics. It also has lovely stained glass windows.

The central nave from the east choir near the chapel of the Robe - more about that below

The central nave from the west choir. Notice the massive pipe organ on the left.
Ornate baptistry - children are baptized in the Catholic faith.
The west choir has a beautiful baroque ceiling

Large crypt in the west choir. Tenors to the left please. The sarcophagus contains the remains of the archbishop of Trier who lived from 1307-1354.

Relief depicting the final judgment of the wicked. Jesus is in the clouds with the angels and the wicked are cowering below. 

Relief showing the Final Judgment of the righteous who look up with longing to the Master. 

Just had to throw this in. This is the epitaph for some nobleman who reclines below the grim reaper. Macabre. 

Jeff said that this is the nursery. It's actually a gated entry to a spiral staircase.
The cathedral claims to hold the undivided robe that Christ wore just before the crucifixion and which was claimed by a Roman soldier. Several other churches claim to have this relic as well. According to legend, Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, discovered the seamless robe in the Holy Land in the year 327 or 328 along with several other relics, including the True Cross. According to different versions of the story, she either bequeathed it or sent it to the city of Trier, where Constantine had lived for some years before becoming emperor. It has been declared by some to be a medieval forgery. It is only displayed periodically -- the last time was in 2012. In 1996, more than a million pilgrims and gawkers came to see it. 

Many churches contain relics of various kinds. Trier claims to have the undivided robe of Christ. 
The Chapel of the Seamless Robe is in the East Choir of the Cathedral
People peering through glass and a gold gate at the enclosure of the robe. 
The cloisters

Romanesque cloisters along the interior courtyard

The courtyard is mostly a cemetery for bishops of Trier

Liebfrauenkirche - The Church of Our Lady

This 13th century Gothic church is beautiful. The original Roman basilica that preceded it was torn down to make room for this church in the 1200s. There are twelve columns with paintings of the 12 apostles. It is circular with four apses and 8 small chapels in between so that the interior design is in the shape of a rose petal. The stained glass is magnificent. And the acoustics are remarkable. They were broadcasting a single clear male voice singing a chant. Jeff sat down and listened for a while in quiet contemplation.

Lunch at the Weinstube

 Across the street from the Church of Our Lady was this quaint little restaurant. It was good to get out of the cold damp day into a warm room with friends and good food.

Weinstube Kesselstatt
Elder and Sister Stevens with Janet. They are doing records preservation in Wiesbaden.

Janet and Sister Stevens. We didn't drink any of that wine in the background.

What a wonderful group of people. We had a great lunch and played a fun game together. 
Next Stop -- The Roman Imperial Baths

Walls made of brick and stone more than 1500 years ago

An artist's rendering of what the baths were supposed to look like. They were never completed as baths as designed.

It was a raw day. 

Best part were the underground installations for heating and piping water to the baths.

Entering the catacombs

The installation underground was extensive and is still undergoing excavation

A large granite column near what would have been the "frigidarium" or cool baths

Look at the thickness of this archway. No wonder things lasted so long.

The brick and stone work is magnificent. Much of it was plastered and painted originally, but most of that exterior is gone.

From an observation tower at the site. It is quite large.

Large walls under restoration

To the Roman Amphitheater

We walked about 10 minutes to the Roman Amphitheater. It was built for shows including gladiators. None were there on the day we visited. However, after we paid the 5 Euros for admission and walked into the center of the amphitheater, our good friend Elder Jarrard broke into a very loud rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. It echoed in the arena, and made everyone laugh. We love Elder Jarrard. He always makes everyone laugh.

One thing that was never an issue in Europe when Jeff was on his mission - graffiti. It is everywhere. But at least it's creative and colorful graffiti. 

Model depicting the amphitheater that could seat 18,000 spectators on stone benches.
Chiseled from solid stone. Entry to a cell for actors or gladiators

Site of Elder Jarrard's performance

The stone for the benches was mostly removed in the middle ages and harvested for building material elsewhere

These were paving stones into which deep grooves were cut by wagon and chariot wheels

Constantine Basilica - Emporer Constantine's Throne Room

The Basilica of Constantine of Aula Palatina is awe inspiring. It is a Roman palace basilica that was built by the emperor Constantine (AD 306–337).

Today it is used as the Church of the Redeemer and owned by a congregation within the Evangelical Church (the Evangelical Church in Germany is one of two state-supported churches). The basilica contains the largest surviving hall from antiquity and is ranked a World Heritage Site. It is 220 feet long, 85 feet wide, and an awe inspiring 108 feet high.

The Aula Palatina was built around AD 310 as a part of the palace complex and was equipped with a floor and wall heating system. I kept thinking about people coming from warm, sunny Rome to gray, damp, cold Germany. I would go for heated walls and floors, too.

During the Middle Ages, it was used as the residence for the bishop of Trier. In the 17th century, the archbishop Lothar von Metternich constructed his palace just next to the Aula Palatina. Later in the 19th century, Frederick William IV of Prussia ordered the building to be restored to its original Roman state. In 1856, the Aula Palatina became a Protestant church. In 1944, the building burned due to an air raid of the allied forces during World War II. When it was repaired after the war, the historical inner decorations from the 19th century were not reconstructed, so that the brick walls are visible from the inside as well.

Exterior walls
The size is amazing

Imagine this pipe organ in the enormous space

After the bomb damage and fire in 1944, some heroic statues of Christ and some of his apostles were damaged beyond repair. But they rescued the heads.

There was more to see and do in Trier, but we had to call it a day.

The long history of this country and these places is remarkable. Wrenching change seems ahead for Europe with the flood of refugees migrating from Africa and the Middle East. This seat of western civilization is trying to come to grips with the changing demographics. We're posting this a week after the fact, and we were at a devotional this evening with a man who was sent by the Church emergency response organization to assess conditions with refugees across Europe and how we can help. The church is already providing supplies for things like personal hygiene kits that the refugees and church members work together to assemble for distribution to those in need. The church doesn't regard religion or politics. We just seek to care for the poor and needy as best we can. We hope for improvement, but there are now 60 million people worldwide who have been displaced from their homes. It's heartbreaking. The Master said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto these, ye have done it unto me."


  1. Beautiful and fascinating! I love learning about the ancient Roman ruins and restored ruins. We found a place like that east of Vienna. Impressive people.
    Interesting that the artist portrayed the wicked mostly naked and the righteous clothed.

    1. I hadn't noticed that. I'm sure there is a story behind that and someone schooled in art history would know why the judgment was depicted that way. Very cool.