Day By Day

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Through the Heart of Europe -- Part 7, Trier

We docked at Trier in the Rhineland-Palatinate, which claims to be the oldest city in Germany. It certainly is old, having been settled more than two thousand years ago. It is also the oldest seat of a Christian bishop north of the Alps.

While walking from our bus to the historical center of town we passed this building and it caught my eye. I just like the pattern the window and lamp make.

Trier was extremely important politically. Not only was the Archbishop of Trier an important figure in the Catholic hierarchy and a very large landowner, he was also an elector [one of seven men who chose the emperor] of the Holy Roman Empire. His influence was felt throughout northern Europe.

This is the front of the Elector's Palace in Trier, constructed in the eighteenth century. The building is lopsided because it could not be finished without doing damage to the city's most famous structure.

That structure would be the Constantine Basilica, constructed in the fourth century by Emperor Constantine the Great. Here we see it towering over the Elector's Palace.

The palace garden, once the site of a monastery where, we were informed, Saint Augustine was educated.

The Basilica, constructed by Emperor Constantine back in the fourth century AD. Today it is a Protestant church. For centuries Trier served as an imperial residence.

One of the towers of the bishop's cathedral. Various portions of it were constructed in different eras and so it is a visual representation of the architectural history of the region. The lower parts of this tower were constructed in Romanesque style while the top was early Gothic.

And this adjacent section represents northern high Gothic architecture.

The central market. I was here early in the morning and the vendors were just setting up.

Just a few blocks from the bishop's cathedral is this independent church, constructed by Trier's artisan guilds. They built it just a few feet taller than the highest tower in the Dom -- an indication of some of the social and political tensions that troubled the city in the middle ages.

The House of the Three Magi, first constructed in 1230. Today the first floor [not shown] is a store, but it used to be a plain wall with no entrances. On the right is a floating door which was the way you entered the building, climbing a retractable set of stairs. Putting the entrance on the second floor is an indication of the need for protection residents of Trier felt during the high middle ages.

The Porta Nigra [the Black Gate] -- a Roman gatehouse built in 180 AD. In the eleventh century it was the residence of Saint Simeon, who died there. After his death the gate was converted into a church and was used as such for centuries.

The pathway leading back to the river and our boat. It was a nice stroll through a gorgeous town. There was one local sight we missed. Karl Marx was born in Trier and his home is now a museum to his life and work. Somehow I didn't mind missing it.

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