Day 53: Roman Trier

The city of Trier is upstream of us on the Mosel river, and was the capital of the western Roman Empire.  It has a large collection of Roman ruins, many well preserved and functional.  This was our destination for our 2nd full day in the region.  We could have done more castle, but variety is needed to keep the kids amused.

Little remains of the walls of Trier, other than a single dirty gate known as the Porta Nigra.  It avoided being scavenged for building material as the pious St. Simeon took up residence within it for many years, and then its was converted into a church and monastery.  As such it survives to this day, a little bit of wall completely out of context.  This thing was build with no mortar, only carefully cut stones with iron bars to hold them together.

Holding with the tradition that all amazing buildings which remain standing to this day, regardless of their original purpose, eventually become a church, we continued on to see St. Peter’s, built on the former palace of Helena, mother of Constantine.  Appropriate, I suppose, as Constantine legalized Christianity in the Roman empire.  In actual fact, little of the original palace remains, it was only a temporary church (albeit 4 times the size of the Catholic cathedral which replaced it).

The most amazing building, though, was probably the Basilica and Imperal Throne Room of Contantine.  The aforementioned Porta Nigra could actually fit inside this massive space.  Note that there are no pillars anywhere holding things up.  Somehow or other the Romans managed to build this thing’s flat ceiling out of wood, with triangular trusses on the outside, above the ceiling, to support it, sort of like you might see with a modern day aircraft hangar.  The ceiling of today is a modern one.  While the purpose of this building changed many times over the centuries it is now, of course, a church (although Protestant this time, not Catholic).

Finally we saw a massive bath ruin, a civil project that got out of control financially and was never put into operation, and an amphitheatre.

Picture for today can be found here.

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