Although it has been awhile, I have written before of my love affair with Germany, arguably Europe’s most dynamic country…and certainly the continent’s contemporary economic powerhouse. From the picturesque crags of the Alps in the south to the liberal port cities of Hamburg and Bremen in the north, Deutschland has something on offer for nearly everyone.
The most famous river in Germany, the Rhine, is lined with a series of factory towns that contribute to the country’s robust economy. It is along the southern banks of a different river. the Moselle, that one of my favorite cities resides…just far enough off the beaten touristic path to feel perfectly undiscovered. Trier, the oldest city in Germany, is home to a cluster of Roman ruins, the northernmost collection in mainland Europe.
The Porta Nigra, or “Black Gate,” is the formal entrance into central Trier, and dates back to the what some historians say is the fourth century A.C.E. and some say is the second century.
I like the splash of color that these autumn colors bring to the picture on what was an otherwise overcast, almost colorless day.
You can climb to the top of the gate and peer between the arches towards the western half of the city. Behold, pedestrianized Simeonstrasse and Trierer Dom (Trier Cathedral).
Just south of town, the Roman Amphitheatre pictured above, dates back to the second century and is said to have held crowds of 20,000 hungry to witness gladiators battle to the death.
The Amphitheatre joins the aforementioned Porta Nigra, Cathedral and St. Peter, and other Trier monuments on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
North of the Roman Amphitheatre lies the Kaiserthermen (Imperial Baths), perhaps the city’s most evocative ruins.
The large “campus” that comprises the Kaiserthermen includes a green lawn and a series of underground tunnels that connect different bathhouse to one another.
The Kaiserthermen from afar, giving a sense of size. The modern building on the left is the site museum, housing sculptures recovered from the ruins.
Between the small museum at the Kaiserthermen, above, and the much larger Rheinisches Landesmuseum, lovers of ancient artifacts will find much to whet their appetite….
…including these Egyptian mummies!
A smaller bathhouse ruin, the Barbarathermen, sits in a leafy section of Trier to the north west of the Kaiserthermen, not far from the river. It is believed that the Barbara Baths once doubled as a medieval castle. (In all honesty, this isn’t a great picture. These baths are closed for preservation but I thought the shot came out okay considering that I had to shoot the image through a wrought-iron gate.)
The river itself is perfect for strolling along. The Roman Bridge, above, dates back to the second century and is a masterpiece of construction, still being used today.
Also dating back to Roman times is this treadwheel-powered Roman crane, one of two to dot the riverfront pathway.
A rather long walk west along the river (it was cold outside!) leads to a site that, frankly, deserves more fanfare: The Abtei St. Matthias (St. Matthias’ Abbey) is a gorgeous, Renaissance-style monastery housing the tomb of St. Matthew, the only apostle to be buried north of the Alps.
The simple, yet magnificent, tomb of St. Matthew, in the abbey’s subterranean crypt.
Walking back towards the center of town, I passed something decidedly different than the Monastery of St. Matthew: the birth house of Karl Marx.
I spent two jam-packed days exploring Trier, and could’ve stayed longer. As I passed the Porta Nigra one last time en route to the train station, where I would embark for Luxembourg (a photo gallery for another month, perhaps), I couldn’t help but gaze upon this imposing entryway, one of the most majestic in Europe. Long after we are gone from this earth, the soot-stained Porta Nigra will remain. As the saying goes, they don’t make ’em as they used to.
All pictures were taken with a Nikon DSLR camera. All images are the property of GringoPotpourri unless credited otherwise, and should be used with permission only.