Well so as not to keep you in suspense… My ankles are just fine. Exemplary in fact. Everyone says so.
Leslie’s back hurts though. Too much wine is my thought although she doesn’t agree. But it’s my blog, so wine it is. It could be the editing too. I hear that too much over-correction can put things out of alignment and she’s definitely been bugging me about the typos, auto-corrects and simply nonsensical sentences I’ve been postings. But I say “Pah!” What does she know, she’s so drunk all the time her back hurts!
I do think the days at too full to document so I might try moving to point form or some such other clever literary device to convey substance at the expense of pithy prose. You all will just have to suffer along because, as I said, it’s my blog…
Breakfast… Pretty much the same as yesterday but Carmen had some pineapple. Today looks to be more old quarter, although we a looking at a boat trip up the Mosel for tomorrow.
Grocery: wine, beer and chocolate. Bottle recycling machine. Cool.
Back in the Trier Cathedral of St Peter, we popped in for a moment as it was opening to get out of the cool air while we waited for the basilica to open. And I noticed one of the reasons that none of the cathedrals so far have compared to my favourite churches: sound. The aural experience of these structures is as much of the magnificence as the visual one. And no matter how many signs saying silence, nor how hard the tourists try, the ambient noise levels climb past the point of truly feeling the sound. With only a dozen of us in the space, the acoustics were now an integral part of the experience.
You feel as well as hear each step, each breath, each clang of a door. As I sit and listen more and more people arrive and the moment slips away in whispers, rumbles and footsteps.
The Basilica of our Lady, built 1227-1260, is the earliest gothic church in Germany. The complex here has always had many buildings attached due to its role as seat of the government, thus the cathedral, basilica, cloisters and many administrative buildings are all attached. This structure is much more traditionally gothic without any of the romanesque elements in the cathedral and much more of a designed whole, lacking the piecemeal feel of its neighbor.
We arrived in time for the perfect morning light streaming through the eastern choir. Very few people and the aural and visual delight are stunning. One could just sit and breathe all day. And take pictures trying to capture the light…
Soon enough though people arrive and the busy day of the basilica as a tourist destination begins.
On the way to our next stop I stopped by an antiquities store. He was selling coins and after some waffling purchased a coin from the reign of Claudius: 41-54 AD. Only a bronze piece although he had a gold piece from Augustus (who founded the city). I now own something almost 2 millennia old… Gack!
Constantine’s Basilica was actually Constantine the Great’s throne room. Post 300 AD, Trier was the western capital of the Roman empire and this structure was there to state his place in the order of the world.
In 407 it was plundered by Franks after the Romans withdrew and it’s outlying buildings were integrated into new government buildings. But the Franks lacked the “ideological and political” will to rebuild the throne room and it remained without a roof.
It was refurbished into a castle with battlements in the medieval period and served as the Archbishops residence beginning 13th century.
Starting in 1614 it was partially torn down and one wall and the nave were integrated into a palace.
In 1794 French revolutionary troops arrived and complex became barracks and hospital. They ‘donated’ the buildings to city of Trier to avoid maintenance costs. The Prussians arrived in 1814 and contunued to use the building for military use. In 1835 Trier gave the complex to Prussian Crown Prince Frederick William IV who later became King.
The Romantics of the 19th century led by Frederick William reconstructed the throne room as The Protestant Church of the Redeemer. They created a monument to Prussian power with “its genesis in the imperial power of Constantine the Great”. It was opened as a church in 1856.
Frederick William sought to strengthen the ties between religion and state and this project was one of his symbols; but this policy came with long term consequences when Germans faced the rise of Nazism.
Burned In a firestorm on August 14, 1944, many Germans saw it not as a huge loss, but as a chance for redemption as the church both as an organization and a congregation in this building had not rejected the Nazi philosophies. After much debate it was rebuilt along the lines of the original throne room and rededicated 1956.
2 walls remained with the original Roman brick as well as the subterranean heating systems. Awe inspiring and an example of what was lost in the ‘dark’ ages.
Extending from the east of the basilica extend the Imperial Palace and its formal gardens. Some kind soul had put leg warmers and headbands on some of the statues. The ducks floating in the pond, alas, had nothing to keep them warm, which led to conjecture and imitations of a duck wearing leg warmers doing the Maniac song. I got no applause, but a few stares and a giggle or two.
We passed through a gate in the medieval wall and stopped in to visit the Rheinisches Landesmuseum. This is essentially a museum of the history of the region surrounding Trier. This museum alone makes the visit here worthwhile.
But, before we enter, I think I will take a moment and talk ankle. It seems that I had Carmen pegged all wrong. I’ve alway seen her ankles (seen in a metaphorical way…) as warriors. Major players but, in the end, not the bringers of civilization.
I was wrong.
Outside the Rheinisches Landesmuseum we all learned who Carmen’s ankle progenitor really was… Constantine I. Constantine the Great and Carmen the Editor share the exact same feet. From toe lengths to toe nails, Carmen’s foot matched the Big C’s foot in every way. It was freaky. Really, really freaky.
So I guess I do have to revisit the relative value of Carmen’s ankles. Perhaps, in some small way, they even exceed my own. Constantine the Great, champion of Christianity, bringer of laws, founder of Constantinople… Such a legacy for such tiny ankles. Carmen. We salute your feet.
But back in the museum, we started with some Ice age bones and tools and some Bronze age artifacts. A couple of rooms later we moved into the Celts & Gauls. Not much of a civilization but they had some cool artifacts.
Julius Caesar arrived in the area between 58 & 50 BC and soon it was a Roman province. There were awesome mosaics and lots of statuary and stone work. My favorite piece was a map of the known world on scroll about 25 feet long. Given that it was a scroll and only about 18″ high, fitting all of Europe and bits of Africa and Asia in, it was a work of art in itself. As soon as you got used to the odd structure forced on you by the dimensions, it was a fascinating work of cartography.
Lunch was in the museum cafe. Leslie had a curry soup you could smell before it hit the table, I had a baloney, pickle and cheese salad and whatever Carmen ordered is better off not being talked about. Isn’t German fun!
After lunch it was Augustus and founding of Augustus Treverorum (ancient Trier) and more artifacts.
Eventually in 5th century, Rome had all but withdrawn from the region and the Franks moved in. At this point the city became a disorganized collection of inhabitants and all the great Roman works like the baths, colosseum, even the city walls crumbled.
The founding of Hauptmarkt in 958 became nucleus of the new medieval city and the population began to grow.
Later in the Middle Ages the city developed once again, rebuilding walls and churches and become an thriving economy once more.
The next displays encompassed the 14th & 15th centuries bright rediscovery of classical ideas and the birth of humanism.
Then the Reformation, finally taking hold after the end of the 30 Years War 1618-1648. From this period through the Baroque period until the French Revolution the city prospered as a centre of religion and commerce. But as the French Revolutionary Army invaded and effectively ended the Holy Roman Empire, Trier faded to just another Prussian Rhine town.
It was, as I said, a stunning museum, and I would encourage any European travelers to make it a ‘must see’ in their list.
Soon it was back to the tourism center. We booked a passenger boat ride as far as Piesport tomorrow. We will hop off and enjoy the town (and hopefully wine) and then hop back on as the boat passes on its return swing.
We stopped at a wienstube and had a 3 wine sampler. Oddly enough, the sweet was one of my favorites.
Afterwards we wandered back to the hotel to freshen up and then headed out to Kartoffel Kiste for meat, I mean dinner. A couple if beers later and we called it a night. Tomorrow is an early day.