Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trip to Trier

Last week we had an unexpected trip to Ramstein, so Jon could have some medical testing done at the large hospital there (he's fine) but the trip gave us an opportunity to take some time that weekend to visit the city of Trier, near the border with Luxembourg. 
Trier is Germany's oldest city and was once the seat of government for thee Western Roman Empire.  It's been on our list to visit for a while, so we were all excited to go ... especially as it had been quite a while since we'd had a night away from our house.
Jon was also excited to receive a new wide-angle camera lens in the mail the day we left.  It was something of a late promotion present to himself, and it came in very handy.

Trier's most famous landmark is the Porta Nigra (or black gate).  The last of four Roman gates that originally controlled access to the city roughly 2000 years ago.  It survived because it had also been consecrated as a church and thus wasn't torn apart by looters looking to steal the metal supports that hold it together.
Here you can see Jen and the girls having a quick game of Simon Says, while Jon ran across the street for a quick picture.

Trier's central square is rather large with a collection of unique buildings dating back hundreds of years.  It was a great place for a stroll, with lots of history of it's own.  Jen got into a conversation with a local about the various buildings before we realized she was speaking with a professional guide who was looking for customers.

The Trier Basilica was originally erected as the throne room for the Constantine, the Emperor who declared Christianity to be the official religion of Rome.  Although the original interior decorations are all gone, the structure itself is the original brick and the largest intact Roman building outside Rome.  If you look closely at the lower left section of the wall, you'll see many holes.  These holes held pipes that were used to heat the cathedral during the winter ... something that the Romans weren't used to needing to do.

The town also had a great museum, as you would guess, an impressive collection of Roman artifacts.  Here's Ellie looking at a hoard of thousands of gold Roman coins discovered just a few years ago in the city.  It's the largest collection of Roman coins ever found and was quite impressive.   Coins from Constantine, Claudius, Nero, and pretty much every other emperor you'd ever heard of were there.

The girls also got a kick looking at the many stone carvings and mosaics.  Here's they're looking at a boat (wineshift) used to transport wine down the Moselle river.  Even today, the region is famous for its wine.  Mommy is having everyone count oars (while trying to keep Ellie from actually touching the sculpture).

Here we are approaching the entrance to Trier's cathedral.  It was originally build by Constantine, and when he declared Christianity to be Rome's religion he directed two cathedrals be built ... St. Paul's in Rome, and this one, St. Paul's in Trier.  The original Cathedral has been largely destroyed, and was about 4x larger.  Where Jon stood to take this picture would have been at the edge of the original structure.  Also note Kate in the pink at the lower right.  She and Ellie had fun running around the courtyard.  We went inside twice over the two days we were there, and both times managed to show up right before a mass.  While this limited our ability to explore the Cathedral itself, it was pretty neat to see a service in a cathedral of this historical importance.

Here's a look at the side of the Cathedral showing one of the sections of the original structure.  You can see the outlines of  the original, wide windows that have since been replaced by the narrower ones visible today.  It was incredible to think this had been standing for nearly 2000 years.

Attached to the main cathedral was a more recent (13th century) Gothic cathedral with beautiful stained glass.  The setting sun filled it with color.
For such a quick trip, we all piled into a one room hotel room.  While it would be a little tight for an extended stay, to our surprise we all managed to get some sleep.  Here's Miranda enjoying some time outside the stroller while Kate and Ellie play for a few minutes before dinner in the hotel restaurant.
On our way our of the city the following afternoon, we attempted to stop at one more sight ... the remains of the Roman amphitheater where gladiator matches were held.  The amphitheater was closed, but we did take a quick drive up this hillside to get a final view of the city.  Vineyards were everywhere.  You can see the amphitheater in the bottom left and the Basilica and Cathedral in the distance on the right.

All in all it was great trip and we're glad to have made it.  We hope you enjoyed seeing the picures.  Now if only Jon didn't have to go back to work.




Anonymous said...

Great pictures! Those girls look like they are taking it all in!!! What a gift you are giving them. The Plantes and Mausers are so very thankful your trip brought lots of good results and great fun!
We love you,
A & J

Irishdrums said...

Neat! Looks like a beautiful place to visit and see the sites. Your girls are seeing the world! How great!

Nana said...

Wow, another great trip. How interesting! And the girls seem to be doing great. I wonder if they will remember any of these places.

beth and melinda said...

everything ok with Jon?

scott davidson said...

What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee, http://EN.WahooArt.com/A55A04/w.nsf/OPRA/BRUE-8LT475.
The image can be seen at wahooart.com who can supply you with a canvas print of it.