Trier and Burg Eltz
The next stop on our German adventure was Trier. I was interested in going there primarily because of the Roman ruins. Trier was a large Roman city in the 4th century, and several ruins from the period still exist and draw visitors. But before we made it to Trier we took at little detour to see Burg Eltz, a medieval castle that is still owned by the original family.
Burg Eltz is quite remote and you have to take a bus from the parking lot to the entrance (unless you want to hike). As you can see, the castle is built high and the construction seems higgledy-piggledy. Multiple branches of the family lived there during the medieval period, which the tour guide was quick to point out. Each had their own apartment in the castle.
One of the most interesting architectural features in the castle (and other castles of the time), are these out-cropped chapels. Because church law at the time said that no building could be above the house of God (or something to that effect), this chapel was built in an outcropped alcove like this. A clever bending of the rules!
After the fiasco that was checking out of our hotel in Bacharach, we were very happy to arrive in Trier at the Mecure Hotel, a more modern hotel with an amazing view of Porta Nigra (seriously it was right across the street from this beautiful Roman ruin!).
As you can probably tell from this photo, the weather in Trier wasn’t the best. I actually had to pop into Zara to buy a rain jacket when it began to pour rain one day. Despite this, there were still lots of gelato places open and doing a bustling trade during our stay (of which I was only too happy to be a customer).
Porta Nigra (Black Gate)
The main attraction of Trier is the old Roman city gate which stills stands. It’s three stories tall and totally open for visitors (provided you pay the entrance fee).
Porta Nigra is a popular place for school trips, and for grandparents to take their grandchildren, if my observations are any indication. Its also right next to the tourist information office. So tourist central, but still worth the visit, especially if you’re interested in Roman history (which I am!).
I never get tired of touring old churches, never. And if you think about it, my interest makes sense. For hundreds of years in Europe, the town church was the swankiest place in town. Ornamentation, artwork, tombs, and golden altar candle sticks, oh my! This is especially true of the pre-Enlightenment/buying your way into heaven with generous contributions to the church era of churches. And Trier didn’t disappoint.
Check out those gothic columns and front facade! The inside is huge and has lots of nooks and crannies to explore
This was one of the most interesting altar pieces I’ve ever seen. The center opens into a recess that is golden and rose colored. There’s a golden crucifix and stars above in the recess. Perhaps this is to remind supplicants of heaven and the sublime?
Built at the beginning of the 4th century as a palace basilica, but now used and owned by the evangelical church, the Aula Palaina lacks all the nooks and crannies of the previous churches we visited. But what it lacks in exploreable corners it makes up for in vast size. Ornamentation is sparse, which leaves you to focus on the simple architecture.
Roman Baths and Amphitheater
Seriously, Trier is a treasure trove of Roman ruins. The baths here are a much more sprawling affair than the Baths in Bath, England. I think they were also used as some kind of headquarters during the First World War, which would explain why the underground portions are so well-preserved.
The amphitheater was really cool and surprisingly well preserved. We practically had the place to ourselves and got to explore the seating, as well as the underground portions that housed the fighters, animals, and let’s face it, probably prisoners. The weather even held out for us, a nice bonus for our first visit to a Roman amphitheater!
Roman ruins! (can you tell I’m a fan?)
The best meal we had in all of Germany, burgers at Burgeramt
The weather. I’m talking pouring rain
Mediocre food (except for that one meal), and one that was truly disgusting
Have you read my last blog post about our time in Bacharach, Germany? You can here!