Trier, the most important outpost of the Roman Empire on the border with Germania, is the oldest city in Germany and has extraordinary evidence of the four hundred years of the Roman era. Numerous architectural monuments such as the Roman amphitheater, the Imperial Baths and the Constantine Basilica are of Roman origin. The Trier Cathedral is the oldest German bishop’s church, the Porta Nigra from the 2nd century the most famous Roman monument in Germany and Trier’s landmark according to politicsezine.
|Official title:||Roman monuments, cathedral and Church of Our Lady in Trier|
|Cultural monument:||oldest city in Germany with 400 years of Roman history and the Christian successors built on the ruins of Roman buildings|
|Location:||Trier on the Moselle|
|Meaning:||“A second Rome” in harmony with the medieval city|
|around 16. BC Chr.||Foundation of the city of Augusta Treverorum|
|1./2. Century||Amphitheater with 20,000 seats; Barbarathermen (42,000 m²), city wall with the Porta Nigra (north gate)|
|at 286||»Kaiserthermen«, the third largest thermal baths in the Roman Empire|
|293-395||Imperial seat for the Western Roman Empire|
|1034-42||Conversion of the Porta Nigra to the Simeonskirche|
|1190||Codification of city rights|
|13th century||Romanesque-Gothic cathedral and early Gothic Church of Our Lady|
|1972||Memorandum “Save the Roman Trier”|
|1993||Treasure find with 2558 Roman gold coins|
|1996||Temporary excavation protection area around the amphitheater|
|2012||Discovery of a Roman burial ground in Trier with around 130 graves from the time of 30 BC. BC to about 350 AD including additions|
A second Rome on the Moselle
The clumsy legions have long been pushed into the strategic reserve. The new mobile reaction force on horseback now accompanies the extensive campaigns of the Roman emperors. In general, times have become fast moving, the ancient millennium, an age of apparent continuity, is drawing to a close. The ungovernable world of the gigantic Roman Empire breaks up again into regions.
Between Metz, Trier and the safe Rhine border, a model country emerged in the centuries after Julius Caesar, a flourishing cultural province in which it was possible to live securely and get rich. The jagged sandstone of the Igeler grave monument of the wealthy Secundiner family bears eloquent testimony to the self-confidence of the local money nobility. The cloth trade fed his husband. The grapevine brew of high-yield sunny slopes also sold splendidly, regardless of whether the Moselle wine was shipped solidly in Gallic stave barrels or as a “classic producer bottling” with urban chic in the amphora. The granaries of the up-and-coming metropolis burst from the produce of the huge country estates, on whose fields the grain had long been removed with rational harvesting machines.
“Augusta Treverorum” was certainly not a provincial nest, but it was Constantine’s “Caesarian building passion” that gave it real imperial splendor. The necessary representative buildings such as the »Palatium« were erected within a few years. And even if entire districts had to give way for this, the vastness of the palace auditorium, which was comfortably heated in the cold northern winter, impressed the contemporaries.
Despite all efforts, Trier, the “second Rome”, never quite emerged from the shadow of its great role model on the Tiber. Unlike the Greco-Roman Constantinople – “third Rome” on the Bosporus – Trier’s heyday as a western Roman metropolis and capital of the Gallic prefecture was comparatively short. His trace is lost in the tribulations of late antiquity.
Hardly any prominent pillagers missed this attractive prestige object. Looted no less than four times, the Normans ultimately left behind an urban desert. But Trier rose again and again like a phoenix from the ashes. The city’s secret of survival was and is the seamless amalgamation of old and new. Unique, state-of-the-art buildings emerged from the ruins, continuously updated, but always committed to the ancient architectural concept. Up to the present day the Constantinian double church dominates the inner city of Trier.
Even in the chaos of the early Middle Ages, relations with the Italian builders’ huts trained in the art of stone construction were never completely broken. If the irreplaceable, monolithic granite columns fell from the Romans, they made do with building material recycling. The replacement mostly came from the disused temple complexes in the area.
Antiquity survived in the form of monumental relics. Following the mood of their Romanesque new tenants, they merged with respectable new buildings. The west facade of the Trier Cathedral presents itself as an ingenious Romanesque achievement, but the nave is essentially Roman. The ancient pillars are still stuck in the stable crossing pillars of this »square building«. Even the mighty Porta Nigra, once the city gate on the northern Trier arterial road, would have been leveled if the bulwark had not proven its suitability as an emergency church for centuries. In the meantime, the Romanesque choir had grown so tightly together with the iron-braced sandstone blocks of the Roman gateway that not even a rigorously appointed “monument protector” like Napoleon was able to separate the unequal twins.