Roman ruins and a new country visited! Trier & Luxembourg

Community Highlights Europe Roman ruins and a new country visited! Trier & Luxembourg

Roman ruins and a new country for us! We've spent the past few days in Trier, Germany, so close in proximity to Luxembourg that we thought, "Why not?"!

Trier, on the Mosel River (Mosel is another famous wine region! unfortunately no time to explore it, should have added a day or two to this itinerary!), is Germany's oldest city, an ancient Roman capital founded by Augustus in 16 BC. Trier was the capital of Rome's western sector, so it was treated to some pretty amazing monuments and urban projects! Still visible are the huge city gate, basilica, baths, the amphitheatre and Germany's oldest Christian church...

Blessed with some sunshine and armed with our Rick Steve's self-guided walking tour, we were able to walk the whole area of Old Town, seeing all of the above names sights! Porta Nigra (Black Gate) was ever so impressive, the only one of the original four Roman gates to survive medieval metal and stone scavengers, that being because at an early age the Porta became a church and wasn't originally Nigra (black), the light sandstone has just darkened with age, understandable since it's almost 2000 years old! A long, cobbled pedestrian street, peppered with lovely buildings, (need to ignore the 21stC storefronts and look up at the stunning architecture!) leads from the Roman gate to the hauptmarkt (market square), an area bustling with people, fruit, produce and flower stalls, a stand-up little wine bar (of course we had to have a wine here with the locals one evening!), beautiful fountains and statues, and a stone market cross (replica of the AD 958 original, which has been moved to the museum). The marketplace is a good area to observe the palatial surrounds, indicative of the power and wealth of the archbishop of Trier, who was one of seven German electors who chose the Holy Roman Emperor (needless to say, he was a rather pompous fellow, much disliked by the locals!).

Enroute we noticed several beautiful architectural styles, of note, an interesting 13thC Venetian-style building, House of the Three Magi, having a floating door one-storey up...originally this was a keep, used by wealthy men to hoard their money in, and the high door was the only way in or out. A wooden staircase that could be pulled in and out as necessary led to the ground floor, if there was danger of theft they hauled the stairs up! We also passed a huge, apparently controversial, statute of Karl Marx, gifted to Trier by China in 2018 to commemorate Marx's 200th birthday. Karl Marx was born here in Trier and both his birth house and his family home where he lived from an early age until manhood are commemorated, recognizing the historical legacy and "sphere of influence" attributed to Marxist beliefs.

Time for sitting in the sun in the marketplace with an Aperol spritz and a beer, before moving on to explore the stunning Dom, a massive cathedral, the oldest Christian church in Germany, dating back to 312 AD. It is huge now, and unbelievably was four times the size in its day! The altars inside are gloriously stunning, but there are two weird contemporary" paintings dating from 1972 (remember "mod" art from that era?!); the Dom is a pilgrimage site because it houses the supposed "Holy Robe of Christ".

Another impressive site was the Basilica/Imperial Throne Room of Constantine, dating from around 300 AD, the largest intact Roman structure outside of Rome, a perfect example of the genius of Roman engineering. The huge interior is spanned without pillars or columns, we wondered how it is all being held up! Both the amphitheatre and the ancient Roman baths date from that period, but they are more like you'd expect to see, stoney rubble and grassy knolls with outcroppings and walls poking out...the ornate pink Elector's Palace, with it's beautiful parkland and gardens, still houses the local government offices.

We had a lovely apartment to come back to, with Monika, the cheerful air bnb host, meeting us in person and showing us the ropes, which included a cute little balcony for sitting on to enjoy snacks and a glass of wine and lots of extras like a clothes washer, yummy foodstuffs, guidebooks and souvenir mugs! We ate our dinners in the apartment, trying to use up some of the food and wine we've stocked up over the weeks; we find that without the "big kids" around to help deplete supplies we are ending up with surplus!

Luxembourg, a landlocked little country we really know nothing about, is very close to Trier, so on Tuesday we popped over the border and headed for the Altstad, Old Town, of the capital city. Wikipedia tells us Luxembourg City is one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. The country has a constitutional monarch, Grand Duke Henry, and it's the world's only remaining grand duchy. History of the city dates back to the late 900 AD, when the first castle and walled fortifications were built on a rocky promontory...these old quarters and fortifications were declared a UNESCO world heritage site due to the exceptional preservation of the vast fortifications and the old city. Today Luxembourg is a thriving economic and political force in the European Union.

It appeared French is the primary language, but certainly German and English were spoken as well, apparently they have three official languages, Fr, Ger & Luxembourgish. Douglas was able to order our lunch and beer in French, delicious wun tun, hot & sour soup and cashew chicken with rice! Funny to eat Asian food in Luxembourg, but it was a real treat! We wandered the streets of old town, checking out the Ducal Palace, the old fortress and castle and the views from the embankments. Unfortunately, the rain choose to come down in earnest as we explored the city, so our adventure was cut short...a coffee and an apricot pastry to fortify us for the road and we were on our way back to the nest in Trier! The good news...! gas in Luxembourg is the cheapest in all of Europe, prices all over the country identical and state controlled, only €1.26/litre (too bad we only needed 10L, our smallest fill-up!

We wandered the streets of Trier that evening to get our step-count up to 10,000+ and so Tracy could see Porta Nigra with the lights on (well, really just so she could go to the stand-up wine bar!), the rain didn't seem to dampen the local's spirit for a glass of wine. We met a fellow who spoke some English that said he'd lived in Shilo, Manitoba, on manoeuvres with the German army... Douglas actually knew about Shilo, which I did not, so that was a fun conversation, adding to our fond memories of Trier!

This featured blog entry was written by twodrifters07 from the blog Germany & Eastern Europe.
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By twodrifters07

Posted Wed, Apr 24, 2019 | Germany | Comments