Hello, again, Blogonauts!
Rhetorically, you may ask where I am: Am I in the Celtic region of Europe? Am I exploring Rome's ancient civilization & culture? Or am I in modern day Germany?
The only accurate answer to all three questions is, "Yes!"
On Sunday I scooted back across the border into Germany to visit Trier, arguably one of the most broadly historic cities in the country.
Back in the Bronze Age, Trier began as a Celtic city, which means they had a wicked good basketball team. Wait...that's different Celtics.
Anyway, these non-basketball Celts established Treuorum on the banks of the Mosel River around 400 BCE. They discovered that they could grow really good grapes here, and trade the wine they produced with their neighbors for other stuff they wanted.
Three centuries later, Caesar Augustus decided he liked the way Trier had prospered, and so he (and a few thousand centurions) captured it and renamed it after himself: Augusta Treverorum. (The French still refer to the city as "Treves," which is what was on my train ticket from Strasbourg.)
This happened so long ago, and so early in the development of civilization north of the Alps that Trier is considered to be the oldest city in Germany. And from the looks of what's here, they've been able to preserve much of that antiquity.
For example, the Porta Nigra which began as one of the four gates in the city wall, proudly towers over one end of the pedestrianized (and heavily patronized) central city.
Trier quickly transformed from a Celtic civilization to a Roman one. They easily acclimated to the customs of their conquerors and strived to replicate the lives of other Romans elsewhere in the empire. Therefore, what is found in Trier seems remarkably like what is found a thousand kilometers away in Rome itself.
Over time, this habit of being more Roman than the Romans made Trier most attractive to the Imperial Wizards...errrr...sorry...to the Emperors. By the time Constantine became Emperor, Trier had achieve such status that it served as one of the capitals of the empire itself. Thus, Constantine built a basilica to serve as his throne room when he was in town...all this before settling down in Constantinople. (That basilica survives still as a Protestant church.)
But if you recall, Constantine had a very influential mother, by the name of Helena, and she seemed to enjoy life in Augusta Treverorum. But Helena had also taken up the new religion, Christianity. She imported that belief system (and a whole load of relics, including a tunic supposedly worn by Jesus) to Augusta Treverorum.
And wherever you have Christians, you will find a church. After all, they need some place to house all that sanctified stuff. Plus it's better to have a roof over your head for Sunday mass.
And so it is often said that Helena (now elevated to sainthood) had the first church in Germany built here. Its successor, The Cathedral of St. Peter (named after St. Peter's in Rome) continues to this day on the same spot of the original building.
The city was bolstered with Imperial money for several centuries, but as the western Roman empire was conquered and crumbled, so did the fortunes of Trier. Eventually, though, Charlemagne was able to (kind of) unite several feuding factions, and thus this area became a part of the Holy Roman Empire. Trier became a Bishopric, which means the bishop governs both church and state. And as such, Trier's archbishop was one of the Electors who helped to select the Holy Roman Emperor.
The Archbishop, however, was not generally liked by the local townspeople. Often he was out of town, and seemed to be almost an absentee landlord.
So when they could, they protested against him. This antagonism shows up in the architecture: There are two knights standing on the corners of the 15th-century town hall. The friendly knight looks toward the marketplace in the square. The more wary knight, with the visor on his helmet drawn and his hand on his sword, looks toward the palace of the archbishop.
I'll leave off the discussion of Trier's history. You can find photos in the album with the same title as this blog entry.
However, I'm trying something new, in hopes that it will work better: I've created a Google Photos album that should be available to anyone who reads this. It countains more pictures, and of much higher quality than those here on the OffExploring site. (You may have to copy-and-past the link in your browser. If it doesn't work, you can always follow the same procedure as last time to see some of the photos.)
With that said, tomorrow, I'm back on the train with plans to follow up on that Charlemagne comment. There's your tease!
Blog to you later!