Day 23 and 24: Trier


The Porta Nigra.

The Oldest City in Germany

(Tuesday and Wednesday - June 26-27, 2018)

I took the train, and for the next two days explored Trier. Yes, I did see much of the Rhine River that I saw on my bicycle tour, but it was a much faster journey. I also saw some of the Moselle - though I napped some too.

Trier is considered the oldest city in Germany, founded in the late 4th Century BCE by the Celts... specifically the Treveri tribe, it was conquered by the Romans in the late 1st Century BCE by Julius Caesar. It was later turned into an imperial city by Caesar Augustus, named Augusta Treverorum (City of Augustus among the Treveri). Some spectacular Roma architectural remains survive, including the famous Porta Nigra, or Black Gate - the old northern gate entrance to the city. The only reason it survived and wasn´t levelled for it´s stone in the middle ages was because it was incorporated into a church.

Other important Roman and Late-Roman locations is Constantine´s basilica. A basilica in Roman times, before Christianity, was a large government building for offical pronouncements. It had a large nave area, with no seats, where everyone but the local governor or praefect must stand and a curved area at one end, called an apse. The apse accoustics allowed the voice of the person standing in it to be projected and was used as a sort of high area or throne for the official. Not surprisingly, this same type of building was useful as a church and the form and name was adopted by the early Roman church.

This particular basilica was built by Constantine the Great, better known as Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire in today´s Istanbul (or, um, Constantinople). But when this was built Constantine was ruler of the Western Roman Empire (the Empire had been split earlier to make it easier to manage - this didn´t turn out so well for the Western Roman Empire...).

I also visited the Rheinland-Palatinate Landesmusem to see more Roman finds, but I also took a city tour and learned about some of the older medieval buidings. How the crusades influenced architectural styles, and the later baroque palace built onto Constantines Basilica.

Oh, and I also visited the birthhome and museum to Karl Marx. Karl Marx, of course, is the 19th Century philosopher, economist, and political theorist that wrote Das Kapital (Capital) and The Communist Manifesto. The museum is very interesting and points out, as many do, that the International Socialist Movement to improve working people´s lives and create more fair economies and just political structures, is not the same as Socialist (or Chinese) Communism. The SPD, or Social Democratic Party of Germany is one of the two leading political parties in Germany. Willy Brandt, an SPD politician, was chancellor of Germany from 1969 to 1974 (the chancellor is the closest thing to our President in Germany), and today the SPD is part of the current government coalition (led by the CDU - Christian Democratic Union that chancellor Angela Merkel is part of). The Soviet Communists and other extreme leftists split from the mainstay of Socialists early in their history and today, in much of Europe, Democratic Socialists - who advocate for representative democracy - are very common.

It was a good two day outing, seeing some interesting history in an an interesting city... but I´m also getting a bit anxious to finally return home.

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