The Cathedral of Trier


 Trier is the oldest seat of a Christian bishop north of the Alps. In the Middle Ages, the Archbishop of Trier was an important ecclesiastical prince, as the Archbishopric of Trier controlled land from the French border to the Rhine. He was also one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire.

Though it might be mistaken for a fortress, Trier Cathedral (Dom St. Peter) houses an impressive collection of artworks, architecture and holy relics. It is also of considerable historical significance, as the oldest church in Germany.

Today, Trier Cathedral remains a working Catholic cathedral and an important Catholic shrine that still receives pilgrims.

Christianity first arrived in Trier as early as the late 100s AD, although local legend has it that the faith was established in the first century by a bishop sent by the apostle Peter himself.  The history of Dom St. Peter begins in Roman times, when a church was built by Constantine, the first Christian emperor, over the palace of his mother Helena. Construction began in 326 AD, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his reign. He also began St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to mark the occasion. The Constantinian church was four times as big as the present-day cathedral, covering the area of the cathedral, the Leibfrauenkirche, the Cathedral Square, the adjoining garden, and the houses almost up to the Markt. After extensive damage in the 5th and 9th centuries, the surviving part of Constantine’s church was enlarged with major additions in the Romanesque style in 1035. Gothic and Baroque touches were later added, and the various styles blend nicely together, bringing a timeless unity to the interior.

Inside the Cathedral of Trier

Here is where the said Holy Robe of Christ is housed.  There were tons of people who had made the pilgrimage to  see the  robe.  I never could see it, but I took a picture of the gate anyway. 

The story goes that  Empress St. Helena  (known for her pilgrimages to the Holy Land) brought the Holy Robe of Christ from Jerusalem and entrusted it to her son’s new church at Trier.

The Holy Robe is the seamless garment said to be worn by Christ during the Crucifixion. The Holy Robe was first displayed in Trier in 1512 for a period of 23 days, during which more than 100,000 pilgrims came to venerate it.

The next year, a wooden balcony was built onto the west front of the cathedral in order to display the Holy Robe and the other Trier relics to crowds gathered in Cathedral Square. Since then, it has been periodically displayed since then, attracting ever-larger crowds.  I guess we visited at just the right time.

Anne made the pilgrimage with us to see the Holy Robe.  She kept asking me what we were looking for. 


 The Palace Basilica of Constantine

Today the Palace Basilica of Constantine houses the Protestant church (the only one in Trier).  The building is the largest single-room Roman structure to be preserved from ancient times. The Aula Palatina (Palatinate hall), also known as the Konstantin Basilika (Basilica of Constantine), was built in Trier in 310 AD. Although it is now used as a church, the interior of the basilica has not changed very much, and the building in Trier is simply the best-preserved ancient basilica in the world. The many windows – part of the painted decoration survives – add to the feeling of spaciousness. The roof is not authentic, but resembles the ancient original.

The long, high-ceiling brick structure was the throne hall of the Roman emperor until the destruction of the city by Germanic tribes. The invaders built a settlement inside the roofless ruin. In the 12th century, the apse was converted into a tower to accommodate the Archbishop of Trier.

In the 17th century, the Aula Palatina was integrated into the newly-built imperial palace (Residenz) and its eastern wall was partly demolished (see the picture below).  During Napoleonic and Prussian times, the hall served as army barracks. The Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm IV eventually ordered its reconstruction, and it was restored again after bomb damage in 1944.

Since 1856, the Roman basilica has served as the Protestant Church of St. Savior.

The Electors lmperial Palace of Trier
In 1615, Elector Lothar von Metternich had the present north and east wings built; the west and south wings were constructed under Philipp Christoph von Soetern. The structure was finally finished by Carl Caspar von der Leyen.
The especially beautiful south wing, which can be admired from the Palace Garden, was commissioned by Archbishop Johann Philipp von Walderdorff in1756 and designed by Johannes Seiz. The sculptures were crafted by Ferdinand Tietz. The magnificent rococo staircase in the south wing, also a creation by the artists Seiz and Tietz, is particularly worth seeing. On occasion, concerts are performed in the Grand Chamber of the rococo wing or summer open-air concerts in the courtyard. The palace is used by the regional administration and not open to the public on a regular basis.

Click here to see a panoramic view of the Palace of Trier:

What antithesis! The Basilica of Constantine and the pink Rococo Elector’s Palace. 

The Imperial Palace Gardens

A crown jewel of garden architecture lies in the heart of the city: the Palace Garden. Baroque garden artistry is framed by exquisite examples from art and history: an enchanting park in which one can experience both the past in stone and the present in blossoms. A section of the garden corresponds to the style based on ancient Greco-Roman gardens. Along with classical literature and the fine arts, garden artistry crossed the Alps in the 16th century and also found a new home in Germany. The singularity of Italian gardening artistry is the stark stylistic development and the wealth of artistic thought contained within which makes each new creation an individual work of art. At first glance, a spiralling fountain forms the moving image of a somewhat outsized tulip blossom. The beech hedges were developed according to a historical design. Their light-and-shadow effect gives structure to the open space as well as enclosing the baroque section of the garden. The many arches fashion a friendly invitation to freely enter the small paradise of flowers.



Brent and Anne

That is Anne on the right in the background.

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