During our visit to Trier, we made some additional stops. Again, Trier is a great little city to visit and definitely worth a stop if you're in western Germany. It doesn't warrant much more than a day, but it's a day well spent for sure!
For part 1 of our visit to Trier, click here!
Trier Cathedral and Church of Our Lady
Now this was a new one to us: two churches physically connected, but acting a two separate buildings. The first one we visited was the Church of Our Lady. It is the oldest Gothic church (built in the 1200s on Roman foundations) in Germany and is built in the round. There are four portals surrounding the alter, which are then flanked by 8 niches. The effect, when viewed from above, looks like a 12 petal rose, a symbol for Mary, and also symbolic of the 12 apostles. Legend has it that the original Roman church (which was torn down in the 1200s so that the current church could be built), was built on the site of the house of St. Helena, the mother of Constantine. Excavations below the church have revealed a dwelling of some sort. Whether or not it belonged to St. Helena is still a mystery.
Outside the church, there is a GIANT, but broken, granite column. The legend is that the architect conned the devil into hauling them to the building site by telling him that he was building the biggest pub in the world. The devil agreed to help the architect. As he was hauling the last of the four columns, the devil saw that the bishop was getting ready to consecrate the new building. The devil got so angry that he threw the column to the ground where it broke and remains to this day.
The real story? During construction of the All Saints alter in the church, two fragments of the granite columns were found. They were moved outside, where they still lie. They were one of four granite columns that formed part of the first church to stand on the site. Unfortunately, the original church was destroyed in the early middle ages.
The second part of the complex is the cathedral of Trier. Construction of the current cathedral started in the 4th century and was the first Christian gather place north of the Alps. It was added on to over the years and its current form was completed over a thousand years later. It's a beautiful church inside with a stunning Romanesque alcove, a very interesting crypt, a reliquary, and some small chapels. Behind the main alter is a fairly large chapel, closed to the public, that holds the seamless robe worn by Jesus the day he was crucified. The robe was originally found by St. Helena in the 300s, along with the True Cross (the cross on which Jesus was crucified), but the history of the robe is only known for certain from the 1100s, when the altar which contains the robe was consecrated. Over the years, it has been displayed for pilgrims, but it is not displayed for everyday viewing.
In the back of the cathedral is the schatzkammer (treasure chamber), which contains some pretty fascinating items. Admission is cheap, only a couple of euros or so per person. There are a number of bibles with some of the most ornate covers I have ever seen. There are also rings from past bishops, various ornately decorated items used for church services, and relics from various saints. It also contains one of the nails from the crucifixion. I have to say, between this small schatzkammer, and the much larger one in Cologne, I can understand why people were upset with the church. While the masses were starving and struggling to survive, the church was spending money on frivolous, gold embellished chalices, plates, bibles, and jewelry. But today, those items are part of history and fascinating to look at.
Behind the two churches is a small courtyard surrounded on all sides by a covered walkway. In the center, there is a cemetery where, presumably, Church leaders, priests, and bishops are buried. That day, there was a small wedding taking pictures in the ancient, picturesque gardens. If we had gotten married over here, it would have been difficult to choose between the many stunning churches to get married in and the endless options for pictures. Glad we got married in Michigan's Upper Peninsula!
Hermit's Cell near Kastel
Our very last stop of the day took us outside of Trier about 30 minutes. At the site of a former Celtic settlement was a small church built into the cliff side. In the 1500s, it was a pilgrimmage site for those nearby who would come to see the carving of the Resurrection. During the 1600s, a hermit monk moved there and built a small chapel. In 1838, the chapel was transformed from a chapel into the burial place for blind King John of Bohemia.
One of the first views you come to is a outcrop above the chapel. From here, you can see the town below, the Saar river as it cuts gracefully through the countryside, and the chapel. From there, you climb down some steps to the actual chapel itself. You can go inside the chapel and on the other side see the carving in the cliff face and follow a path along a cliff. If you're feeling adventurous (and we weren't, we were pretty tired and worn out from the heat), you can climb down even more stairs to explore the caves. Had we had a picnic blanket of some sort, and more water, I could have stayed there for hours, just relaxing in the shade and taking in the scenery.
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So that was how we spent our day in Trier. If you're planning a trip to Germany and are looking for something to do that isn't overrun with tourists, this would make a perfect stop!
Oh, and no post is complete without a food shot! This was taken at the festival that was happening in Trier that weekend. I love German street food!