September 20, 2009
We got off to a slow start this morning. Anna and I stayed up too late watching USC lose to Washington in college football and hoping to catch a bit of the BYU game…soo sad, glad we couldn’t watch it. Once we got moving we drove to Trier, a city on the Mosel (a tributary to the Rhine near Luxembourg) that had at one point actually been home to the Roman Emperor Constantine (yes, that Constantine that converted the empire to Christianity and all). I don’t think it was really a capitol for the empire though as there would have been more ruins left. What was left was impressive though—the black gate which was made without mortar and still stands several stories tall, Constantine’s palace/throne room which was converted into a church, and the ruins of gigantic baths. After seeing so many ancient seeming castles and such from the medieval period going back another thousand years in history was really astounding…and I’d never realized that Northern Europe was that important to the empire. We had lots of fun exploring the tunnels beneath the baths with Henry pretending to be the slaves that kept the water coming and warm. Despite all the meltdowns, whining, feeding stops, traveling with kids leads to fun things you wouldn’t otherwise do. (And to be fair to our kids, there weren’t as may meltdowns as you’d expect from jetlagged kids and the feeding stops just let you savor an area for a bit longer.)
(the black gate)
(The Dom. My favorite of all the cathedrals we saw this trip.)
(Inside the Dom. The Dom is famous because of a relic it has. Supposedly the Emperor Constantine’s wife, St. Helen, brought Christ’s robe back from Jerusalem sometime in 300 A.D. or so. The robe is kept here in the Dom. A beautiful alter holds it but it’s behind glass and I couldn’t get a good picture of it. The ceiling over the alter is like the white one in the earlier picture only the background is a salmon/pink color. Very pretty.)
(addition but onto the roman basilica- red brick structure behind the pink- Lizzy had a snack in this lovely garden. Henry played I spy and Simon Says with me while she ate.)
(the slaves in the tunnels)
(Leaving the tunnels- the slaves escaping toward freedom!)
Besides the Roman ruins the old-but-not-Roman-old city was charming with interesting French influenced architecture and a long pedestrian market square with several ice cream shops that had to be sampled if we were to come to any conclusion as to which was the best.
The cathedral was one of our favorites that we’ve ever been too (I think Anna said it was her favorite). Instead of a Prince or King, Trier was ruled by an Archbishop who was also one of the Electors (of the Holy Roman Emperor…aka German High King) which granted him considerable wealth and influence and the cathedral was largely a memorial to the Bishop Princes of the centuries. What made it different was the back was done in a beautiful black and white marble design and the remained in green and red marbles. It was also unusual in the range of access tourists were allowed—usually the choir and nave areas are off limits. But you could go all the way forward to where there was a shrine containing a holy relic that was claimed to be the one of Christ’s robes. I generally assume that all relics related to Christ or the original apostles are shams, but this one was brought back from Jerusalem around AD 320 by the Emperors wife so I give it a 1-3% chance of being real.
After Trier we drive a few miles to reach Luxembourg…unfortunately we had just filled up on gas, because the clever Luxembougois apparently realized that if their gas tax was only $3 a gallon instead of $4 all their border resident of their larger neighbors would buy their gas there and they’d end up with more tax revenue. Anyway, we stopped in Etternach, one of the recommended small medieval towns and enjoyed a walk along the river, some rain, feeding ducks, an Abbey, and some baked goods. We kept the day short and headed back through the Ardennes forest to the base.