Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Trier’

Ready-steady-go

One more week to go and we’re off on our first cycle tour of the season! For seven days you will get to enjoy unparalleled romantic river and valley views while whizzing along sophisticated cycle ways joining them all up. Along the Saar and Moselle we’ve got a great selection of World Heritage sites, lifestyle experiences and a bit of history lined up.

Cycling paradise

9054251_origNew Zealand cycling enthusiasts can look forward to Germany’s extensive and well-maintained cycle road network: usually separated lanes with smooth surfaces linking suburbs and small towns, even in most cities one can travel without a worry and enjoy the sights. Even though it does pay to keep an eye out for the traffic when you do have to join it, remember: it’s the other side! The Right side! Follow your guides and you will be fine.

Rheinradweg, Loreleyblick

Rheinradweg, Loreleyblick

But, on the note of cycle ways: at the end of last year the first 5 km section of a cycle-highway was opened in the Ruhr region. A densely populated industrial area, home to various old and new industries and universities, it is planning to use abandoned railway tracks to create a car-free network for cyclists to use. Ultimately it will cover around 100kms of the region and long-term connect to other networks being created throughout Germany like in Munich and Cologne for example.

moselle-cycling-holidaysAlready along the major tourist routes local councils have improved the cycle ways to facilitate greater use by tourists and locals alike. These will be our major means of discovering the hidden treasures of the Saar and Moselle valleys. Wishing our guests good weather and lots of fun for their trip!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Bernkastel-Kues

800px-Bernkastel_BW_1This particular area along the Moselle had been populated since the 3rd millennia BC, but the present day city was created when the two communities of Bernkastel and Kues were joined. Even though archaeological finds support the idea that it had been a Roman castellum, documentation is scarce. On the other hand you will find plenty of proof that you’re still in a major wine growing area. Amongst the buildings dating from Medieval times to the Renaissance you will find little cafes and restaurants offering locally produced food and wine. The market place will be the ideal spot to take it all in.

Berncasteler Doctor

Bernkastel_WeinbergAs you stroll around town you might come across the term Bernc(k)asteler Doctor, a wine you should try if you can, even if you’re not feeling ill. According to a legend in the 14th century the Prince Elector of Trier Boemund II became violently ill and none of his doctors could help him. Eventually he sent out a message that anyone who could would be rewarded. An old vintner came with an old barrel of wine and after a few weeks of ‘moderate’ consumption he recuperated. Thus the vintner was given the right from now on to label his wine as Berncasteler Doctor, giving it an elevated status from the rest of the wines of the region.

Bernkastel DoctorEven though the origin of the name is the stuff of legends, it is fact that King Edward VII drank it for ‘medicinal’ purposes! Another fact is, that the Riesling produced at this Einzellage (The smallest geographical unit in German wine law representing a single vineyard.) has been consistently esteemed to be of the highest quality; making the vineyard one of the most famous and most expensive wine growing location in the world. Mind you, that was all in the beginning of the 21st century, I would guess that in the meantime others have moved into that spot.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

Read Full Post »

Country Living – Roman Style

Today’s trip will take you to one of the larger country estates in the area around Trier built from the 2nd to the 4th century AD: the Villa Rustica. This is a general term for a countryside villa and usually was the residence of the landowner as well as the farm management centre. While the individual design depended on the vision of the owner and the architect, it usually contained certain components: the main living area for the landowner, living quarters for the workers, slaves and animals and the storage areas for the farms’ produce. Usually they had plumbed bathing facilities and under-floor heating! The wealth of the owner was apparent in the use of mosaics throughout the villa and the number of rooms it ultimately comprised.

‘Humble’ beginnings

1280px-Villa_Rustica_in_MehringInitially this villa was planned to cover a floor area of 28 by 23 meters with two corner Risalites joined by a columned hall. By the time it was finished – a couple of centuries later – it covered an area of 48 by 29 meters and had 34 rooms. A multi-coloured floor mosaic and a black marble wall panelling indicate the owner was of very high social standing and of considerable wealth. Careful restoration in the 19th and 20th century made it possible now to get a glimpse of what it was like living a well-to-do life then.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

Read Full Post »

Soaking it up Roman Style

asterixgladiator432As some of you might know from history lessons or Asterix and Obelix comics, the Romans LOVED to have a good soak. They not only spent their time in the baths getting cleaned up or plotting a revolt against the current head of state, but also conducted business meetings, participated in sports activities or got the full spa treatment ( manicure, pedicure, massage, hair removal: they’ve done it all). As a result they built baths wherever they went/invaded. And some places proved to become such thriving cities, that one bath was not enough to cater for the whole of the population. 1024px-Augusta_Treverorum_StadtplanAs in Trier, where over the course of a century three baths were built. The Imperial Baths – which are on the guided tour – were the last to be started at the end of the 3rd century AD and were intended to be the grandest of the time and for the general public to use. But, some scientist believe they were never finished (or only on such a small scale that they were only of limited use) due to changes in the political arena.

Imperial Baths

Trier_Kaiserthermen_BW_4All the baths show a sophisticated use of underfloor heating, water heating systems and the use of solar heating. A classic roman bath had a range of baths and steam rooms, that served very distinct purposes. The size of a bath complex determined how many rooms it had and this site has a good description of the basic set-up – tepidarium, caldarium and frigidarium – and other interesting details about Roman baths in general.

Around 375 AD the baths were re-purposed by Caesar Gratian into barracks. Some major buildings were demolished at the time and the rubble used to fill in other parts that hadn’t been finished or were of no use to them. Thus the restructuring began which meant that centuries later excavations for an underground parking lot uncovered the unknown ruins of the oldest and forgotten Forum Baths.

312px-Trier_Kaiserthermen_BW_2After the Romans left the region the baths suffered the same fate as many other structures from the time: they were dismantled and recycled in new buildings in the city. The guided tour will explain in detail not only how the structure and waterworks were designed, but also how the different parts were re-purposed by churches, schools and nobility. The family names of some of the nobility at the time reflect the parts of the old structure they had acquired: de Castello (obviously the Castle), de Palatio (the palace area) and de Horreo (lat. Horrea for granary/storehouse) for example.

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

 

Read Full Post »

Trier – Roman treasure chest

The next part of our trip will give you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with Roman history and architecture as we make our way towards Trier, one of the four cities claiming to be the oldest in Germany. Presumably it was founded in the late 4th century BC by Celts (Treuorum) and conquered by the Romans by 16 BC and ‘renamed’ Augusta Treverorum. Modern Trier might not necessarily come across as a thriving metropolis, but during Roman times it managed to maintain a high profile and during the 4th century was even one of the five biggest cities of the known world with a population ranging from 75,000 to 100,000.1200px-Trier_Porta_Nigra_BW_4

Our guided tour through town will give you a good idea about the rich history this town has been steeped in and you will see why you can call the whole city a UNESCO World Heritage site. One of the main sights will be the Porta Nigra, the black gate, guarding one entrance to the city.

Porta Nigra

Trier_Porta_Nigra_ModelOriginally designed to be part of a four tower system guarding the entrances to the city, this is the last remaining one and the largest remaining one in Europe north of the Alps. As the Roman influence waned, the gates were not needed as such and slowly dismantled to be used for other buildings. This ended when in 1030 the Greek monk Simeon had himself walled into one of the rooms to spend the rest of his life in prayer and meditation. Soon after his death and canonization in 1035 the monastery Simeonstift was built next to it and the ruin itself received a new lease of life by being converted into a church. Trier_model800It served this purpose until 1804 when Napoleon revoked the conversion and had it converted back to its original form. During peak season some of the guided tours involve a centurion, explaining in detail the construction and history of the gate!

Author: Petra Alsbach-Stevens

Read Full Post »