Last summer Family Kiwidutch spent a family holiday at the Landal Wirfttal holiday park in Germany. One day we after doing some local sightseeing we stopped in the nearby town of Stadtkyll for lunch and chose a restaurant called “La Grappa“. As usual we arrived later for lunch so there were few other patrons inside but permission to take photographs was granted and I got busy whilst we waited for our food to arrive.
September 27, 2016
September 26, 2016
The area around Stadtkyll makes for excellent touring and sightseeing. We made many trips around the area, enjoying the open space and less built up nature of this part of Germany. Life in the Netherlands has many bonuses but seemingly endless vistas of open countryside is not to be counted amongst them. For us at least, this is completely refreshing…
September 25, 2016
After leaving the city of Trier, Germany, Family Kiwidutch last summer returned to our holiday accommodation base at the Landal Wirfttal holiday park near Stadtkyll.
Like many of our day trips out, we arrived back too late to contemplate cooking ourselves, so opted for dinner in the on-site restaurant.
This post is a compilation of a series of meals… we basically worked our way through a decent part of their menu.
Little Mr changed his order by varying the amount of grated cheese he heaped on top of his plain boiled pasta, or by changing the flavour of his ice-cream from vanilla to strawberry (shock horror that he might one day stray further off the culinary pieste!).
The cooking isn’t the best of all of the various Landal parks we have been in, in fact my expectations were higher because we have come to expect better food in Germany than the Netherlands. That said, it was kid friendly and edible… true bonus points after busy days out and arriving back tired.
September 24, 2016
One of the buildings in Trier’s main shopping street that makes visitors stop and stare is a white, orange and brown painted building that at first glance thought might be art deco, but quickly realised is far too old for that and has it’s windows in strange places.
There is a decorative shield on the wall, but also an information plaque on the wall which Himself translated for me as much as he could.
It reads: ” The House of Three Kings“, “The original house ” Zum Säulchen” further developed into a residential tower with a façade that around 1230 changed from Roman style to Gothic.
The painting style is late “staufisch” dynasty style.
The main entrance was reached by stairs. Previous residents included that of an alderman family from Trier.
Renovated / restored 1938 and 1973. ”
There were a few words that he didn’t know and which we also couldn’t find in our German dictionaries, but we got the general idea.
I was however interested in tying to find out more so looked on line and found more information (website links at the bottom of this post) which revealed this to be called this the “House of the Three Magi” (Dreikoenigenhaus).
There I learned: “… built when the medieval wall around Trier was not yet finished, the main entrance was the door on the first floor that was reached by ladder or retractable stairs, a necessary defensive feature”.
Now the penny drops because we saw a similar but older residential tower, the “Frankenturm” when we arrived here.
‘The doors at street level are a modern addition, the building now houses a café so patrons have some limited access but the rest of the building is not open to the public.”
It’s an interesting building that keeps it’s photogenic qualities along with much of it’s history and it also goes to prove that when some tradesman all those centuries ago told the client that his work could be relied upon to be ” built to last”, he certainly meant it!
September 23, 2016
Last summer I discovered Germany’s oldest city and the “Black Gate” that is one of it’s most imposing landmarks: The Porta Nigra.
Since I had a lot to learn about this amazing structure I started reding up on the internet. Wikipedia (link at the bottom of this page) tells us:
“In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier’s numerous churches and monasteries.
On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height.
Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church.
In another version, they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate.
Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. It also has crowning cornice and parapet on its top.
The gate is today closed to cars, but stands right next to one of the main streets of Trier. In addition to the general pollution, the exhaust fumes of the passing cars have been damaging the stones for decades. Generally, however, the Porta Nigra is still in remarkable condition.
The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors. In summer, guided tours are also offered by an actor dressed up as and portraying a centurion (a Roman army officer) in full armour.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings.”
Whilst photographing the inside section of the gate, I saw various groups of people on the upper floors but there were too many stairs for me to be able to join them.
Content with the views from below I take as many photographs as I can, trying to capture it’s many angles and complex secrets of a structure built in Roman times, without machinery or modern tools or labour saving conveniences.
The towers are high and strong, the walls deeply pitted due to the ravages of both times of war and times of peace. No make-up job is ever going to cover up the signs of wear, but in the end it’s pits and scars are testament of a long life and countless events having taken place below and around it’s walls. Porta Nigra has stood for more than a thousand years… here’s to its’ next thousand.
September 22, 2016
The back side of the Porta Nigra, or “Black Gate” in Trier, Germany, is no less impressive than the front. Let’s take a look…
September 21, 2016
Trier’s Porta Nigra is an imposing structure. the walls are solid and thick to support it but you don’t realise just how thick until you take a closer look at the arches of the gate. The stone blocks are larger than they first appear and the height and width of the arches are also deceptive, everything seems gigantic when viewed up close. This beautiful gate has seen century upon century of people, turmoil, war, peace, regimes, fashions and people of all different ages and professions pass under it’s arches.
September 20, 2016
The biggest both figurative and literal surprise for me during our visit to Trier, Germany was The Porta Nigra.
I knew nothing about it before I saw it so when this imposing structure came into view it took my breath away.
The front façade is stunning and although it was apparently even far larger in it’s heyday, what is left is still an architectural marvel. Wikipedia (link at the bottom of this post) tells me:
“Porta Nigra” (Latin for black gate) is a large Roman city gate in Trier, Germany.
Today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps, it is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta. The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side.
For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier. It serves as an entrance to town.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city.
The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle.
The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse.
Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.” After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him.
Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church.
A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate (the much smaller Simeon Gate) was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.”
September 19, 2016
Whilst visiting Trier last summer we came across a fountain that was also a work of art in it’s own right.
It’s as much a statue as it is a fountain.
There is a central figure on top of the main column, clearly meant to be Saint Peter, because there is a large key hanging by his side.
There is then a row of cherubs lining the top tier, then the fountain beneath with the faces of putti spouting the water.
Beneath that there are female figures in various poses, and small lions that spout the second tier of water out of their mouths.
These lions are so small and dare I say it, slightly “un-lion-like” that I first mistook them for dogs, but once I figured out that they had manes, and took a second look I decided that they looked more like lions the more I looked.
There are various small busts and fruit decorations below the lions and also around the base of the fountain and a perfusion of gold leaf highlights means that all of the decoration sparkles in the sunlight.
The fountain itself is larger than you first think, and the main focal points of it stand mostly above head-height, plus there is the added obstacle of the ironwork fence around it so getting photographs is harder than it first looks.
I had an additional camera chip that had many more photographs of the cherubs and all of the details but somehow managed to mislay it, so these are the photographs from the end of another chip that I managed not to loose.
I am sure that many of the aspects of this fountain have been made with a specific meaning behind them, but I could not find any further information, and people were sitting on the seats at various points around the base so it wasn’t possible to see if there was a name or information plaque.
It’s a very unusual juxtaposition of figures, I’m trying to work out how the ladies at the bottom for in with the Saint (?) at the top, and where the cherubs fit into this already busy picture.
Still, this is a very distinctive and beautiful piece of sculpture and it definitely brightened my day to make it’s acquaintance.
September 18, 2016
When visiting Trier in Germany last summer the surroundings were completely captivating for anyone who adores architectural detail. Beautiful balconies, stone carvings and wrought iron work were just a few of the delights on show in this beautiful city, this is just scratching the surface of what is here too. In a continuation of yesterday’s post, the story of this ancient city is written as much in it’s bricks and stones as in it’s history books…