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.