Trier / Trèves -- Aachen / Aix-la-Chapelle -- Maastricht
If you came here for Reims, you must now go here.
If you came here for Mainz (Mayence), you must instead go HERE, svp.

Maastricht is towards the bottom of this page.


Trier / Trèves

Trier (Trèves): The term tucked away seems to describe Trier (Augusta Treverorum) magnificently. Located in a deep Mosel River valley at the far western corner of Germany, Trier is well away from the arteries of Germany's modern commerce. But that was not always the case. Trier is Germany's oldest city, once one of the seats of the old Roman Empire, the site of the Capital of Constantine. The baths:; A gate; The Constantine Basilika, Kurfürstlicher Palast:; The arena:

Trier was the birthplace of Saint Ambrose, who converted and baptized St. Augustine. He was born into the Roman governing class (348AD). His learning gained for him the rare title -- Doctor of the Church.

A report went to Valentinian, whose consent was necessary if an imperial officer was to be made a bishop. Ambrose also wrote, asking to be excused, but Valentinian replied that it gave him the greatest pleasure to have chosen a prefect fit for the episcopal office, and sent orders to the vicar of the province to hold a formal election. Meanwhile, Ambrose was hiding in the house of a senator, who, on hearing the imperial decision, gave Ambrose up. He was baptized, and a week later, on December 7, 374AD, was consecrated. The new bishop now gave his possessions to the poor and his lands to the Church, reserving only a small income for the use of his sister ....

When Augustine of Hippo lived at Milan, he became friends with the new bishop. Augustine went often to hear Ambrose preach, and at last was baptized by him. Ambrose is famous for having said The emperor is in the Church, not over it. Emperor Theodosius died in Ambrose's arms, after the two had reconciled over grievances. On Good Friday, 397, Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, partook of the Last Sacrament, dying soon after. He was then about fifty-seven years of age, having been bishop for twenty-two years. His remains now rest under the high altar of his basilica, where they were placed in 835AD. Celebration of his Feast Day is December 7th, the same day of the year that Irish monk Columba, missionary to Scotland and founder of Iona, is born in Donegal (521AD).

Shine on our senses with thy light,
And from our minds put sleep to flight.
Let us our first songs raise to thee,
And all our hymns be praise to thee.

Though ranking with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin "doctors", he is most naturally compared with Hilary, whom he surpasses in administrative excellence as much as he falls below him in theological ability. Even here, however, his achievements are of no mean order, especially when we remember his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects. In matters of exegesis he is, like Hilary, an Alexandrian; his chief productions are homiletic commentaries on the early Old Testament narratives ....

Bitburg is about 10 miles (16km) north-northwest of Trier The city’s name derives from its Celtic function as a place of worship for the Alaisiagæ or Beda (und Boudihillia/Fimmilena) -- she an entity related to burial. Deo Marti Thingso et dualbus Alaesiagis Bede et Fimmileve. Some have suggested possibly the same as Morgan le Fay of the Arthur legacy or the goddess Modron. Never-the-less, about 2000 years ago Beda was a rest stop for traffic north from Lyon, passing through Metz and Trier, going to Cologne. The first mentioned name was Vicus Beda. Emperor Constantine I expanded the small settlement to a road-oriented castrum (330AD), the central part of which still forms the city-centre today. Bitburg documented after the end of the Roman Empire around 715 as castrum bedense. It subsequently became part of the Franconian Kingdom. By the middle of the tenth century the city control came under the County of Luxembourg (later the Duchy). It was tied to the fortunes of the Duchy, until annexed by Prussia. Interestingly the name Erich Poppe Beda, a monk of Jarrow, is one of the most famous persons in the Anglo-saxon and Christian history of England. This Venerable Bede lived in Northumbria.

The Franks occupied Trier after the Roman administration ended in 459AD. In 870, it became part of Eastern Francia, which developed into the Holy Roman Empire. Relics of Saint Matthias brought to the city initiated widespread pilgrimages. The bishops of the city grew increasingly powerful, and the Archbishopric of Trier was recognized as an electorate of the empire, one of the most powerful states of Germany. In the 17th century, the Archbishops and Prince-Electors of Trier relocated their residences to Philippsburg Castle in Ehrenbreitstein, near Koblenz. Relocation was probably a smart move, although Trier became a backwater. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Trier was a prize keenly sought by France, who invaded during the Thirty Years' War, the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the Spanish Succession and the War of the Polish Succession (as if they really needed an excuse). France finally succeeded in claiming Trier (1794) during the French Revolutionary Wars (Département des Forêts). After the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, Trier passed to the Kingdom of Prussia (Congress of Vienna). It became a permanent part of the German Empire in 1871.

The Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), which is one of the most important early Gothic cathedrals in Germany, yet it falls into the architectural tradition of most French Gothic cathedrals. St. Matthias Abbey (Abtei St. Matthias), is still-in-use. Its medieval-era church has the remains of the only apostle buried north of the Alps. St. Gangolf Church was the city's market-oriented structure that rivaled the Archbishop's Trier Cathedral. The church of St. Paulin is one of the most important Baroque-style churches in Rhineland-Palatinate. The Cathedral of Trier (Dom St. Peter), a Roman Catholic church today, has Roman roots and is home to the Holy Tunic (cf. The Robe), this garment with a recorded history back to the 12th century, but perhaps older. All this in a city populated by a series of Roman structures; Porta Nigra, Roman Baths, Constantine's throne hall that is now a Protestant Church, ampitheatre, the 2nd century AD Roman bridge (Römerbrücke) across the Moselle River (still in use) -- So, not unexpectedly every summer, Trier hosts Germany's biggest Roman festival, Brot und Spiele, complete with food and games.

Aachen / Aix-la-Chapelle

Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle): A place put on the map by Charles the Great King of the Franks (768AD -- Charlemagne (Karl der Große)), first head of the Holy Roman Empire (Christmas 800), Aix-la-Chapelle is called Aachen in Germany, of which it is a part today. The Aachen Cathedral, frequently referred to as the "Imperial Cathedral" (Kaiserdom), was the site of Charlemagne's massive homestead, because of its proximity to heated water. The Royal Church of St. Mary at Aachen sits barely 120 miles north and west of Reims. It became the site of coronations for German royal families (Reims has been a sister-city since January 28, 1967). More is Here, including pictures about the Dom.

Since Roman times, the hot springs at Aachen have been channeled into baths, but up to the early mediæval period, the site had only a small population. The place is mentioned as home for a king (Pippin the Younger) for the first time, not long before Charlemagne became ruler of the Franks. Until the end of the 8th Century it was still generally unoccupied. Not until Charlemagne began spending most winters between 792 and his death in 814 in Aachen, did it become the focal point of his court and the political center of the empire. After his death, Charlemagne was buried in the church which he had built; his original tomb has been lost, while his alleged remains are preserved in the shrine where he was reburied after being declared a Saint (never very widely acknowledged outside the bishopric of Liège where he may still be venerated "by tradition").

There is some documentary proof that the Romans named the hot sulphur-springs Aquis-Granum. Granus has lately been identified as the name of a Celtic deity. In French-speaking areas of the Empire, the word aquas transformed into aix. While Charlemagne's palace no longer exists, the church built by him still remains the main attraction of the city. In addition to holding the the body of its founder, it was the burial place for his successor Otto III. The Cathedral in Aachen has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Interestingly, some say King Æthelwulf of Wessex, father of Alfred the Great, a King of England, entered this world at Aix-la-Chapelle, but his supposed birth date is a dozen years too early for much activity at that site. Perhaps, he was just schooled at Aachen by Alcuin.

Over the next 500 years, most kings of Germany destined to reign over the Holy Roman Empire were crowned "King of the Germans" in Aachen. The last king to be crowned here was Ferdinand I in 1531. From the early 16th century, Aachen declined in importance. In 1656, a great fire devastated Aachen. After then its fate was closely tied to the spas and the fortunes of others in war.

In 1372, Aachen became the first coin-minting place in the world to regularly place an Anno Domini date on a general circulation coin, a groschen. It is written MCCCLXXII (1372). The airport that serves Aachen, Maastricht-Aachen Airport, is located about 30 km away within Dutch territory, the city's south-western border touches Belgium. Along with the usual rail connections, the city is served by ICE from Germany and fast-trains from the west, so it remains well connected.

Blick über die Maas auf die Altstadt Nearby, Maastricht sits in the southern part of the Dutch province of Limburg, of which it is the capital. The city is situated on both sides of the Meuse river (Dutch: Maas) in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, near the Belgian and German borders. The city's name is derived from Trajectum ad Mosam or Mosæ Trajectum, meaning "Mosa-crossing". This refers to a bridge over the Meuse river built by the Roman Legions during the reign of Augustus Cæsar. Whether or not one considers Maastricht to be the oldest city of the Netherlands (some think Nijmegen is the oldest mainly because it was the first settlement in the Netherlands to receive Roman city rights), Maastricht, which never received Roman city rights, was a settlement from a considerably older time. Nijmegen has a population gap in its history, whereas Maastricht has had a continuous occupation.

Saint Servatius, a determined prosecutor of Arianism, was the first bishop of the Netherlands. According to a legend related by Gregory of Tours, the translation of the bishop from Tongeren to Maastricht occurred when the Huns threatened Tongeren, one Aravatius (identified by some scholars as Saint Servatius) went on pilgrimage to Rome. Keeping vigil at Saint Peter's tomb, he had a vision in which Peter forecast the destruction of the unbelieving and sinful Tongeren and ordered the move of the episcopal see to Maastricht, which vision he obeyed. He died in 384 at Maastricht. His tomb, in the crypt at the Basilica of Saint Servatius (Sint-Servaas Basiliek - a Romanesque-style structure), is a place of long-standing pilgrimage: Pope John Paul II visited it in the mid-80's. The gilted shrine contains some of the Saint's relics. It is carried around the town every seven years. The Sint is the town's patron.

The city remained an early Christian bishopric until it lost this position to nearby Liège in the 8th century. Die Liebfrauenbasilika (Basiliek van Onze-Lieve-Vrouw-Tenhemelopneming) is the original Bishop church. It was built on the site of a Roman sanctuary for Fortuna, Juno and Jupiter and must originally have been a small chapel. In today's adjacent Hotel Derlon, part of the excavated Roman remains of several temples and a road dating back to the 1st century B.C. have been found and they extend under the church. Some type of substantial churchucture has sat here since the 5th century. The foundation and walls of the western portion of the current church were built with stones from the Roman forts over 1000 years ago. Sint-Janskerk is a sandstone Gothic-style house of worship dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. It has a distinctive red tower and sits across the street from the Servatius Basilica. It became a Protestant church when the Spanish were driven out in 1632.

From 1632 onward the town has been within a Dutch State (except when in French hands -- département of Meuse-Inférieure). The important strategic location of Maastricht in the Dutch Republic resulted in an impressive array of fortifications around the city. After the Napoleonic era, Maastricht became a part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815) and the capital of the newly formed Province of Limburg. When the southern provinces sought independence from the North to form Belgium in 1830, the garrison in Maastricht remained loyal to the Dutch king, although the countryside fell to Belgium. Because of the resulting eccentric borders and its location, Maastricht often remained more focused on Belgium and Germany than on the rest of the Netherlands. Today it still has strong economic connections with Liège and Aachen. The city can be reached from Brussels and Cologne in approximately 1 hour and from Amsterdam in about 2.5 hours. On September 14, 1944, Maastricht was the first Dutch city to be liberated by Allied forces, on their way to Germany. AND don't miss Religious legends in Maastricht with many fine pictures and great English explanations.

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