Saturday, October 31, 2015

Aachen Cathedral--Charlemange's Church

Aachen is a city in northwest Germany on the border with Belgium. It was the capital city of the Holy Roman Empire under Charlemagne. Charlemagne built a palace there with a chapel attached. The palace is gone but the chapel is still there; over the centuries it has been added to and is now known as Aachen Cathedral. The chapel was dedicated by Pope Leo III in 805 AD.

The architect of Charlemagne's church was a man named Odo of Metz. He was inspired by Byzantine architecture and modeled this church after a church in Ravenna and the Hagia Sophia and Little Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. This church is octagonal in design with an octagonal dome-cupola. There have been additions over the centuries of towers, a choir and additional chapels. Below is an exterior photo of the current cathedral. You can see the octagonal structure of the original palatine chapel in the center.

The photo below shows the entrance to Aachen Cathedral. The doors in the center at street level are knows as the Wolf's Doors. They were cast of bronze in Aachen in about 800 AD. The next two photos are closeups of these doors, including the Lion's Head handles. The doors weigh about 4 tons.

This is the main floor of the chapel looking towards the choir, which was a later addition.

The chandelier seen in the above photo and in the photo below was given to the cathedral by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and his wife, Beatrice, around 1165 AD. It still utilizes candles and is lit only on special occasions. It takes most of a day for a crew to put in new candles.

Charlemagne's throne is located in the gallery above the main floor. It is marble; some of the stones under the throne on the platform came from Jerusalem. It looks plenty uncomfortable but I guess if you covered it with furs, silks, pillows, etc. I suppose it would be okay. It is shown in the two photos below. Between 936 and 1531 AD 30 German kings and 12 German queens were crowned here using this throne.

On his death in 814 AD Charlemagne was buried in the chapel. In 1165 AD Frederick Barbarossa had Charlemagne's remains put in a gold box, which is on the gallery floor near the throne. Carlemagne was also canonized in 1165 AD. This box is shown below.

The photo below shows the bone box from the end. Frederick Barbarossa made a political statement with this end. Charlemagne is shown as the middle figure with Christ above him. There is a church official on either side of Charlemagne with their heads bowed.

The photo below is taken from the gallery near the throne and shows the main floor and the Frederick Barbarossa chandelier.

Below is the mosaic on the dome of the cupola, seen from the gallery near the throne.

We had a little friend with us who managed to get an Aachener Dom cookie, available only in Aachen. She managed to keep it away from the cow, and sat in a throne on the square.

When we returned to Saarbrucken Little Bit decided she could make a better throne than the one Charlemagne had. It is shown below.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Metlach, Gemany

Metlach is a small city of about 12,000 located on the Saar River in Saarland, Germany. It is about a one to two hour drive northwest of Saarbrucken and about 30 kilometers south of Trier. Metlach is just south of a hairpin bend in the Saar River. It is the home of several outlet stores, including Birkenstock. It is also the home of Villeroy and Bosch, a major manufacturer of porcelain products. It is a fun day or half day trip from Saarbrucken.

Below are two houses along the Saar in Metlach.

The photo below shows some shops and a gasthaus on the main street in Metlach.

The photo below shows an old tower like building from about 989 AD. It is modeled after Charlemagne's Palatine Chapel in Aachen and is the oldest religious building in Saarland.

These geese were out for a stroll in the park.

This next photo is from the Villeroy and Bosch museum.

Below are two photos from the Birkenstock outlet store. I think someone is getting a new pair of Birks.

This is the horseshoe bend of the Saar River.

Let's go for a walk.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

St Stephen's Cathedral, Metz, France

Metz, France is a city in eastern France on the Moselle river, about 60 miles due west of Saarbrucken, Germany. St Stephen's Cathedral, commonly known as Metz Cathedral is located there.

Metz Cathedral is made of local yellow Jaumont limestone. Its nave is one of the highest in the world, at 135.9 feet. It has the largest expanse of stained glass in the world, 69,920 square feet. The photo below is a view of the cathedral showing the south-east side.

The cathedral was begun in 1220 and not completed until 1520, with dedication in 1522. The photos below show some of the decorative sculptures on the exterior.

The photo below is of one of the portals. I believe Christ is on the center post.

The portal shown below is the portal through which you enter the cathedral. The center post has Mary holding the infant Christ.

This is what you see on entering the nave.

The side aisles are relatively low compared to the height of the nave, which allows the clerestory to be quite large and filled with stained glass windows, as shown below.

The stained glass dates from the 13th century through and including the 20th century. There is one remaining 13th century window which I do not have a photo of. The west rose window, shown below, is from the 14th century and done by a man named Herman Munster.

The two photos below are of the two transcept windows.

The window below is 20th century by Jacques Villon.

The next window is also 20th century by Marc Chagall.

I do not know who did the windows shown in the two photos below nor do I know their age.

The last three photos are along the Moselle just a couple of blocks from the cathedral.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Trier, Germany

Trier is a city of about 105,000 people located 50m miles northwest of Saarbrucken on the border with Luxembourg in the Moselle valley. It was founded by the Romans in about 16 BC. With the growth of the Roman Empire it became impossible to govern the Roman Empire from Rome; Trier became one of four Roman capitals. Trier was the capital for the Empire north of the Alps. At its height it had between 75,000 and 100,000 residents. The Roman Emperors Diocletian and Constantine both lived there.

The city was surrounded by a large wall with a gate on each of the four sides. There is one gate still standing, known as the Porta Nigra. This has survived partly because it was converted to a church and partly because Napoleon chose to preserve and restore it. The photo below shows the Porta Nigra from the street.

The photo below shows the openings in the gate closeup. There was a portcullis on each side which could be dropped trapping any bad guys in between. The guards could then rain rocks, etc on them.

Below is the main square.

The Cathedral of Trier is shown below. This was begun during the Roman Empire and added upon numerous times over the years, but never taken down. It is a real hodge-podge .

This is a shot of the Cathedral nave.

The two photos below show an ante room between the nave and the cloister walkway added to the cathedral.

The gate or arch shown below is over a side street off the main square.

This large building shown below is the Basilica of Constantine. It was originally built as part of Constantine's palace group and used by him as a throne room. Constantine was the first roman Emperor to become Christian and it became used as a church. Roman basilicas were large rectangular buildings used as meeting halls by the Romans. When Christianity was accepted as a religion by the Empire many of them were used as churches and the word basilica now refers to many Roman Catholic churches. It is now used by a protestant church that chooses to keep the interior plain.

The Imperial Baths were started by Constantine around 300 AD. The first photo is a wide view; the green field was used for athletics as part of the complex. The next four shots are of the tunnels and rooms below the surface where water was to be heated and transported and so forth. The last photo is of some of the above ground walls. The baths were never finished.

The next photos are of the Amphitheatre. This was built between 100 and 200 AD. It held approximately 20,000 spectators. Animals were kept in rooms along the lower edge and beneath the floor. Gladiators were also part of the show. Reminds me of the NFL--sometimes I don't think we've made much progress.

This young lady is waiting to present the flowers she has picked to the champion gladiator.