Trier – Porta Nigra

[Since writing this I came back to take a look inside the structure]

Porta Nigra (meaning Black Gate) looks a little like a burnt out Second World War building, but is actually a Roman gate, and one of the largest in northern Europe. It was originally constructed in around the second century AD, although it fell into disuse when the Romans left.

The name of the gate comes from the blackness of the stone, although this wasn’t original, it’s through centuries of pollution and weathering to the structure. What the Romans originally called the gate is unfortunately lost to history, and for a long period there was no certainty of when it had originally been constructed. This puzzle was only solved when recent dendro-chronological dating found that it was constructed in around 170AD.

Although slightly hard to imagine now, the structure was turned into a church after it had fallen into a state of disrepair. A tower was added to the building and numerous extensions were added on, with the photo above showing where the nave once was. Napoleon suppressed the church in the first few years of the nineteenth century and it was at this stage that it was returned to its Roman appearance.

The original entrance to the gateway and visitors can go inside, and also go onto the upper levels if they enter the attached museum. Like everything else in Trier, I had to miss this as I didn’t have enough time. The structure looked fascinating though, with its so many different usages over the centuries.

A view of the gate from further down the main street, it certainly dominates the local street scene.