Saturday, January 28, 2017

2014 Germany Trip - Aula Palatina/Basilica of Constantine (Konstantinbasilika) @ Trier (UNESCO World Heritage)

Location: Trier, Germany

Itinerary and full experience of my visit to Germany can be accessed through the link below:

<- previous: Imperial Baths (UNESCO World Heritage)

Most of the UNESCO heritage site of Roman architecture in Trier were in ruins, with Aula Palatina the sole exception. The iconic building of red brick is also called Basilica of Constantine as it was built by Emperor Constantine I as his palace and throne room. Its purpose transformed into a religious one after the fall of the Roman Empire, first used by the Bishop of Trier as his residence during the Middle Ages, and then currently used by Church of The Redeemer.

Aula Palatina as viewed from Konstantinplatz

It was long and it had a high ceiling, but I did not notice one other important architectural detail until I read it online. The architects wanted to impress the emperor through the sheer size of the basilica so they added an optical illusion into the building - the windows and niches in the apse became progressively smaller towards the middle so that the illusion of length was further enhanced. Engineering was not sacrificed for the sake of aesthetics though and Aula Palatina remained the largest single room standing structure from Roman Era.

Aula Palatina had seen some interesting times and even more interesting changes done upon it although not all encounters were good ones. It was originally embellished with colorful marble inlays, golden mosaics and statues, and its interior was regulated with hollow floor heating system. All these were destroyed when the Germanic Franks invaded.

Various additions and modifications were made by various occupants, including a beautiful but contrasting Rococo Electoral Palace to its side, and part of the original structure was demolished. Prussian King Frederick William IV eventually ordered its restoration to its Roman state, only to be damaged by air raid during World War II. Restoration efforts decided not to restore the historical interior decorations and the brick walls are now visible when visitors enter the basilica.

Aula Palatina and surrounding

The basilica's sheer size can only be appreciated up close

The basilica was built with an optical illusion where the windows get slightly smaller towards the middle to enhance the impression of length.

The red bricks forming the structure

I did not found out what this building was but it looked like it was part of the basilica (or at least was once).

This side is part of the same wing as Electoral Palace that was added to the basilica.


Sonnenbrunnen - the sun dial fountain

Looked like a cigarette doesn't it?

The time was divided up into every 2 hours, and the shadow was showing the time to be some time past 10 in the morning.

Pigeon as time marker

Another nice sculpture nearby, one of a happy family. 

I wonder where this family was going to?

The basilica was such a huge and distinguished structure that I was drawn to it before I knew what it was. Equally interesting was a nearby sun dial type of fountain that stuck out like a cigarette. Unfortunately for me, the basilica was closed for restoration works during my visit so I could only view its exterior.

<- previous: Imperial Baths (UNESCO World Heritage)

Environment:         A huge Roman basilica
Suitable for:            History buffs, architecture admirers
Visit worthiness:       9/10
Historical value:        5.0/5.0 
Architectural value:  4.0/5.0
Photographic value: 4.0/5.0
Landmark value:       5.0/5.0

Entrance Fee:                  free
Opening Hours:             

November, January - March:
Monday closed
(Tue - Sat)        10 a.m. - 12 p.m.; 2 - 4 p.m.
(Sun/Holiday) 1 - 3 p.m.

(Mon- Sat)        10 a.m. - 12 p.m.; 2 - 4 p.m.
(Sun/Holiday) 1 - 3 p.m.

April - October:
Monday - Saturday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Sunday / Holiday 1 - 6 p.m.

Best Moment to Visit: morning when the sun illuminates the building
Length of Visit:              1 hour

Website:          and (German)

Contact:                    +49 651 42570
E-mail:                      -
Address:                   Protestant church "Zum Erloeser", Weberbach / Konstantinplatz, 54290 Trier, Germany

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