Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2014 Germany Trip - Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen) @ Trier (UNESCO World Heritage)

Location: Trier, Germany

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

<- previous: Evergreen Hostel (previously Hilles Hostel)

I was drawn to the Imperial Baths from afar by its gigantic see through arches, recognizable from afar as the ruins' distinguished feature, even though I was not aware that it was one of Trier's UNESCO heritage treasure. In fact there wasn't much left of the original bath, the arches and some supporting walls being the only structure still standing. The structures looked impressively tall and sturdy when I stood close to it, and I could only think: the Romans were really capable engineers and architects to be able to build something that can last so long.

The impressive ruins of Imperial Baths

Compared to Barbara Baths, which is also another UNESCO heritage listed site, the Imperial Baths had at least some structures standing tall to awe visitors. Visitors paying an entrance fee would mostly wander the underground sections, showing how the whole bath looked and worked when it was in its heyday.

In reality the Imperial Baths were an unfinished work. Its construction came about before 300 when emperor Constantius I Chlorus moved his residence to Trier. However the work ended in 316 before the complex was finished, and was left that way ever since. In the coming years, Trier was first besieged by usurper Magnentius, then sacked by Germanic tribes, and the baths no longer act as the luxury it was. Nevertheless the complex remained useful as barracks during the end of the Roman era, and then as castle in the Middle Ages.

The arches and some walls were the only standing structures left of the ruins

View of the standing ruins from roadside

The 2 story arches were the above ground sections, the baths itself extended underground as well.

It was difficult not to be impressed when standing up close

Architectural and structural engineering students should note down how the arches were formed in Roman times.

View of the Imperial baths from near the entrance

Apart from the arches, the other feature of the Imperial Baths which caught my attention the most was a colossal marble foot affixed to a pedestal outside the entrance of the baths. I thought that it was part of a statue biding Roman visitors welcome in the ancient era but I was wrong - it was part of a statue but not in Trier and the foot was a replica, albeit still made out of marble.

The original fragment was one of the largest surviving marble foot, which was part of a seated statue of Constantine the Great, from the Roman era, and this replica was made to promote the exhibition of Constantine in Trier in 2007. For some (fortunate) reason, the replica was left there. I could find no information online about this foot, which was weird since this was clearly a very photogenic foot.

A colossal foot - this was a marble replica of the remains of a seated Constantine the Great statue. This replica was placed here to promote a Constantine exhibition in Trier back in 2007 and had been left here. And yes, this was marble.

Modern or ancient? A modern entrance to an ancient ruins.

Imperial Baths' UNESCO WHS plaque

Barbara Baths, located near the Moselle river, was larger than Imperial Baths but the latter was more photogenic in my opinion, winning my attention with its standing arches although I did not get close to the former to check if there were other interesting visible features. Nevertheless I decided not to enter both areas as time was against me and I felt not as interested in viewing the underground tunnels of a bath. The impressive standing arches could be viewed and photographed from outside anyway.

Environment:         Preserved gigantic Roman ruins
Suitable for:            History buffs, ruin explorers
Visit worthiness:   8.5/10 (it is already quite nice from the outside)
Historical value:        5.0/5.0 
Architectural value:  4.0/5.0
Photographic value: 3.0/5.0
Landmark value:       5.0/5.0

Entrance Fee:                  €4 (adult); €2.50 (17 and below); refer here for more prices
Opening Hours:             (Apr - Sep)   daily 9.00 a.m. - 6.00 p.m.
                                               (Oct & Mar) daily 9.00 a.m. - 5.00 p.m.
                                               (Nov - Feb)  daily 9.00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.
Best Moment to Visit: morning when the crowd is less
Length of Visit:              1 hour (<1 hour if you decide to just wander outside)


Contact:                    -
E-mail:                      -
Address:                   Weberbach 41, 54290 Trier, Germany

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