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Trier, one of Germany’s oldest cities and the only imperial Roman residence north of the Alps, is home to seven Roman UNESCO World Heritage sites, a monumental medieval double-church complex, and exquisite archaeological museums and treasuries. Trier’s imperial status is reflected in its mighty Roman architecture; vast, intricate mosaic floors; large-scale sculpted monuments and delicate glassware of the finest quality. At the end of the 5th century, nothing was left of the once pulsating urban life of Trier and its 50,000 inhabitants. But the seed of Christianity sown in its glory days had put down strong roots and the bishops of Trier, soon to be archbishops, filled the power vacuum and emerged as secular rulers. The “Holy City” of Trier was soon filled with churches, convents and collegiate foundations and the Archbishop of Trier became one of the seven prince-electors who exerted great political influence. The sturdy Romanesque cathedral and the Church of Our Lady, an imitation of French Gothic style, bear witness to this period. Likewise, the imperial abbey of St Maximin evolved as an institution resonant with political and cultural impact. Its political status ensured that Trier became an artistic treasure-chest enshrining intriguing illuminated manuscripts, resplendent goldsmiths’ work, enamels and acclaimed sculpture, in wood and stone. The city is imbedded in the panoramic Moselle valley with scenery that changes from steep slopes to soft terraces encircled by the meandering river. Discover small, wine-growing villages with romantic timbered houses, a maze of small cobblestone alleys and excellent Moselle Rießlings.
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A late morning train from London St. Pancras to Luxembourg via Brussels. An introductory lecture in the hotel will be followed by dinner in a local restaurant and wine tavern, where we will taste Moselle wine.
A day on foot in Trier, dedicated to the clerical heart of Trier, the cathedral of St Peter and the church of Our Lady. A highlight of the tour is the late Roman burial ground beneath the former abbey church of St Maximin with its astonishing abundance of rich Roman sarcophagi (by special arrangement, but please be prepared for very uneven surfaces in the underground site). These sites will be complemented by a visit to the cathedral museum displaying Constantinian and Carolingian wall paintings, medieval sculpture and architectural models of Trier’s imposing church complex.
The morning is dedicated to the Museum am Dom displaying finds from Roman to medieval Trier including mosaics and fresco painting. Afterwards the coach takes us to delightful Bernkastel-Kues, home to some of the most renown Moselle wineries. After lunch in a traditional restaurant, stroll through town to savour the picturesque views of Bernkastel and explore the hometown of one of the most eminent medieval philosophers, Cardinal Nikolaus von Kues. Visit the Cusanus Library, before visiting a prestigious Bernkastel wine-grower to taste some renowned wines.
A second day in Trier starts with a drive to the outskirts of the city to visit the Abbey of St Matthias with the only Apostle’s tomb north of the Alps. We have private admittance (subject to confirmation) to the inner sanctum of this still-working abbey to visit the beautiful cloister, marvel at a Byzantine reliquary of the Holy Cross and descend into a mausoleum of a Roman noblewoman. Return to central Trier to visit the Rheinisches Landesmuseum containing a collection of Roman artefacts unique in scale, diversity, and quality. Imposing burial monuments, a multitude of coloured mosaic floors and spectacular glassware illustrate Roman life and activity on the Moselle. The collection also contains outstanding medieval sculpture and architectural elements from Trier churches and abbeys. Another highlight of this tour is the recently reopened Treasury of the Trier City Research Library. It holds rare books of the greatest value and international status including the Carolingian “Ada Evangeliary”, the Ottonian “Codex Egberti” and an illuminated copy of Gutenberg’s Bible. The so-called Basilica built as a magnificent imperial throne room by Constantine the Great is well preserved and remains an impressive site.
Excursion to the city of Luxembourg. Enclosed by a densely forested mountain landscape Luxembourg offers a rich cultural-historical heritage. The city of Luxembourg rose from a Roman foundation whose artistic wealth is displayed at the Musée national d’histoire et d’art. The remains of the Carolingian abbey of Echternach, once an eminent religious and cultural centre, are housed in this museum. By 1307, the royal House of Luxembourg was propelled onto the stage of imperial politics when its kings became Holy Roman Emperors and produced one of the most influential of all Trier archbishops, Baldwin of Trier. In the afternoon we return to London via Brussels.