Thursday, June 16, 2011

Roman Germans

Everyone knows that Germany looks just like Neuschwanstein, right? Riiiight. (Actually, Neuschwanstein was due to Ludwig II of Bavaria being just a little bit crazy about fairy tales, and building things to fit his fantasies.) Or Epcot. And of course, all Germans are supposed to be blond and blue-eyed and dress in traditional outfits while they cruise the Autobahn, that one and only magical street without speed limits, as they head from Berlin to Oktoberfest. Um...

The truth is, Germany has always been a place where people of different origins mix. Slavic tribes from the east left place names and darker hair, Celts from long ago still leave their mark in freckles of modern Germans, and today's Germans include a fair population of Turks, Italians, Russians, and Czechs. If you want to eat Turkish food, definitely go to Germany!

But this is a photo blog mostly, so today we're looking at one special group to spend significant time in Germany: the Romans. Yes, they had some significant presence here. In fact, in some towns like Trier (which vies with Cologne and another city to claim the oldest city in Germany title), it's illegal to dig around much in your yard. You might find Roman artifacts and then your property will have to be declared an archaeological monument, so it's best just to let sleeping Roman coins lie.

In Bonn, we have casts of Roman grave markers all set up on the Rheinau:

In Trier, we have the Porta Nigra:

Constantine ruled from one of these buildings, which is now a Lutheran church, ironically.

The Romans also had their own entertainment in Trier. An amphitheater they could fill with water and float boats in (not pictured), as well as a variety of baths (below).

I don't have my own photos of it, but you can also look up the Limes, a wall built by the Romans to defend themselves against the "barbaric" Germans. It runs through the Taunus mountains in Hessen. And if you go to Cologne, there is a museum showing all kinds of Roman things they've dug up accidentally.

The thing is, there is always more to a place than what you think.

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