Karlsborg Fortress is one of northern Europe's largest buildings and consists primarily of limestone from Omberg. Construction was begun in 1819 on 100 hectares of land. The fortress was to house a garrison of 6,000 enlisted men and an additional 8000 to 10 000 people. The walls were mostly complete in 1830, and after comprehensive visits to other fortresses in Europe, fortress architect Johan av Klen presented plans similar in style to the Winiary fortress in Posen (present-day Poznan).
Karlsborg Fortress was built to realize the so-called central defense idea adopted by the Swedish military after the Finnish and Napoleonic Wars. The site was chose by Baltzar von Platen in connection with the construction of Göta kanal. The intent of the central defense idea was that the King, the Council, the Riksdag and central command functions would, in the event of an attack against the kingdom, pull back and ensconce themselves in this fortress in the middle of the country. Even the gold reserves of the central bank of Sweden were to be safeguarded in the fortress in times of trouble.
Due to its great expense and reduced funding, the fortress wasn't in operation until 1870, and wasn't fully completed until 1909. To compensate for the rapidly evolving technology of artillery during this time, Vaberget Fortress was built in the early 1900s five kilometers west of Karlsborg to provide additional protection to the main fortress.
The town of Karlsborg has sprung up next to the fortress. It was initially mostly living quarters for personnel employed at the fortress, but grew to a sizable community, in part due to Göta kanal which passes through the town.
Ever since the fortress lost its intended central defensive rôle in 1918 it has been used as a garrison for Göta signalregemente, S 2, and since 1984 Livregementets husarer, K 3, are also based there.
Karlsborg has been a Swedish listed building in Sweden (byggnadsminne) since 1935. The garrison church is especially worth visiting. The church is housed in the central building of the fortress, 'the last stand', on the second floor above the Fortress Museum. The church was once intended as an assembly hall for the Riksdag in times of troubles. A chandelier composed of bayonets instead of crystal prisms hangs from the ceiling.References:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.