Basilica of Constantine

Trier, Germany

The Basilica of Constantine (Konstantinbasilika or Aula Palatina) is a Roman palace basilica that was built by the emperor Constantine (AD 306–337) at the beginning of the 4th century.

Today it is used as a church and owned by a congregation within the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland. The basilica contains the largest extant hall from antiquity with a length of 67 m, a width of 26.05 m and a height of 33 m. 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 Basilica was built around AD 310 as a part of the palace complex. Originally it was not a free standing building, but had other smaller buildings (such as a forehall, a vestibule and some service buildings) attached to it. The Aula Palatina was equipped with a floor and wall heating system (hypocaust).

During the Middle Ages, it was used as the residence for the bishop of Trier. For that, the apse was redesigned into living quarters and pinnacles were added to the top of its walls. In the 17th century, the archbishop Lothar von Metternich constructed his palace just next to the Aula Palatina and incorporating it into his palace some major redesign was done. Later in the 19th century, Frederick William IV of Prussia ordered the building to be restored to its original Roman state, which was done under the supervision of the military architect Carl Schnitzler.

In 1856, the Aula Palatina became a Protestant church. In 1944, the building burned due to an air raid of the allied forces during World War II. When it was repaired after the war, the historical inner decorations from the 19th century were not reconstructed, so that the brick walls are visible from the inside as well.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

Founded: 310 AD
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Germanic Tribes (Germany)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

jeNeen Clipp (2 years ago)
You will feel small.
D'Ann Fowler (3 years ago)
Beautiful open church with a great history. It has been renovated several times through history for different uses, but still has it's old charm and the organ pipes are massive.
Hellmutti Orso-Maggiore (3 years ago)
One of the oldest buildings of Trier. Originally an audience hall of Caesar Constantine the Great, built in the 4th century a.d. it has become the only protestant church of Trier.
Michael Dawson (3 years ago)
We went with friends visiting from the USA on the weekend. One of the staff members working there was very rude. He wished for one member of our party to remove his baseball cap. First he tried to talk with him in German which of course he did not understand. Then he realized that he only understand English, and he became very rude with him. Courtesy goes a long way. This staff member missed the mark. We will never go there again.
Frank Wils (3 years ago)
Strangely connected to the palace, this must be the most photographed site in Trier. The basilica is said to be the former throneroom of the Roman king and queen Constantine and Helena. Whether this is true or not, it is a fine example of Roman architecture. Mostly rebuild in the 19the century. Still, it takes you back in time.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Heraclea Lyncestis

Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.

Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.

The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.

Late Antiquity and Byzantine periods

In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.

The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.

The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.