Golub-Dobrzyn Castle

Golub-Dobrzyñ, Poland

Golub-Dobrzyñ Castle was built by Teutonic Knights at the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries, later rebuilt and extended in the 15th century. Between 1616 and 1623 it was a residence of Anna of Finland; during this period a Renaissance attic was added. The castle was destroyed during the The Deluge. In the 19th century, it was neglected and a gale caused the collapse of its attic. After 1945 the castle was rebuilt and renovated.

The chapel is the only room in the castle with original medieval interior decoration not changed during the Renaissance reconstruction. Therefore there is still typical monumental Gothic architecture like high ogival window with traceries and rising up at the height of the second floor three-bay starlike vault. Walls of the chapel were beautifully decorated with polichromies, however, for our times there are only fragments of 16th-century paintings on the front wall.

Just next to the chapel there is a smaller room used as the Teutonic infirmary, or hospital room. Later princess Anna Vasa practiced phytotherapy here. The refectory is located on the first floor of the east wing, where the Teutonic knights once ate meals and were doing banquets. Entering this room unusual for a Gothic-style windows and ceiling entablature can be noticed. The shape of the window has changed when in the 17th century castle has been rebuilt in accordance with the spirit of the new era - the Renaissance. However Gothic cross vaults hadn"t been reconstructed then and had retained its original shape until 1842, when - because of the hurricane - the eastern attica collapsed destroying the ceilings from the top as down as to the basements. Currently in the refectory one can see an exhibition of replicas of old weapons and artillery, as well as the specimens of medieval weapons.

In the days of the Teutonic knights the meeting and deliberations took place in the chapter room. As the remnants of the medieval equipment of the room there are openings in the floor, which then formed part of the heating system bringing the hot air. Later on the room was converted into Renaissance style in which it has remained until today.

In one of the rooms on the ground floor one can see the iron hooks on the ceiling. According to oral transmission they are the dismal testimony to the former premises of the room, which, if necessary, served as torture chambers.

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Porta Nigra

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.