According to an inscription found next to the eastern town gate of Emona, on the site of the present Trg francoske revolucije square, the Roman town walls were built between 14 and 15 AD. The rectangular-shaped walls surrounding the town centre measured 2.4 metres wide and from 6 to 8 metres high. They included at least 26 towers and four main gates. The towers were erected at equal distances along the length of the walls and next to the town's side gates as extensions of Emona's roads. On all sides except the east, which was naturally protected by a slope descending towards the Ljubljanica river, the town was additionally protected by a double moat.

The wall shell was built from carved stone blocks bound with mortar and filled with a conglomerate of river pebbles, small rocks, sand and lime. The wall structure was so solid and robust that certain parts of the wall survived for as long as 2,000 years. The inner structure of the wall is visible in the Mirje suburb, the location of the part of the walls which stood to the west of the main southern gate of Emona. For security reasons some of the side gates had been walled up already in Roman times to ward off attacks from barbarian tribes. One of the surviving walled-up gates can be seen in the western part of the walls in Mirje.

In the 1930s, the town wall complex in Mirje was restored to a design by the architect Jože Plečnik. His additions to the surviving Roman walls include a stone pyramid, upward extensions of the walls, the gates to the wall complex, an arched vault covered in stone remains from nearby Roman buildings, and a park inside the walls. Also the colonnade next to the main southern gate is of non-Roman origin. The walls were renovated in the 1990s.

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Founded: 14-15 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Slovenia

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Michal Vojtas (2 months ago)
Calm small piece in centre of the city with feeling of history.
Katherine Kelly Lynch (4 months ago)
It's a wall. If you haven't seen Roman ruins integrated into everyday life before, go see it, but otherwise don't go out of your way.
Jarrod Hunt (4 months ago)
Pretty unimpressive. Don't be out of your way unless you have a bit of time on your hands
Joshua Alexander (7 months ago)
As a wall conniseur, I found this to be lacking in any substance with poor structural stability. How it is managed to stay up for what 50 years? is beyond me. I get the feeling that this is the kind of workmanship that caused the downfall of the roman empire. 2/10, would not recommend to other wall enthusiasts.
Jonathan Torre (10 months ago)
Visit this if you happen to be nearby. It is pleasant and quiet, yet only minutes from city center. There is some old Roman architecture, as well as some newer architecture (a pyramid) integrated into it. A few signs are there to educate you.
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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.