ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE IN THE QUATTROPOLE CITIES
QuattroPole: four cities whose historic roots are amazingly diverse yet represent shared heritage, unbelievable history and impressive architecture. The Romans, for example, conquered the city of Trier long ago. Visitors can still marvel at the spectacular historic structures, including the Porta Nigra and the Imperial Baths. Grand Baroque buildings, including the Ludwigskirche church, still adorn the capital of Saarland to this day. Metz, by contrast, has its sights set on the future with the Centre Pompidou-Metz, an architectural masterpiece of the modern era. In Luxembourg, visitors are wowed by the military architecture in the form of the casemates and by the modern buildings in Kirchberg, where various European institutions are currently based.
Luxembourg – see a united Europe with your own eyes
The vibrant metropolis of Luxembourg greets visitors with sensational contrasts between the past and present. Its 1,000-year history can be seen in the stunning skyline with numerous monumental fortress ruins. The best way to see history up close is on a walk through the cosy alleyways of the Old Town, the parks or the modern Kirchberg plateau. The picturesque squares and the variety of historic and cultural sights can be explored at your own pace or on city tours, which run at regular intervals. The Wenzel Circular Walk, named after Wenceslaus II, the Duke of Luxembourg in the early 15th century, takes visitors on a journey back through the thousand years of the city’s history in roughly an hour and a half. Past the Bock promontory with the Bock casemates and across the Castle Bridge, the circular tour heads to the Chemin de la Corniche, also known as the most beautiful balcony in Europe: Built in the 17th century, the "chemin de ronde" offers glorious views of the Alzette Valley.
The modern Luxembourg, by contrast, is writing European history as we speak as a place where visitors can see a united Europe in action. Most of the EU institutions located in Luxembourg, including the Secretariat of the European Parliament, the European Court of Justice, the European Investment Bank, the European Court of Auditors and various departments of the European Commission, have been situated in modern admin buildings on the Kirchberg plateau since the 1960s. Luxembourg is also the birthplace of Robert Schuman, one of the founding fathers of European unity. The best way for visitors to explore the “European Luxembourg” is on the “Luxembourg, a European Capital” themed tour.
Metz – where imperial history meets modern France
Past meets present in the most spectacular way in Metz. The city captivates tourists with its diverse architecture and interesting mix of historic and modern buildings. St-Etienne Cathedral, the city’s most famous landmark, features one of the world’s most remarkable Gothic stained-glass windows alongside windows painted by modernist Marc Chagall.
Without a doubt, the spectacular Centre Pompidou-Metz art centre, designed by famous Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and his French colleague Jean de Gastines, is a stunning example of modern architecture. Shigeru Ban received the Pritzker Architecture Prize – the world’s most coveted architectural award – for his masterpieces. The unmistakable roof of the museum is designed to resemble the hat of an Asian rice farmer. The Centre Pompidou-Metz is a stone’s throw away from the Imperial Quarter.
The sensational train station district features a remarkable ensemble of German architecture from the early 20th century in a combination of modern and historic styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque; Art Deco and Art Nouveau. The new 38-hectare Amphitheatre Quarter to the south of the Centre Pompidou-Metz is a modern area with residential buildings and offices, a conference venue and a shopping centre that have risen from the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre dating back to the second century.
Saarbrücken – a modern metropolis with a Baroque heart
The Ludwigskirche, a church in Old Saarbrücken joins the likes of the Dresden Frauenkirche and St. Michael's Church in Hamburg in being named one of Germany’s most significant Evangelical Baroque churches. To this day, it dominates the city skyline alongside several Baroque buildings by architect Friedrich Joachim Stengel.
The city’s history dates back to 999 AD, when Holy Roman Emperor Otto III gifted the Bishops of Metz the castle of Sarabrucca, which then lent its name to Saarbrücken. Since 2007, visitors have been able to tour the fascinating medieval and Renaissance fortifications of Saarbrücken Castle, which lay hidden underground for centuries. It is now an underground museum that brings history to life: 14 metres below Saarbrücken’s Schlossplatz (Castle Square), tourists can marvel at the ruins of the former castle complexes and be amazed by the castle vaults and mighty underground bastion that date back more than 500 years.
The city’s multifaceted history is reflected in Saarbrücken’s variety of museums: The Museum of Pre- and Early History on the Schlossplatz is a kind of archaeological shop window with coins, gold jewellery and grave ornaments from the Celtic and Roman eras and the Merovingian dynasty alongside artwork from the Middle Ages right through to the 19th century. The castle’s late Gothic church, which features religious artwork and colourful stained-glass windows by Georg Meistermann, has been included in the museum. The Saar Historical Museum on the Schlossplatz has found captivating ways to document recent events in the state capital.
Trier – a vestige of Roman life
Visitors wanting a vivid depiction of the Roman Empire in Germany should come to Trier. The colossal Porta Nigra (Black Gate) is an excellent example of this. Constructed in the late second century AD, it is the city’s most famous landmark.
The well-preserved Trier Amphitheatre is also from the same era. If you use your imagination, you can still see gladiators’ battling it out in front of a captivated audience. The three baths are another relic from the Roman Empire. The most recent and biggest are the Imperial Baths, which date back to the fourth century. The Barbara Baths were built in the second century. They attracted bathers with swimming pools and steam baths, relaxation benches, restaurants and shops and were in no way inferior to the modern spas of today. Lastly, the Thermen am Viehmarkt were first discovered in the 1980s when planning the construction of an underground car park. The foundations date back to the second century, while the baths constructed on top of them were erected in the fourth century.
Having said all this, Trier should not be reduced to just its Roman heritage. Later generations have also shaped the face of the city and left numerous landmarks behind. Remnants of three periods of history – Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism – can be found at Trier’s Hauptmarkt square. Tucked away behind the Romanesque Frankenturm is the Kornmarkt square, where visitors can marvel at the Classicist-style french Casino and the Rococo-style St. George’s Fountain. And the magnificent Electoral Palace, in feminine pink and white, is quite possibly one of the world’s most beautiful Rococo buildings. Trier is also rich in religious history: The High Cathedral of Saint Peter, constructed in the fourth century on the remains of a Roman residential building, is Germany’s oldest episcopal church.