Porta Nigra kit
Why is it called the ‘black gate’?
The ashlars who make up the building of the ‘Porta Nigra’ were laid out without mortar. The original light grey colored sandstone has turned into black over time and by weathering. Accordingly the name for the city gate changed in the middle ages from ‘Porta Martis’ to ‘black gate’.
- difficulty level: medium
- measurements: 23 x 13 x 20 centimeters
Who never heard of this famous building in Trier? - the Porta Nigra of our cardboard kit?
Short description of a great construction
Cardboard kit ‘Porta Nigra’ (latin for ‘black gate’) depicts an ancient Roman city gate which became a famous point of interest in Trier, the oldest town in Germany. As an ensemble with the cathedral and Liebfrauenkirche (a church dedicated to Saint Mary) the cardboard kit Porta Nigra acquired the rank of an UNESCO world heritage Roman memorials. It also holds a recognition as protected cultural asset as defined by the La Hague Convention (to be protected in war).
Erection of the building
The cardboard kit Porta Nigra was constructed as northern access point to the town around 190 AD, when Trier was called Augusta Treverorum. The gate was integral part of the city walls measuring 6,4 kilometers in length. Researchers believe the cardboard kit Porta Nigra had both protective and representative functions combined. So this sums up to more than 1800 years in proud service. The building consists of about 7200 ashlars, of which the largest ones had a weight of approximately six tons. They were cut by help of bronce saws, powered by water mills, and shifted without the use of mortar. Instead, they were clamped together by horizontal irons. From those clamps nothing is left today, they were either stolen over time or rusted away.
Anyway, the square stones were crafted so precisely they stayed on the place without additional means of securing. But the Porta Nigra was never completed - it was left as unfinished business but didn’t mean less recognition and fame ever since.
In the middle ages
1027 AD an errant monk from Sicily named Simeon took home as a hermit in the building and was buried on the ground floor after his death 1035 AD. The archbishop honored him by erecting the so-called chapter of Simeon and transforming the gate to a church with two towers. From middle of 11th century to beginning of 19th century Porta Nigra had the function of a church. When Napoleon noticed the attributions to the original design he had them removed as he disliked them. So by 1815 the Roman city gate was restored to what it had been earlier. From medieval changes only the lower part of the apse remained.
The name ‘Porta Nigra’ was given to the impressive construction as the model for our cardboard kit as late as during 11th century. Construction material once was white or light grey in color. It took hundreds of years to turn the stone color into what that look which produced the name ‘black gate’ = Porta Nigra rightfully. So that’s the history of the world-famous cardboard kit Porta Nigra in a nutshell. Forum Traiani ® is a registered trademark.
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