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Places in Europe: Trier, Germany

BASIC INFORMATION

  • Name: Trier
  • Where: Germany
  • Founded: 16 B.C.
  • Population: 114,914
  • More Information: Trier in One Day

Picture from Trier, Germany

Narrative

Of the places that I have traveled in Western Germany my favorite city is Trier located near the country’s border with Luxembourg:

What makes Trier different from many other cities in Germany is its Roman past.  The evidence of Trier’s Roman past is still evident to this day with many ruins from this great civilization spread throughout the city.  The Romans are believed to have established Trier in 16 B.C. under the rule of Emperor Caesar Augustus.  The Romans named the city Augusta Treverorum since it was founded in the Celtic region known as Treveri. Over time the city took on its current German name of Trier.  Like most other Roman settlements of the time Trier was laid out in a grid pattern with expansive streets along the Moselle River:

Picture from Trier, Germany

The largest and most photogenic ruin from the city’s Roman past is without a doubt the Porta Nigra stone gate:

Picture from Trier, Germany

As the city grew in size and importance the Romans in 180AD built a great stone wall around the city.  The Porta Nigra gate after nearly 2,000 years is still standing in testament to how big and imposing the stone walls around Trier must have been:

Picture from Trier, Germany

After the split of the Roman empire Trier became one of three capitals in the Western Roman empire in 293.  From Trier a total of six Roman emperors ruled during the 4th century A.D.  As the Western Roman empire collapsed Germanic tribes eventually destroyed the city in the 5th century.  In 485 the Franks took over the city and imported their German language.  The city would go on to be destroyed many other times over the years to include by Viking raiders and most recently by World War II. However, after all these years it remains a German city with reminders of its Roman past every where you look. In fact active digs of Roman ruins continues throughout the city:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Other prominent Roman ruins that can be viewed in Trier are the Imperial Baths:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Going to the bath houses were an important part of Roman life.  The Imperial Baths in Trier were so large that it had room for a 650 person orchestra to entertain bathers.  The people using the baths were all naked and males and females were known to bathe to together.  The baths had both hot and cold water and a variety of services to include scrubbers, barbers, and hair dressers:

Picture from Trier, Germany

As I walked around the ruins I was just impressed by the engineering skills of the Romans who built structures so strong they are still standing after all these centuries of warfare in Europe:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Like other Roman cities, Trier had its own amphitheater where gladiator fights and other public events could be held:

Picture from Trier, Germany

 

The largest Roman building remain in Trier is the Imperial Throne Room.  The Roman Emperor Constantine had the structure built in 306 A.D. The building was severely damaged after the fall of the Western Roman Empire but was eventually renovated into a church. The building was once again damaged during World War II to be renovated back into the church that people can see today:

Picture from Trier, Germany

However, the city’s history did not end with the Romans they were just the beginning.  The city also has a rich German history.  Built adjacent to the Imperial Throne Room is the Electoral Palace:

Picture from Trier, Germany

This incredibly ornate palace perfectly shows the relationship between the city’s Roman past and current German heritage:

Picture from Trier, Germany

The palace was built in 1615 as the seat of the local government.  Like many other structure in Trier the building was greatly damaged during World War II, but has been beautifully restored to its present condition.  The beautiful garden in front of the palace was added in 1756 and serves as a popular park:

Picture from Trier, Germany

The garden has a number of very detailed sculptures that I enjoyed checking out:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Picture from Trier, Germany

Another historical and impressive structure in Trier is the Cathedral and Church of Our Lady:

Picture from Trier, Germany

The first cathedral was built here in 270 AD, but a cathedral even larger than the one that stands today was built in the 4th century to honor Emperor Constantine’s conversion to Christianity.  However, the church was destroyed by invading Franks in the 5th century before being rebuilt and destroyed by Normans in the 8th century.  The church would go through more destruction and rebuilds over the years.  The current structure dates to 1270:

Picture from Trier, Germany

The detailed sculptures all around the cathedral are quite impressive:

Picture from Trier, Germany

The artisans during the Middle Ages were amazingly skilled:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Besides checking out historic sites, something I really enjoy about Trier and European cities in general are the small street cafes:

Picture from Trier, Germany

I love getting something to eat or drink and then people watch from the sidewalk and just take in the beautiful surroundings.  I was surprised to even find an area of Trier that had a “Chinatown” of street cafes:

Picture from Trier, Germany

I also enjoyed the elaborate fountains that can be seen in many European cities to include Trier.  Here is a picture of St. Peter’s Fountain in the city’s main market area:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Trier also has many public sculptures to view as well:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Something a historical significance from Trier’s more modern past is the fact the city was the birthplace to Karl Marx.  In fact the home he was born in is now a museum in remembrance of Marx’s life:

Picture from Trier, Germany

The house was built in 1727 long before the time Marx was born in 1818.  Marx is considered by many to be the father of communism and socialism.  Marx died in 1883:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Besides the main tourist sites to see in Trier it was fun just to walk around and discover other old and impressive structures scattered around the city:

Picture from Trier, Germany

I also liked spotting little bits of fine art scattered around Trier such as this crucifix of Jesus above an archway:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Here is an elaborate gate with a large sculpture on it that I spotted as well:

Picture from Trier, Germany

Conclusion

I spent an entire day exploring this city and feel like I just scratched surface. Many of the random sites I spotted in Trier would likely be major tourist attraction in other cities, but due to Trier’s wealth of historical sites many go unnoticed.  Since I enjoy learning about Roman history I found the Roman ruins to be the most interesting sites to see in Trier.  However, there is so much more to see in Trier than just old ruins.  I look forward to returning to Trier again because one day is definitely not long enough to truly appreciate this amazing city.

Note: You can learn more about Trier by ordering the below book:

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