Trier is is the oldest city in Germany – around 2000 years old. 1700 years ago, Trier was the largest city north of the alps. And that’s saying a lot. It has more Roman monuments than any other German city and both beer and wine. Well, do I need to say more…
Unfortunately, I only had a short stopover in Trier, and I would love to spend more time here. In fact, I would just love to have more than the 1,5 hour we had. Which was only half the time it took to get there from our hotel by the Rhine. But that’s the way it is sometimes and things seldom go as planned. And we had left the kid at the hotel, so too bad for me. But hopefully not for you.
You should spent more time here than I did, since Trier has 9(!) World Heritage Sites appointed by UNESCO. Combined they make the old city a unique example of 400 years of Roman culture. I’m not going to mention them all here, but just show you enough to swing by this ancient town. 4 Roman sites and 2 Christian. And since it’s Germany: a stop for beer – and wine.
If you are still not convinced here’s…
8 REASONS TO VISIT TRIER
1 PORTA NIGRA
Back when the Bible was written, Porta Nigra was one of 4 gates in Trier and one in many in the vast Roman Empire. It has been preserved so well, since it was turned into a church for some years (buildings like this or temples that become churches are generally preserved).
Today, it’s still spectacular, and the largest gate north of the Alps. You can climb it, but we didn’t have the time. Also it didn’t seem like a top priority.
Porta Nigra means Black Gate. But why is it called the black gate – you ask? From the other side of the gate the answer is clear. Named after the black colour of the stones, this is not how it looked originally, but the wear and tear of time turned the sandstones black. So the name is actually modern – only 900 years that is.
Amphitheaters was not just fun and games. It was a vital part of the Roman empire and everywhere the romans was you’ll find one. Like a “Rome was here”.
Not only built for wild gladiators games and fights against Christians and animals, but the amphitheatres were also for musical recitals and religious festivals. Like a concert hall, a movie theatre, a theatre and a city square all in one.
The area is not that big, and I’ve seen more impressive theatres in Plovdid, Bulgaria, Turkey and Petra, Jordan. Many of the stones are gone, since after the decline of the Roman empire, people took them as building material.
But something you might not have tried before is that you can go underground. From here a wooden platform could be lifted up with new props and what not. Now, it’s like a dark watery cellar. Invocation to the gods of the underworld have been discovered here. It’s definitely atmospheric – and I’m glad there were other tourists.
1800 years ago the 20.000 spectators must have been able to lift the roof (if there was one). Notice the vineyards right next to the fence – again the Romans, but more on that later. The entrance is 4 euro. You’ll discover further down, why I wish I hadn’t spent that money.
3 IMPERIAL BATHS
By now, we were behind schedule. So my husband wouldn’t let me wait in line for the baths because he was too worried about our son back at the hotel. I just managed to look over the wall…
If you like me have to choose between sights, I think the baths are more interesting than the amphitheatre.
4 BASILICA OF KONSTANTIN
5 ELECTORAL PALACE
But apparently, this wasn’t enough. In the late 1700s, they needed to upgrade and added a rococo building. I mean literally attached it to the Roman hall even partly hiding it. It’s a fine palace, but what a shame to the old throne hall. As typical architecture of the time, the Electoral Palace is pretty in pink and sooo rococo with sculptures in harmony, delicate ornaments and a details. Inside is a water clock fountain telling the whole history of Trier.
If you have extra time, sit down in the lovely garden and smell the roses. While you relax here are some fun facts on Trier:
FUN FACTS ON TRIER
- oldest city in Germany
- was called Augusta Treverorum- imperialic city
- Emperor Konstantin’s mother lived close to the city
- was occupied by the French in 1797
- birthplace of Karl Marx
From here you can continue towards the other baths. (They really liked their baths. But I guess it made them feel more at home and helped getting through cold German winters). Instead, I went back towards the Hauptmarkt for a quick beer. I needed one to drown my sorrows of having missed the basilica.
6 TIMEOUT IN TRIER
We visited during Corona, so we had to write a name and information before drinking. Probably a good idea. Beer is brewed locally in several breweries, so you ca just dive in and discover your favourite. (Sorry, but no pic of a beer – was too busy drinking it)
While enjoying the drink, you can do some people watching or enjoy the not-Roman buildings. Like the fountain of Peter, which is 500 years old and with a lot of gold. Other buildings like the Dreikongerhaus is 800 years old.
7 TRIER CATHEDRAL
By now, it was so late, that my husband wanted to drive back. But having already missed the basilica I couldn’t miss the church. So he went out for some takeaway to bring back to our son at the hotel, while I had 10 minutes to see the church. Almost a drive-by visit. But I’m so happy I made it.
The Romans not only left stone behind. They also imported wine. And Germany for sure embraced this culinary drink and made it their own. More than that, the area around the river Mosel and the Rhine produces some of the best wines in the world. (Why do you think we went here?)
Before we ran to the car to hurry the 1.5 hours drive back to our son at the hotel and jump in the pool, we did one thing you also should do. Buy a bottle of wine from Mosel. Or no: make it two! Or just fill the car.