Trier – what can you do there? Like most of the settlements situated around the Rhine region, Trier has a history that dates back to Roman times and that is well preserved at some of its aspects. The indisputable landmark of the city is Porta Nigra – the best preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps. This spectacular construction, whose name translates ‘the black gate’ and originated in the Middle Ages, is part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Not to miss: The Porta Nigra gate

The ancient Trier city-gate Porta Nigra was constructed between 186 and 200 AD from grey sandstone. Its initial name was lost in the ages. It gained the name Port Nigra in the Middle Ages because time and weather had caused its stone to darken. What could be seen today is actually the remains of a complex Roman fortification system. Porta Nigra is one of four gates that used to guard the Roman city of Trier, situated over the Mosel river. In the early Middle Ages part of the Porta Nigra, as well as all the rest three gates, were destructed and used for building materials.

The Porta Nigra in Trier
The Porta Nigra in Trier

The monastery Simeonstift constructed next to the Porta Nigra originates in the Middle Ages too. It was built to commemorate Simeon, a Greek monk who lived in the ruins of the gate as a hermit between 1028 and 1035. Soon after, with some fortifications and adjustment of its space, the gate was transformed into a church, which act to a great extent has preserved it until today. In 1802, however, the French conqueror Napoleon ordered the gate to be restored to its initial function.

Very few things of the church have been preserved, its apse being one of them.  The Porta Nigra is situated next to one of the main streets in Trier. It is open to visitors and in summer there are guided tours led by person dressed up as a centurion – a Roman soldier.
There are other things that could be done in Trier. The city, situated on the banks of the Mosel river, is probably the oldest city in Germany. It bears its Roman name until today and is said to be founded around 16 BC.

Trier: Where River Mosel enters Germany

Trier is located in the fertile valley of the Mosel river and borders Luxemburg. This means that it is convenient to hop into the small country and spend some time there too. Situated in the Rhineland-Palatinate German state, Trier is the fourth largest city there.
The weather in Trier is defined by its location in the valley of the Mosel river.

Travel-weather for Trier

The city has four seasons, with July and August being the warmest months in summer and January and February – the coolest months in winter. Though cold, the winters in Trier could also be charming as there are less tourists at that time and provided you have a good coat, nothing can stop you from enjoying the snow-covered city. The autumn period, September and October, are also particularly favourable months to visit the city.

Roman history is everywhere

Though most of the cities and towns in the Rhineland- Palatinate region could be described as romantic, Trier bears the distinguishable and predominant traces of an imperial Roman city. If you are willing to feel the Roman atmosphere it is not only the Porta Nigra that could recreate this feeling. In addition to the gate, there are the remains of a fortification wall, a Roman bridge, an amphitheatre, thermal springs, storehouses. The city has also preserved traces of the craftsmanship that thrived there during Roman times – art of funerary, pottery, glasswork and coin making.

Other well worth visiting Roman remains in Trier are the Roman baths – the largest Roman baths north of the Alps. Nowadays they include the Barbara Baths and the Trier Imperial Baths.

High Cathedral of Saint Peter in Trier

As for ecclesiastical buildings you should look at the Trier Cathedral – a church that dates back to Roman times. The High Cathedral of Saint Peter in Trier, or Trier Dom in German, preserves a significant for Catholics artifact – the so called Holy Tunic, a garment that presumably dates back to the 12th century. Catholics believe that it was what Jesus was wearing when he died. The robe, however, is exhibited only every few decades.

High Cathedral of Saint Peter in Trier
High Cathedral of Saint Peter in Trier

Trier’s Constantine Basilica

Another interesting church is the Constantine Basilica which has the shape of an original Roman basilica. Nowadays it is a Protestant Church. The Liebfrauenkirche (the Church of Our Dear Lady) is an early Gothic cathedral built in the French Gothic tradition. The St Matthias Abbey is a monastery that is still in use and St Gandolf Church is the city market’s church.

What else to see?

The Amphitheater and the Roman bridge should be definitely seen, as already mentioned. Other places of interest for the history lovers are the old Jewish cemetery called Weidergasse and the Jewish quarter of the city in the Middle Ages that is situated next to the Trier Hauptmarkt (the central market) and is called Jugengasse.
There are also many interesting museums in Trier. The city hosts one of Germany’s most important Roman archeological museums called Rheinisches Landesmuseum.

A more recent historic attraction: Karl Marx Haus

Slightly diverging from the Roman theme is the Karl Marx Haus (house), a museum exhibiting personal history, volumes of poetry, original letters, photographs, etc, of the scholar. Two other particularly interesting museums are the Toy Museum of Trier and Roscheider Hof, an open air ethnological museum. It is situated in Trier’s neighbor the town of Konz, but is right on the city limits of Trier. The museum displays in a charming interactive manner the history of rural culture in the northwest Rhineland Palatinate and the area where Germany, Luxembourg and Lorraine meet.

Our conclusion

Preserved Roman atmosphere, an academic center with a reputable university, a wine-making region, the calm and splendid river Mosel – Trier is a place that could offer all this and much more to the city breakers and cruisers.

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