Visit Trier – Germany’s Oldest City

Europe - Editor - 20 April 2012

Visit Trier – Germany’s Oldest City

Nestled in a valley between sandstone, vine-covered hills in Germany's Mosel wine region, the city of Trier is thought to have been established in 16 BC by Roman Emperor Augustus. Trier lies on the banks of the Moselle River which flows through France, Luxembourg and Germany, watering the fertile land surrounding it. The city has abundant evidence of its Roman origins, bearing testimony to its reputation as having been the Roma Secunda, or Second Rome, during the time of Roman rule. Among the many historic sites to be visited in Trier, are the Cathedral of Trier, Porta Nigra, the Imperial Baths, the Hauptmarkt, and the more recent Karl Marx House.

The Porta Nigra (black gate) is the largest Roman city gate to be found north of the Alps. Included in the World Heritage List compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the grey sandstone structure of Porta Nigra dates back to between 186 and 200 AD when it was constructed to guard the northern entrance to the city of Trier. Porta Nigra is the only gate remaining of the original four-gated defensive walls. This distinctive ancient building is open to tourists, and in the high-season summer months, tours are conducted by a guide in Roman centurion garb.

Also on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites is the Cathedral of Trier – the oldest cathedral in the country. It is an imposing structure with a long history during which it was rebuilt after damage by both the Franks and Normans, and has been added to, giving it an interesting mix of architectural elements. The west-facing front of the building is typical of Romanesque architecture, with the interior featuring Gothic vaulting and a Baroque chapel. Covering an area of 112.5 meters by 41 meters it is the largest church building in Trier.

The ruins of the Kaisertherme, or Imperial Baths, are a popular tourist attraction in Trier. More than 1,600 years old, and featuring an underground water heating system, these Roman baths are considered to be among the most impressive found anywhere in the regions once dominated by the Romans.

Karl Marx House was the birthplace of the renowned German sociologist, philosopher, historian, journalist and socialist, Karl Marx (1818-1883), renowned for his innovative thinking which led to the development of social science as a field of study and the socialist political movement. Other attractions in and around the city of Trier include the Roman amphitheater, the still functional Roman bridge across the River Moselle, the Saint Paulin Church and the old Jewish cemetery.


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