Roman Augusta Treverorum
Our second part for this weekend after visiting the city of Luxembourg was for the historical small city of Trier, just across the border in western Germany. So what’s the importance in this city, that perhaps majority of people did not hear about its existence? Being one of the most important ancient Roman cities in current Germany, as well believed to be the oldest city in the country. The ancient Roman monuments and remains are scattered through the city, most of which reused many hundreds of years ago implemented in new constructions from the era.
By the 4th century the city was among the largest even in the world at probably reaching around 100000 inhabitants. Nowadays to compare, the city is home to 107000! Almost equal to what is today, 1600 years after its peak at the brink of the decline of the Roman Empire.
But is is not only about the Roman monuments that makes the city special. Of course having the largest hall from antiquity to survive today in almost intact condition, or the oldest bridge in the whole of Germany, are some of the facts. The other ones are the oldest Gothic church in the country, the oldest of any church in Germany, and also the second oldest, and while talking about cult and Christianity here, the Cathedral of Trier has among its treasures the Holy Tunic, said to be the robe Jesus was wearing when he died. All of this, together with a very beautiful old town, that even it was heavily damaged during WWII, was nicely restored and rebuilt afterwards; makes it perfect for a great day out.
A day, as mentioned, is all you need for visiting the entire city. It is very small after all, and walking from end to end is matter of minutes hence do not over estimate your time. If this is what worries you then I can ensure you half a day is all you need, in case you are in a tight agenda or moving somewhere else after Trier or even flying away later on.
For more information about Trier check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. Germany’s currency is the Euro. Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Trier
- Roman remains Scattered through the old town of Trier. Although few remain, some are of great importance hence the inclusion as UNESCO World Heritage site.
-Amphitheatre In quite a good shape although pretty much the foso and first tier of grades (without the grades) is what is left.
-Baths The city was home to 3 baths, 2 of which are still in their location.
-Imperial Baths As opposed to the Barbara Baths, in here you can still see the large walls and passages. Located west from the Amphitheatre.
-Barbara Baths Built in the 2nd century AD are the largest north of the Alps, although its few remains cannot give an idea of how the place might have looked in the past. West from the Imperial Baths along the Kaiserstraße.
-Roman Bridge The oldest standing bridge in Germany. While the pillars all date back to the 2nd century AD, the upper part was latest renewed in the 18th century. Located at the southwest of the city, at the end of Kaiserstraße.
-Basilica of Constantine Also known as the Aula Palatina was built by emperor Constantine at the beginning of the 4th century. The hall, at 67 meters long, is the largest hall from antiquity to survive today in almost intact condition. Nowadays it is the Church of the Redeemer. Located north of the Imperial Baths, with the Palace Gardens at the front.
-Porta Nigra The best preserved and largest Roman gate north of the Alps. Built in 200 AD, is the only one to survive from 4 the city originally had, located at the northern edge of the old town.
-Igel Column Not in the city of Trier itself but in the neighbouring Igel, south of Trier and along the Moselle River. Dating from 250AD is a burial monument of the Secundinii cloth merchant family.
- Electoral Palace and Gardens Attached to the Basilica of Constantine at one of the sides, it is considered as the most beautiful rococo style palace in the world. The gardens are a wonderful piece of Baroque style.
- The Red Tower Meters north from the Electoral Palace and Basilica of Constantine.
- Liebfrauenkirche The earliest Gothic church in Germany (together with the Cathedral of Magdeburg). Located next door to the Cathedral, the entire subterranean foundations are of Roman origin, but not open to the public.
- Trier Cathedral The oldest cathedral in Germany, completed in 1270, and like the Liebfrauenkirche, the foundations are Roman, with some Roman brick fabric still on the surface at some parts. Among its treasuries is the Holy Tunic, said to be the robe Jesus was wearing when he died.
- Walderdorff Palace Opposite the Cathedral, is the Archbishop’s Palace.
- St. Gangolf’s Church The second oldest church in the city (and country) after the Cathedral. Located in the same square with the Cathedral.
- Market Square The nicest in Trier, completely surrounded by historical buildings. It’s located west of the Cathedral.
- Simeonstraße Main pedestrian street in the core of the old town, heading from Market Square to the Porta Nigra.
- Saint Paulinus’ Church Built in 1753 in Baroque style, it has an ornate Rococo interior and beautiful ceiling paintings. North of the Porta Nigra, outside the old town core.
- St. Matthias’ Abbey This Benedictine monastery, an important pilgrimage because of the tomb of Saint Matthias the Apostle, the only burial of an apostle in Germany and north of the Alps. At the south of the city, along the main avenue, Simeonstraße – Saarstraße.
- The Old Cranes of the Moselle Located at the west of the city, along the Moselle Riverside.
-Trier Moselle Crane Dating from 1413, in Gothic style.
-Old Customs Crane Dating from 1774 in Baroque style.
The nearest airport to Trier is Luxembourg City at 45 kilometres to the west. Cheap and frequent transportation to/from the airport is available via bus, at the cost of 4 Euros.
Coming by train is also pretty much straightforward with plenty of connections through Germany and across the border to Luxembourg and into France. Long distance buses, however, are better options with more direct services than by train.
Within the city there is absolutely no need for getting any public transport to visit all the sights. Its reduced size and compact old town make it perfect to visit on foot. Furthermore, the main commercial streets in the old town are pedestrian friendly.
I cannot recommend any hotel in Trier since we had our base in Luxembourg City. In any case due to its reduced size, do not expect to find large properties or a good selection. Instead, there is only a bunch of hotels, nothing to compare with the great and large choice back in Luxembourg. Trier is a day-tripper city so tourists do not usually stay here overnight but elsewhere along their tours.
We found a great deal, however, on the British Airways website in their flight+hotel deals. Not only we got the very best flying times with BA, but also one of the nicest hotels, the DoubleTree by Hilton, 12 Rue Jean Engling in the north of the city, outside of the city centre but well linked by public transport to anywhere downtown. The hotel was really nice, from all members of staff at any department to the level of care, cleanliness and facilities; not to mention the usual Hilton breakfast, some of the best of any hotel.