Trier, the Oldest City in Germany
Often tourists give the picturesque little town of Trier, in South-West Germany, a miss as it is not on any of the popular tourist circuits. Although Trier is to one side it is very well connected to the rest of German and of course Luxembourg is just 15 KM away. We did a day trip from Frankfurt and travelled by the super efficient Deutsche Bahn (DB). To be frank Trier was not in our itinerary too. Thanks to some good-natured friendly persuasion by Ursula and Guenther, we decided for top things to do in Trier Germany. And are we happy to have gone there? You bet!.
Here are some reasons why you should put Trier on your travel map. Trier boasts of 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Trier is probably the oldest city in Germany. If these don’t motivate you then this certainly would. Mosel wine country is the best wine region in Germany! Trier has one of the oldest universities, the University of Trier, which was founded in 1473 CE.
A Glimpse into the Ancient History
Celts were the first to cross over the Mosel river and settle in this region. The Celts tribe that came here were called the Treveri hence the settlement was called Treves. This was in the 4th Century BCE. In fact the word Treveri means lossle as those who crossed the river (Mosel).
Julius Caesar Invaded and added this region to his ever increasing empire in the 1st Century BC. They renamed it to Augusta Treverorum. With time and with successive empires and kings, the name got changed to Trier. So in a way Trier was the gateway for Romans to enter Germania as Julius Caesar used to call this and all regions east of the Rhine River.
Roman Structures and Ruins
Trier was often referred to as Rome of the North and for the following reasons.
Porta Nigra, Trier
Porta Nigra or the Black Gate was one of the 4 gates to the cities, perhaps the oldest. It was built in the year 170CE making it 1850 years old. It is still in good condition and one can even climb to higher floors for a spectacular view of the old town. It is a UNSECO world Heritage site.
When Romans arrived can the Amphitheater be far behind?
Romans built this immense Amphitheater that can accommodate 18,000 spectators at a time.Of course not much is left of the 1700 year old Amphitheater but you can always imagine how it would have been in those days. Trier Amphitheater is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Trier Imperial Roman Baths (Kaiserthermen)
Community baths are another signature structure of early Romans. A community bath served as a place to meet people, friends and even conduct business. The ruins are in better condition and one can explore the underground passageways used by the staff of the Bath to serve their customers unobtrusively.
Imperial Roman Baths at Trier is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Barbara Bath, Trier
Barbara bath was the biggest Roman bath outside Rome! It was built in the latter half of 2nd Century CE. Not much is left today and authorities may resume excavations too. Everything is left to your imagination though. Barbara bath is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Moselle Bridge or the Roman Bridge or Römerbrücke , the oldest stone Bridge in Germany
The first Mosel bridge, made of wood, over the river Mosel was built in the year 17BCE. In the year 140CE it was replaced by a stone bridge. The most incredible fact is that the bridge is still in use! The Roman Bridge at Trier is a UNSECO world Heritage site. The Romans used to throw coins into the River as an offering to the Goddess Moseila, with a hope of turning their luck. During a recent excavation , the authorities found a cache of 2500 Roman Gold coins! (Not the same coins for sure) 🙂
Igel Column ( Igeler Säule), Trier
Romans were extravagant, both while living and after death. No doubt about that. The head of the Secundinii family who built a successful textile business, built this huge 23 M high column as a Tomb for himself and his family. Yes, it is the biggest in Germany. Igel Column is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Aula Palatina or the Basilica of Constantine
Aula Palanitna was built by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the year 310 CE. The highlight is a large pillar less hall with provision for heating the floor during winters. Aula Palantina is a UNSECO World Heritage site.