Trier is the oldest city in Germany and can trace its roots back to the 1st Century BC. When we saw that it was available as a housesit over Christmas and New Year for several weeks we jumped at it. We anticipated Christmas markets, drinking lots of Gluwein, nice cozy restaurants, and exploring so many UNESCO sights with the dogs in tow. We had been told by James that Hector and Maple were very at home in a pub or restaurant.
But covid did make things different. Germany’s numbers were rising, Omnicron had just been discovered and things were locking down. We are very careful not to mix too much with crowds. We did go to the Christmas market but it was a lot less substantial than in previous years and in fact was one of the few still open in Germany. We did drink some Gluwein but just outside the market as oppose to in the crush of people with a mask off.
We also never went to any restaurants as they were all 2G+ at that time and then required a double vaccination as well as a 24-hour valid antigen test. We decided to be cautious and rather bought special food to cook at our apartment. But we did go out and see the sights and there are so many in Trier. It is such a beautiful city with 7 UNESCO monuments!
Trier is situated on the banks of the Moselle River. It was founded by the Celts in the late 4th century BC as Treuorum and conquered 300 years later by the Romans, under Julius Caesar who renamed it Augusta Treverorum (“The City of Augustus among the Treveri”). Trier is considered Germany’s oldest city.
There are so many things to see:
See the Roman Gate – the Porta Nigra
This gate is the largest Roman city gate north of the alps and was built at the end of the 2nd century. It was added to the old Roman town walls as a fortified gate. It has two semi-circular towers, the larger climbing to four storeys. It was made with blocks of local sandstone fastened in place with iron clamps. It is referred to by locals as “Porta”. The gate became a holy site in the Middle Ages.
Trier has three famous churches, the Protestant church or Basilica, and two Roman catholic churches, the Dom and the Libenfrauenkirche or Church of our Lady. The latter two are built next to each other and were originally an ancient Roman double church. All three are UNESCO world heritage sites.
Visit the beautiful Dom Cathedral
The utterly stunning Dom Cathedral is referred to as the Dom or the Cathedral. After Constantine converted to Christianity, he set about building a complex of four basilicas in Trier on the site of the current cathedral. Much of what is seen today was constructed in the 11th and 12th centuries. When it was finished it had a footprint four times the size. It really is huge! The cathedral is a big mix of different styles as over time the building was extended rather than rebuilt. There are three Romanesque naves with Gothic vaults and some baroque finishes. Also the robe reputedly worn by Jesus (the “Holy Tunic”) is kept here. The Cathedral of Trier was heavily damaged in the war & was reopened in 1974. In 1984, they celebrated their 2,000th anniversary!
Visit the stunning Liebfrauenkirche
Germany’s earliest Gothic church is on the south wall of the Trier Cathedral. I was awed at how beautiful it was inside. I visited on New Year’s day. I wanted to go back the next day on the 2nd (the anniversary of my brother Justy’s death), but it was closed for a special service. The sound from the service still gently filtered through to the Dom. The Church of our Lady is shaped almost round which is unusual: It was built over a Roman early church at the beginning of the 13th century.
“…whose cross-shaped vaulting with four corresponding portals in rounded niches is completed by eight rounded altar niches so that the floor plan resembles a twelve-petaled rose, a symbol of the Virgin Mary, the rosa mystica, and reminiscent of the twelve tribes of Israel and the Twelve Apostles.” ~ Wikipedia
Visit the Basilica
The Aula Palatina, also known as the Basilica of Constantine (Konstantin-Basilika), is a Roman basilica built in the time of Emperor Constantine, who resided in Trier from AD 306 to 312. It has been fully restored and serves as the Protestant Church. It has the world’s largest ancient hall, measuring 67 meters long, 27 meters wide, and 33 meters high. Sadly it was closed when we visited. I have heard that classical concerts in this venue are fantastic.
Visit the Hauptmarkt
This is the soul of a medieval Trier. It was laid out in the 10th century after the previous one was ransacked during a Viking raid a few decades earlier (isn’t that just amazing). The three-metre cross was erected to commemorate this event in 958.
Visit the Christmas market in the Hauptmarkt
See the Petrusbrunnen
On the south side of the marketplace is the Rennaissance Petrusbrunnen dating to 1595 and topped with a statue of Trier’s patron saint Peter. Peter stands above the statues of the four cardinal virtues, justice, fortitude, prudence and temperance.
Visit the grounds of the Electoral Palace
The Electoral Palace or Kurfürstliches Palais sits on the east side of the Basilica. The building was started in 1615. The palace is a working palace so there is no public access. It’s an unusual pinkish colour in contrast to the green lawns. The gardens are also very pretty.
Visit the Kaiserthermen or Imperial baths
These are also a world heritage site. Sadly with covid they were closed when we went to visit, so we just saw them from the outside. The Roman baths were started in the 3rd century and finished in the 4th century. They were built by the Emperor as a gift to the public of Trier. There are plenty of passageways with furnaces for heating and then the impressive outer walls.
So very many things to see and do in Trier!