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Trier: one of the capitals of the Western Roman Empire

Trier is an average city in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which has about 100,000 inhabitants. The city is located on the right bank of the Moselle river, in a large basin between the Eifel mountains in the north and Hunsrück mountains in the south, about 15 km from the border with Luxembourg.

Trier is one of the oldest cities in Germany having been founded by the Romans in the year 16 BC The city was founded near a Roman military settlement dating back to 30 BC Trier was called by the name of Augusta Treverorum, and became the capital of the Roman province of Belgica.

During the Roman Empire the city prospered. In 180 AD the city walls were built over 6 km long and with five access gates, of which today the famous Porta Nigra remains. In 275, the city was destroyed by the Alemanni. But subsequently Trier was reborn more powerful than before, becoming from 293 to 395 one of the three residences of the western Roman emperor and an important bishopric. At the time it was known as the “second Rome”.

The city is in fact famous for the numerous Roman buildings still well preserved. In 1986, the Roman Monuments (the Porta Nigra, the Imperial Baths, the Amphitheater, the Roman Bridge, the Palatine Hall (Basilica), the Barbara Baths and the Roman Mausoleum of Igel (located in Igel, a few km south -west of Trier)). But also the Cathedral of St. Peter and the Church of Our Lady (Liebfrauenkirche) of Trier have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF TRIER

THE PORTA NIGRA

Of all the Roman monuments in Trier, the Porta Nigra is today the symbol of the city. This perfectly preserved Roman gate was built in the 2nd century AD. with blocks of sandstone, and is made up of towers and a double order of galleries. Between the eleventh and eighteenth centuries the gate was incorporated into the double church of Saint Simeon, of which the Romanesque apse is preserved.

THE OTHER ROMAN MONUMENTS

Another well-preserved building of the Roman Augusta Treverorum is the Palatine Hall. A brick apsidal judicial basilica, with double rows of windows, built around 310 AD. This was the throne room of Emperor Constantine, and was later used as a fortress by the archbishops and electors of Trier. Today it is a Protestant church (Church of the Savior).

Interesting are the remains of two large Roman spas. The Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen), dating back to the 4th century AD and the Baths of Saint Barbara (Barbarathermen), built in the 2nd century AD. The remains of the Amphitheater built around 100 AD are also from Roman times. The structure could host about 20,000 spectators. Under the amphitheater there is a large underground, still accessible today. Finally, the Roman bridge (Römerbrücke) over the Moselle is well preserved, so much so that cars still pass there today.

Remains of two basilicas and an imperial palace are located under the cathedral. While inside the modern structure of protection of the spas of the livestock market, the remains of a Roman thermal plant are visible. Under the former Benedictine abbey of St. Maximin there is a vast paleochristian necropolis which includes several hundred tombs of the first Christians and some of the first bishops of the city.

In the northern area of the city is the Pfalzel district. Here the late Roman emperors built a palace-fortress in a strategic position a few kilometers downstream of the city, near a second recently discovered Roman bridge. In the neighborhood several buildings have remains of Roman buildings that go up to the second floor.

THE MEDIEVAL MONUMENTS

Among the medieval buildings, the most important is the Cathedral (Dom St. Peter), one of the oldest in Germany. It was built on the remains of an ancient Roman palace. In fact, a first church was built in the 4th century AD, later this structure was partially destroyed.

The cathedral was later rebuilt in the 11th century. In 1160 the eastern choir was added with the crypt and apse in Swabian-Romanesque forms. The Gothic cloister was built in the 13th century. The interior is formed by a large nave cut by a vast transept, with two apses, a rich treasure is preserved with rare Carolingian and Ottonian incunabula and goldsmiths of the X-XIII centuries. Interesting are the Gothic churches of Liebfrauenkirche, the oldest Gothic church in Germany, built in the 13th century with a Greek cross plan. While in the Market Square is the 15th century Sankt Gangolfskirche (Church of Saint Gondulf).

THE MARKET SQUARE

The Market Square (Hauptmarkt) is the center of medieval Trier. Here overlook the Steipe (town hall of the city council), the Sankt Gangolfskirche (Saint Gondulf), the official town size of the arm (reconstruction) adjacent to the Steipe, the pillory (rebuilt), the street that leads to the Cathedral and the access to the Jewish quarter. From the Market Square, the alley of the Jews (Judengasse) leads to the medieval Jewish quarter.

Along the Moselle bank is the Crane District (Krahnenviertel), where two cranes are extraordinary examples of ancient technology, witnesses of the intense commercial traffic of the past. The crane to the north dates back to 1413, while the one near the Roman bridge was built in 1774. Finally, the Prince Elector’s Palace (Kurfürstliches Palais), a Rococo-style building, built between 1756 and 1761, should be noted. In the palace garden there are copies of baroque statues of gods and remains of the medieval city walls.

From Trier you can make beautiful boat trips along the Moselle, or visit one of the many wineries in the area where you can taste the Moselle wines, among the best in Germany.

WHAT TO SEE: TRIER MUSEUMS

Among the museums of the city we find the Karl Marx House (Karl-Marx-Haus). Here in fact Karl Marx, the famous economist and philosopher, was born in 1818. The Simeonstift Civic Museum, is a civic museum which houses documents relating to the history of the city. There are paintings and sculptures from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, a collection of furniture with secrétaire from the 18th / 19th century, a collection of Coptic fabrics, a collection of small format Asian statuettes. The Toy Museum (Spielzeug-Museum), with over 5,000 objects including mechanical toys, cars, airplanes, tin figurines, toys inspired by the exploration of the sky and space, miniature trains, dolls.

Another interesting museum is the Rhenish Regional Museum (Rheinisches Landesmuseum), which exhibits archaeological finds from prehistory to the modern age, including the famous Neumagen reliefs, with images of life on the Moselle in Roman times. There is also the largest collection of Roman coins north of the Alps and above all the scale model “Trier in 360/370 AD”. In the museum there are also Roman mosaics, stone steles, finds from the early Christian, Merovingian and medieval era.

Finally, the Museum of Transport (Verkehrsmuseum) and the Episcopal Museum (Bischöfliches Dom- und Diözesanmuseum), whose collection includes finds from the early Christian era, the Middle Ages and the modern age, should be noted. Among these, the frescoed ceiling recomposed from fragments, coming from the Constantinian palace located under the Cathedral of Trier (4th century AD), represents one of the most significant testimonies of late antiquity painting.

The climate of Trier.

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