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Trier is the oldest city in Germany and it oozes history at every turn. Located on the Moselle River, not far from the Luxembourg border, the city is known as the ‘Rome of Germany’ thanks to its impressive Roman history. Trier is home to eight UNESCO world heritage sites, Roman ruins, Roman baths, and Medieval architecture. It’s also the birthplace of revolutionary Karl Marx. With over two-thousand years of human history, here’s a history buff’s guide to Trier, Germany:
Explore the City’s Roman History
Over two thousand years ago, the Romans arrived and established the city of Trier. The city soon became a booming trade hub and an important part of the Roman Empire. You can visit world heritage sites such as the Porta Nigra gate or Emperor Constantine’s throne room. The Porta Nigra Gate is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps and was first built in the 2nd century; its gate has two semi-circular towers, one of which is four stories high.
Imagine Life as a Gladiator in the Amphitheatre
Of course, as with any important Roman city, Trier had its own amphitheater which was home to gory battles between gladiators in front of a bloodthirsty crowd. The Trier amphitheater was built in the 3rd century and lies on Petrisberg Hill. Today, you can explore its remains and imagine the roar of the crowd. The site is still home to well-preserved cellars, where the gladiators and animals would have been hoisted to the surface on wooden lifts before being set free to fight. If you’re curious to explore more ancient European cities, it’s definitely worth visiting Plovdiv in Bulgaria, which is also home to an ancient, and well-preserved Roman amphitheater.
See Karl Marx’s Birthplace
If you don’t know who Karl Marx is, you definitely can’t describe yourself as a history buff! Karl Marx was the founder of modern-day communism and his book ‘Das Capital’ made waves throughout the world. Marx was born in Trier in 1818 in Brückengasse 10, and his birth house has been converted into a museum where visitors can find out more about Marx’s early life in Germany and the international influence of his ground-breaking work.
Visit the Imperial Baths
Emperor Augusta Treverorum built an impressive imperial bathing complex in the 4th century, and nowadays, travelers can still see large parts of its arched walls still standing. Roam around the bath’s subterranean tunnels and see what would have been an enormous bathing room that seated up to 650 people.
Germany’s Oldest Cathedral
The Trierer Dom or Dom St Peter is the oldest cathedral in Germany and was first built in the year 1270. The impressive cathedral is home to a vast collection of art, architecture, artifacts, and holy relics.
Stroll Around the Medieval Old Town
In the heart of Trier, you’ll find a quaint Medieval old town with a large market square in the middle. The square is encircled by historic townhouses that feature a mix of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Around the square, you can find shops, bars, and restaurants, plus see Germany’s oldest market cross, which dates back to the 10th century.
Explore the City’s Jewish Quarter
In the Jewish Quarter of the city, there remain traces of Trier’s Jewish Community, which date back hundreds of years. Here, you’ll find ancient timber houses, winding alleyways, and bathhouses. The Jewish community was expelled from the city in the early 1400s before being allowed to return in the 1600s.
Visit Emperor Constantine’s Palace
Aula Palatina was constructed in the 4th century as an audience hall for Emperor Constantine’s palace. The hall is enormous, at around 108 feet in height by 219 feet in length. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the hall passed through the hands of various Medieval bishops who modified the building, meaning it has been well-preserved throughout history.
Find Out More at the Archaeological Museum
The Rheinisches Landesmuseum, or Archaeological Museum, is home to an incredible collection of Roman coins, alongside hundreds of ancient artifacts. It’s home to the largest Roman coin collection in the world, with over 2,600 coins in total. There are also Roman mosaics, burial monuments, and ancient household items on display.
Check out the five best castles in Germany if you’re looking to further your history fix during the trip.