A cloudy day in Trier – Roman and medieval heritage

Sunday and our 13th day in Germany. For the first time after two weeks I hear rain splashing. Today is a good day to visit Trier with its museums and churches. We take the train from Schweich to Trier and arrive in the city center without having to look for a parking lot and pay for it… good idea, Ursula.

Trier has already been a Celtic settlement. Then it was the capital of the Roman Provinces of Gaul, called Trevorum. Already around 250 AD it had its first bishop. In the German Empire it became the seat of one of the migthy archbishops that elected the emperor (Erzbischof and Kurfürst).


Roman times in Trier: Porta Nigra, Roman baths and Nero

The Porta Nigra is this “black gate”.


Somehow it is like coming home for me – I have seen this gate with my mum, when I was 15 years old.

The gate has been built for representation, not for fighting, somewhat like a triumphal arch. I learn that the Porta Nigra only survived, because Saint Simeon decided to live in this gate. Later Napoleon prevented his troops from destroying the Porta Nigra.

The Kaiserthermen or Imperial Baths are being renovated.


When constructing a park house under the Viehmarkt in the late 80-ies, Roman baths and a medieval monastery were found. This is now an underground museum, covered by a glass cubus. The ruins are numbered and well explained on the museum map. These are the remains of the Roman swimming pool.


The underground ruins give an interesting contrast to the upperworld life on the Viehmarkt.



Currently three museums tell the story of Nero. We visit the historical analysis of his life in the Landesrheinisches Museum. Great exhibition. Nero has been adopted by emperor Claudius that had married his mother Agrippina. He now was the oldest son of the emperor and succeeded Claudius, when he was 16 (in 54 AD). Well educated by the philosopher Seneca, he was a good emperor for about five years, modernizing Rome and providing games to the people. They liked him. Then he more and more showed, what we remember him for: He killed his mother and his first two wives, he accused the Christians to have set fire to Rome – and killed many of them, and he devoted more and more time to carriage racing, writing poems, singing and acting. After having spent 16 months in Greece (somewhat like a sabbatical), the senate forced him to resign and he commited suicide. He was 31 years old then. Though the senate tried to erase him from the memories of history, he is one of the emperors that is best remembered today. The exhibition about Nero is well curated, even at times with injections of humour.


Medieval churches with Roman roots

The Liebfrauenkirche is one of the first gothic churches in Germany, built on the foundations of a Roman palace.


The cathedral, just next to it, has been built integrating Roman foundations from the 4th century.


Both the cathedral and the Liebfrauenkirche share the cloister.


Not far from the complex of the cathedral and the Liebfrauenkirche there is the old basilica of Constantine, built in 315 AD.


Inside it is a beautiful church – its simplicity invites to pray.



Strolling through the city center with medieval houses and more

The old city center of Trier is charming.


This is the tower house “Dreikönigenhaus”. The “real” old door is far above the ground and can only be reached with a ladder. (The door on ground level has been added later).


This is a beautiful house with MacDonalds inside… the “M” has been kept “modestly” small.


Old and new meet one another – such as this rokoko building next to a Kebab restaurant in a half-timbered house.


Karl Marx is a son of Trier. The house, in which he was born, is now a museum.


Not far from here we find this travel agency…


and this hairdresser that I may not consider for cutting my hair (“Kopfsalat” is German for butterhead lettuce. The literal translation would be “head salad”).


Klein Florenz (Small Florence) is also not far.


In my memories from 50 years ago, Trier was primarily a town with remains from Roman times. Now, I am impressed, how the Roman foundations have been kept and integrated later (such as in the cathedral or the Roman Baths at the Viehmarkt). I also liked, how well kept the medieval city is and lives today. And I have learnt that with Karl Marx being born here, Trier (in a way) was the origin of the socialist and communist movements.


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