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Guide to Trier, Germany

Germany’s oldest city, boasting an amazing array of Roman artifacts only second to Rome. A stunning city of history, infused with German and French tones

Trier, Germany is a medium-sized city along the western side of Germany, near the border with the country (technically, the Grand Duchy) of Luxembourg.  It’s located in a beautiful valley, surrounded by idyllic hills, and is part of the Moselle wine region of Germany.

Trier, Germany

Trier has a temperate climate consistent with its geographic location in Europe, with winters that aren’t overly harsh, and summers that are warm without being overly hot or oppressive (the average summertime high is 23-24° C (74-75° F).  

With numerous cultural and historic attractions, a picturesque setting, and old world charm amidst modern amenities and luxuries, it’s no wonder Trier is a popular tourist destination!

History of Trier, Germany

The history of Trier, like many European cities, could fill a small book in its own right.  Briefly, however, modern-day Trier had human settlements as early as several thousand BC.  It was founded as a city, to some extent, in the 4th century BC.

As the Roman Empire expanded and grew, it subdued the Celtic Treveri who had established a permanent settlement in the area, and created the “modern” city (as Augusta Treverorum) in 16 BC. 

It remained under Roman control, serving as an important government and production city, until the mid-400s, when it was taken by the Franks.

Ultimately, after a few hundred years, as part of Eastern Francia, it would once again become linked to Rome, as part of the Holy Roman Empire.  It was taken by France in the late 1700s, after numerous attempts during various wars and battles. 

By the early 1800s, with the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Trier was given to the Kingdom of Prussia, and, though some internal struggles occurred, it became part of the German Empire in 1871, which later evolved into modern-day Germany.

Today, Trier is an important city in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  It’s argued that it may be the oldest continually-inhabited city in Germany.  

Trier is home to a little over 100,000 people as of the last census, and is generally recognized as the fourth-largest city by population in Rhineland-Palatinate.

Places to See and Things to Do

Given its age, it’s not surprising that it is home to numerous historical sites and world heritage sites, along with exceptional examples of architecture, design, and culture from centuries gone by.  

Below, we’ll highlight some of these important and popular places to see and things to do in Trier.  We’ll specifically look at the many museums of Trier separately in greater detail in the next section, too.

    • The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Trier, which encompasses several early Roman architectural examples that are still standing. This includes the Porta Nigra city gate, Roman Trier Amphitheater, a 2nd century Roman bridge, the ruins of three Roman baths, the Aula Palatina (Basilica of Constantine), Igel Column, the earliest Gothic church called Liebfrauenkirche or Church of Our Lady, and the Cathedral of St. Peter in Trier.
    • The Trier Electoral Palace, which dates to the 1500s.
    • Matthias’ Abbey, a monastery that is still in active use today.
    • Two preserved examples of the 1400s and 1700s harbor cranes.
    • Paulinus’ Church, considered one of the most important Baroque-era churches in the region.
    • Numerous old-world-style marketplaces and examples of historical architecture, including the Hauptmarkt, Judenpforte am Marktplatz, and numerous buildings and locations throughout the city that make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time.

Museums

The city of Trier is also home to many museums and cultural attractions that span many different topics and interests.  These include:

  • The Roman history and archaeological museum known as the Rheinische Landesmuseum Trier.
  • The Domschatzkammer, or Treasury of the Trier Cathedral, is home to many important religious artifacts, manuscripts, and objects dating to the Middle Ages.
  • Stadtmuseum Simeonstift highlights the history of the city of Trier.
  • The Karl Marx House is a museum of the influential philosopher Karl Marx, who was a native of Trier, and includes many of his early works. He was born in the house in 1818.
  • The Toy Museum of Trier, fun for the whole family.
  • Mining has played a large role in the region’s history, so the Fell Exhibition Slate Mine is worth a visit, including an underground mine, museum, and slate mining trail.

Check out the other towns and cities you can see on the Viking river cruises City of lights and Swiss Alps itinerary highlights

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