Founded as Augusta Treverorum in 16 BC during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar, Trier is Germany’s oldest city and an important site for classical monuments and art treasures. This can be seen at the Porta Nigra, the best-preserved city gate from antiquity and today the most famous landmark of this city on the banks of the Moselle.
Whether Augusta Treverorum or Novaesium – now better known as Trier and Neuss – is really Germany’s oldest city is still a matter of debate, but there is no doubt that the Romans designated Trier as a city rather than a settlement. Roman emperors and later bishops, electors and ordinary people have made Trier what it is today. World-class architectural monuments – many of which have had UNESCO World Heritage status since 1986 – and art treasures have been preserved and tell of fascinating times gone past. Porta Nigra, the amphitheatre, the famous Imperial Thermal Baths where the Romans went to relax, remnants of the St. Barbara Roman Baths from the 2nd century and, just as old, the Roman Bridge, which is still part of a main road into the city, all bear witness to Trier’s extensive classical heritage. Medieval buildings, such as the Cathedral of St. Peter – the oldest in Germany – and the early-Gothic Church of Our Lady are also deeply impressive. Trier’s proximity to its French neighbour is noticeable throughout the city, especially when it comes to eating and drinking. Outstanding restaurants of international standing offer an unparalleled dining experience. Excellent wines from the Moselle, Saar and Ruwer are of course very much in evidence and delight visitors to the many wine festivals and town celebrations. The annual highlight is the Moselle WeinKulturZeit, a month-long series of wine, gourmet and cultural events, where you can sample excellence of all kinds in and around Trier – a good reason to spend a whole month here.
Trier’s other historical sights include medieval Hauptmarkt square with the Steipe building, the Red House, St. Gangolf’s Church, the carved stone cross, St. Peter’s fountain and the nearby Judengasse lane, as well as the Benedictine Abbey of St. Matthew and the fortified residential towers such as the Frankenturm tower and Jerusalem tower. The Simeonstift museum is a good place to admire an impressive model of Trier, while the Rhenish State Museum contains historical finds from antiquity and mosaic floors. Although his followers have now dwindled in number, Karl Marx was one of the great German thinkers and philosophers. The Karl Marx House, where he was born, is worth a visit regardless of your ideological standpoint. Despite its intellectual and historical roots, Trier is a thoroughly young and vibrant city thanks to its two universities and strikes a wonderful, lively and appealing balance between its past and present. Shops, cafés, bars and bistros across the city invite visitors to stroll around or watch the world go by. A diverse mixture of music, cabaret and other entertainment is on offer at theatres, venues and trendy clubs, including TUFA, an events centre set in a disused textile factory that has gained a reputation throughout Germany. The centre was opened in November 1985 in the wake of the city’s 2,000-year celebrations and since then has provided a workshop and performance space for artists of all genres. Its self-declared aim is to serve as a cultural and communications centre for everyone. The good thing about that is that visitors to the city are also welcome.