The City of Trier

Short History of Germany’s Oldest City

Ante Romam Treveris Stetit Annis Mille Trecentis - "Trier existed 1,300 years before Rome." The "Red House" near the Hauptmarkt (Market) bears this inscription. Although this is medieval fiction, it has historical relevance. Human Settlements from as early as 3rd Millennium B.C. are known to have existed in the Trier valley and Trier was the first place north of the Alps to justly bear the name "town".

About 16 B.C. when Augustus was Emperor, the Romans founded AUGUSTA TREVERORUM - later named TRIER - near a tribal sanctuary of the Celtic Treveri. By the end of the 3rd century A.D. the Emperor Diokletian made Trier both the capital of the western part of the Roman Empire and an imperial residence. Trier also became a center of early Christianity at that time. In the 5th century A.D. the Germanic tribes, called Franks, conquered Trier, and when the Carolingian Empire was divided in 870, Trier became part of the East Frankish-German Empire.

The Market Cross dating from 958 marks the market place and the center of medieval Trier. In the 13th century, the Archbishop of Trier became one of the electors of the German Kings. From this time until the turn of the 19th century, Trier experienced periods of great prosperity and also great decline. In the time of Napoleon, Trier was a part of France, but after 1815 it became part of Prussia. Since 1945, Trier is part of the Federal State "Rheinland-Pfalz" in the Federal Republic of Germany.

city of trier
city of trier

Trier today

Trier is capital of the Regierungsbezirk Trier (District administration), and a Diocesan city. It is also the centre of culture, trade and economy for the larger Trier county. It has a harbour on the Moselle, is a seat of important industries such as wine-growing and wine trade. There are also ample opportunities for shopping, conferences, and tourists. Its population is about 100,000.
Trier lies only 10 km from the Luxembourg border, 50 km from the french and 65 km from the belgian border. As for recreational facilities, it offers among other things stadiums, sport grounds, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, squash-, badminton- and tennis courts, riding stables, jogging tracks, and an ice-skating rink. There are also music societies and choirs, concerts ranging from classical to modern music, local festivities and wine festivals, numerous wineries, markets and fairs, and last but not least, Trier is a region with parks, woods, rivers and lakes and great hiking paths.
The city has a great offer of leisure activities and other daily matters.
- Foods can be bought in every part of town. There are also many specialized shops, e.g. for Asian or organic food.
- In the city center there are enough opportunities to go window -shopping.
- Anybody who is interested will find concerts of all kinds, theatres or cinemas in town.
- There are lots of banks, post offices and many doctors and pharmacies in town.
- In the city hall, things like your registration, fees for TV, your visa etc. are processed.


Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra is the best preserved Roman town gate north of the Alps. It stands for an uncomparable connection between the antique past and today's modern city. The construction consists of a central block with two passages which is flanked by a tower on each side. On the landside, the towers are semicircular salient to avoid the blind angle in state of defense. The towers have four storeys to the outside and are higher than the central block. Half way up the windowless ground floor of the two towers, doorways lead to the town wall's parapet. The central block has only two upper floors and encloses a yard which was locked by a portcullis on the landside.


In the second half of the 2nd century the construction of the Porta Nigra begun. Originally, the heavy sandstone blocks were put together without mortar and the whole construction was held by its permanent weight. Earlier the blocks were held together by iron clamps in a led dowelled joint. In the medieval times metal was scarce and they were quarried out. Deep scars remained in the stonework. The construction of the gate has never been completed.

The gate with its palatial architecture is not only the city's landmark but rather a powerful symbol of the encounter of Romans, Celts and the Germanic tribes. The arterial road to the Rhine in the Germanic provinces went through the gate. From the town side the north-south-main road, the cardo maximus, opened out, which still lives on in the course of the present Simeonstraße.

Hauptmarkt (Principal Market)

In the year 985 the city of Trier received market rights. The principal market became the centre of medieval Trier. It comprises the Steipe, the city council's festive home and the pillory (reconstructed and displaced to the southern corner of the market)


The Imperial Thermae are not far from the Amphitheater at the edge of the Palace Garden, they are a Roman bath confining the imperial palace in the south. It ranks among the biggest in the Roman Empire. Around 460 AD. the building was altered by the Emperor Valentinian I., in the northeast a small bathing-house was attached to the former warm water bath (caldarium).

Of the construction, which has been 250 m long in the past, only the eastern part of the stonework of the warm water bath has been preserved to a greater extent. Layers of limestone alternating with horizontal bands of brick are characteristic for the Roman stonework with the casted core.
On the principal axis from East to West there is the warm water bath, the round hall of the warm air bath (tepidarium), the cold water bath (frigidarium) and finally the gym area (palaestra) surrounded by pump rooms strung together. On both sides of the principal axis there were rooms for clothes deposits, cleaning and massage.


The Amphitheater was already built in 100 AD and has a capacity of 20.000 spectators. This is considered as proof that Trier has been a large city by this time.

city of trier
city of trier