• Danik Bates

The Roman Ruins of Trier

Updated: May 7

On one of our travels across Germany, we were fortunate enough to do a day trip to the town of Trier in the Rhineland-Palatinate region (near the Luxembourg border). The reason we came here was the history of the town and to check out the ruins of buildings from the past. Not just Germanic history but the town has a lot of Roman heritage. Founded in 16BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus the city was known as Augusta Treverorum and the Romans lasted a long time until the 5th century when Germanic tribes came along and destroyed the city. Since then Trier has never been the same but somehow some of the Roman buildings survived and as part of my road trip to the Ardennes, we had to check them out. Another fact about Trier is that the legend of Karl Marx was born here but that’s enough about him (we don't really want to go down the road and explain who he is and what he is famous for but kinda started the communist ideology), here’s our top places to check out.

Porta Nigra


On the eastern side of the centre is the town gate called Porta Nigra (in Latin means ‘Black Gate’ because of the coloured-weathered stone), and has stood here since the 2nd century. The Roman Gate is the biggest one in the former empire north of the Alps and used to have a church right next to it but when French warlord Napoleon came through town, he simply dissolved it. The gate is a two-storey building so when walking round checking out the place, we had to navigate the bricked staircase which can be slippery in places. At the top level, the best view is of the main street down below which leads to the centre of town where there are church spires and other rooftops which make the view worth checking out. The gate can be seen for a small fee and there is no need to book in advance.




Aula Palatina


One building which really stands out in the center of town is the exterior walls of the Aula Palatina (German: Konstantin-Basilika) which used to serve as the throne hall during the Roman Times before the Germanic tribes came in and destroyed it with their bare hands (ok, that may have not happened but we know they would have use weapons to destroy the building). A few centuries later it was converted into a tower so that the local archbishop could live in it and then was used as an army barracks when Napoleon came to town. The day we went the building was closed but we did get a chance to walk around it, check out its grand size and sat beside the moat next to it and had a chill out moment.

Amphitheater


On the outskirts of the center, a little bit of a walk but worth the hassle is the amphitheater. Back in the good old days, animal contests and gladiatorial fights would take place here to entertain the well off locals. In its heyday the amphitheater would hold around 20,000 people but looking at it now, we think it would be lucky if 4,000 people could sit on the grassy banks around it. Also nearby to the ruins of the Barbaratherme, the ancient Roman baths but didn’t get the chance to go there as it had just closed up for the day (we are very good at timekeeping, honest!)


Away from the Roman buildings…


Trier is actually a pleasant town to walk around. Surrounded by the hills on the outskirts of the Ardennes, the main place to hit up is undoubtedly the market square (Hauptmarkt) which is one of the most beautiful squares we have come across in Germany. On one corner of the square is the Cathedral of St Peter and is the oldest in Germany dating back to the 4th century whilst next to the building is the Liebfrauenkirche (English: Church of Our Dear Lady), which was built in the 13th century and is one of the first Gothic-looking churches in the country.






Along the cobble streets of the center and other beautiful churches to take a look at (and don’t forget a walk along the River Mosel nearby), Trier is certainly one of the towns which truly surprised me in Germany. We came here basically because we needed gas for my car as part of a road trip around the Ardennes. In the end we spent the rest of my day here to check out the Roman buildings/ruins and the quirky cafes and drinking places. We seriously recommend anyone coming here if anyone is interested in Roman history and stunning beautiful towns.


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