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The Oldest City in Germany

A visit to Trier — the oldest town in Germany — is like taking a journey back to Roman times. Rome has its St. Peters; Trier has its basilica, the throne room of the Roman Emperor. Rome has its coliseum; Trier has the amphitheatre. ‘Roma Secunda’, the second Rome — that’s what the Romans called their metropolis north of the Alps. Today the mighty halls, thermal baths and theatres remind us of the relationship that once existed between the two cities. And just as the Romans did, the people of Trier have also made themselves at home among the historical monuments. Life is played out around the lively market place and in the heart of the picturesque ‘old town’. And there is nothing the people of Trier like better than to sit together in the old wine cellars built on Roman foundations, enjoying their Moselle wine.

1. Location of Trier in Germany

The city of Trier is located in the Moselle-Saar holiday region, approximately 68 km to the southwest of Frankfurt-Hahn Airport (see map on bottom of page).

The Moselle-Saar is one of the nine holiday regions of Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate. Of the Rhine's tributaries, the Moselle is considered the loveliest. Idyllic wine villages perched on steep, vine-clad slopes, and romantic little towns with a medieval feel, such as Cochem and Bernkastel-Kues, lend the Moselle valley its unique character. Trier, over 2,000 years old, is the oldest town in Germany and its stone relics dating back to Roman times have now been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. Come and discover for yourself the jovial hospitality of local Moselle people — and don't forget to treat yourself to a delicious glass of that famous local Riesling. ... read more about the Moselle-Saar holiday region

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2. Points of Interest

A visit to Trier — the oldest town in Germany — is like taking a journey back to Roman times. There is scarcely a stone that was not once part of a Roman wall, and scarcely a square from which there is no Roman architectural legacy to be admired. The Wine Town welcomes its guests with beautiful squares and inviting little wine bars.

Porta Nigra
The oldest Roman city gate north of the Alps and the symbol of the town. It was made from sandstone ashlars weighing up to six tonnes. The Porta Nigra is the best-preserved Roman town gate north of the Alps. Inside, visitors can see traces of a medieval double church. Wonderful views of Trier.
Visitors are enchanted by the Simeon's College courtyard which is surrounded by two-storey cloisters. The Municipal Museum with Coptic, medieval and early modern collections is located here. A restaurant in the courtyard invites you to enjoy this quiet oasis within the city.
This early Gothic tower with living quarters was built in 1230. For added security, the door was on the first floor.
The centre of both medieval and modern-day Trier. Colourful market stalls still crowd together around the stone market cross, which dates back to 958, surrounded on all sides by historic buildings.
Dom (Cathedral)
Built on the remains of the Roman walls, the cathedral, with its three crypts, cloisters, treasury and the ‘Heiltumskammer’ (holy relic chamber) features architecture and art stretching back over more than 1650 years. Because of its outstanding significance, the cathedral was listed as a UNEWSCO World Heritage Site.
Liebfrauenkirche (Church of our Lady)
Germany’s earliest Gothic church was built between 1235 and 1260 on the site of a Roman basilica.
The oldest parts of the house where Karl Marx was born date back to 1727. The courtyard buildings are from the Gothic era. Today the house is a museum and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's centre for critical historical Marx and Engels research.
Palais Kesselstatt
Baroque palace, built between 1740 and 1745 by Valentin Thomann.
Constantine Basilika
The former throne room of Emperor Constantine remains impressive to this day. It is the largest single room to be preserved from ancient times.
Kurfürstliches Palais (Electoral Palace)
The two wings of the Renaissance Palace form an impressive contrast to the simple basilica. A baroque south wing was added in the middle of the 18th century.
Palais Garden
Baroque garden art at the heart of the town with baroque figures, water features and idyllic little corners.
Kaiserthermen (Imperial Baths)
The most recent of Trier’s three Roman baths is one of the town’s main attractions. In the 4th century it was one of the biggest bathing complexes in the Roman Empire.
Forum Baths (Viehmarkt Thermen)
Where different eras converge: foundations of Roman baths can be seen next to medieval rubbish shafts and the cellars of a baroque monastery.
20,000 people used to pack the spectator benches of the Roman arena to see gladiator contests and wild animal fights. Today, the amphitheatre is the setting for the Antiquity Festivals.
When they were first built, the thermal baths were the second largest in the Roman empire. For centuries during the Middle Ages they were used as a quarry.
Roman Bridge
The oldest Roman bridge north of the Alps. The pillars are the Roman originals.
Harbour Cranes
To turn the cranes protruding from the roof, the over-sized wheels inside had to be turned by muscle power.
St. Matthias
Houses the relics of Apostle St. Matthias the Apostle as well as a reliquary in which part of Christ’s cross is kept.
11th century Romanesque residential tower.
St. Paulin's
Built according to plans by Balthasar Neumann. The interior contains impressive features such as the high altar.
Jesuit Church
13th century church and old university. Beneath the building lies the grave of Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld, opponent of the witch-hunts.
The picturesque part of the town with the collegiate church, town walls and houses was once the summer residence of Roman emperors and Trier electoral princes.
Rheinisches Landesmuseum
The Rhenish State Museum is the largest and best known museum in Trier. It has Germany's most comprehensive collection relating to the civilisation, economy, demographics, religion and art of the first four centuries AD.
Bischöfliches Dom und Diozesanmuseum
The Bishop's Museum offers a rich collection from the Early Christian era, the Middle Ages and the Early Modern era. The painted plaster ceiling reconstructed from thousands of fragments belonging to a room in a palace under the Trier Cathedral (4th century AD.) counts as one of the most important paintings from Late Antiquity. Also on display are numerous finds from Trier's Early Christian cemeteries and from the former bishop's church of Late Antiquity, Late Carolingian paintings from the Trier monastery St. Maximin's, statuary from the Early Gothic Church of Our Lady and much more.
Domschatzkammer (Cathedral Treasury)
Trier Cathedral Treasury has one of the most important collections of ecclesiastical art ranging from late antiquity into the 20th century, as well as precious medieval manuscripts and various liturgical vestments.

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3. City of Constantine the Great

Trier is the city of Emperor ‘Constantine the Great’ — the second Rome north of the Alps. In the basilica (Emperor Constantine's throne room) you can listen in wonderment to the organ music that floats around the breathtaking ceiling of the basilica for several seconds at a time. The dizzy heights of the mighty coffered ceiling stretch above your head. There are no columns and no decorative ornaments to interfere with the overwhelming impression of this whole room, the largest to be preserved from ancient times.

Outside the door there is a wealth of contrast. Outside, the south wing of the Electoral Palace, with its soft tones of rococo pink and decorated with putty embellished in gold, leans against the smooth rear stone wall of the basilica. It was not just the Romans that felt at home in Trier. Countless archbishops and electoral princes also built their churches and palaces in the city. And on the main market place, the lively centre of Trier, the citizens have kept themselves busy proving their architectural skills. Nestled close together, their homes have been built throughout the ages around the stone market cross. For 1,000 years the cross has stood here as a symbol of the peace at the market and, for just as long, it has been surrounded by colourful market stalls. Market women lay out piles of fruit and vegetables fresh from the fields as they have always done, while just next door the aroma of hot coffee emanates from behind the shade of blinds.

Not far away, there is another towering piece of Roman history — the Porta Nigra. Its stone blocks, arches and windows were first turned black by the mediaeval air pollution. However, it is still impressive. Even after 2,000 years, the size of the city gates gives an impression of how huge the Roman city must have once been, as does the amphitheatre where the Romans once gathered in their thousands. In the summer, the arena comes to life again and you can participate in the ancient festival plays along with the people of Trier.

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4. City full of Life in Historical Sights

Every pavement conceals a couple of Roman legacies, including of course the Trier cellars. These mediaeval vaults, frequently supported by Roman walls, are full of atmosphere. In front of the centuries-old stone you can expect to find galleries with paintings and sculptures, the Trier fried sausages steaming in the flickering candlelight and the wine sellers offering atmospheric wine-tasting surrounded by their wooden wine barrels. The historical sites on the level above are also full of life. They are full of echoing sounds all year round, as Trier has a wealth of acoustic spaces. In the cathedral, basilica and in the many churches, the voices of top-class choirs reverberate and the organ music weaves a web of tones that slowly unfolds and descends from the galleries. In the summer there are also the Roman ruins, where the Ancient World comes back to life in the arena of the ancient amphitheatre. And where there is music, art is never far away. The workshops of the European Academy of Fine Arts are housed in the halls of the former abattoir. Here, artists, students and amateurs artists can work on their talents and discover new ones.

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5. Events Finder

There is always something happening — whether it is art, music, wine festivals or a host of other activities. The Events Finder gives you an overview about what is on, where and when. Here you can search for events and festivals in the region.

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6. Hotel & Holiday Flat Finder

Here you have direct access to the online accommodation reservation service of the Tourist Board of Rhineland-Palatinate. No other hotel reservation system on the Internet offers you such a broad and comprehensive list of accommodation in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate regions. You can list accommodation, search accommodation, contact accommodation establishments and make online reservations.

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7. How to get there from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

7.1 By Rental Car

Google Maps: Route from (A) Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to (B) Trier
(68 km distance / 1:03 hours driving time) » get directions

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7.2 By Bus

Buses run from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to Trier.

Bus routes and timetables:

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Tourist Office Address

Trier Stadt und Land e. V.
An der Porta Nigra
54290 Trier

Tel.: +49 (0) 6 51 - 97 80 80
Fax: +49 (0) 6 51 - 97 80 876