The Trip
Bad Ems
Bad Kreuznach
Abtei St. Hildegard  Lennep  Remagen/Linz

Tracing Roman Germania 2002
Tracing Roman Germania 2003 in the works
Ancient Rome as seen in the year 2001

Porta Nigra gates, click here for more

Start here with the picture show...


Update December 2008: All pages originally linked from the Universität Trier website have disappeared into cyberspace after the website has been restructured, and I've been told they are not being brought back. Luckily, Jona Lendering at just has added his own pages which I am now linking below. There is an Introduction, and excellent photos too; updates are in the works. He also points to another article on LacusCurtius, Roman Trier. And I found a travel website Sacred Sites and Religious Places in Germany which has links to various sites in Trier. The website of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum has also been totally revised, and unfortunately, an excellent "vitual tour" has disappeared.

photo of inscription below

So says the inscription on the Red House at the Main Market. Trier calls itself the oldest city in Germany, which may or may not be true, but it is certainly one of the oldest.

coin of Diocletian, go here for text
Doug Smith
: Diocletian, AE Pre-Reform Antoninianus, Siscia mint

The Treveri settled there before the Roman city was founded in 16 BCE. Considering the various locations of the Roman monuments, its size must have been impressive: already in 41 CE, Pomponius Mela called it “urbs opulentissima.” The emperor Claudius raised the city to a colony and named it Colonia Augusta Treverorum. The 2nd century wall around the city had 47 towers and four fortified gates plus a fifth gate through the amphitheatre. Diocletian made Trier the capital of the Western Empire, which comprised Gaul, the two Germanic provinces, and Britannia. It was the residence of his co-regents Maximianus Herculius and Constantius I Chlorus, and of Constantius' son Constantine the Great, who kept Trier as his principal residence for some years. Roman emperors resided in Trier on and off until 392 CE. By all accounts, Augusta Treverorum must have been a splendid city! And excavations in 1987/88 show that another large Roman bath existed in the center of town, under today's Viehmarkt.

The medieval town was quite a bit smaller.

The cityscape is a mix of ancient, middle age, baroque and later. It went through many periods of raids and destructions. So much for "pax æterna". The last happening in WWII. Many of the buildings destroyed then have been restored, see photos.

It's a busy city. Though not large, it is the shopping hub of the region, and of course the tourist industry is big. I stayed at the Ramada Hotel in the Kaiserstrasse next to the Europahalle, with a back exit to the old town, so one is right in the middle of it. It's a pleasure strolling through the old town and discovering something interesting around almost every corner. I'm sure I did see only a fraction of what's there. There is also the Karl Marx House & Museum to visit – he was born here – and a toy museum.

The old town is ringed by the Roman monuments: the Porta Nigra, the Basilika, the Kaiserthermen (Imperial Baths), Barbarathermen (Barbara Baths), and, a little outside, the Amphitheatre, and of course the Römerbrücke, the Roman Bridge across the Mosel River – there were two originally. Next to the Imperial Baths is the Rheinisches Landesmuseum (Regional Museum) which has a great Gallo-Roman inventory.

In the center are the Hauptmarkt (Great or Main Market), the Dom (St. Peters Cathedral), which has parts dating back to early Christianity under Rome, and its twin Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), and the St. Gangolf Church. I recommend visiting the second floor of the Conditorei (Patisserie) Weimer on the Grabenstrasse, off the Main Market. Take the elevator, go through the café onto the terrace, and relax with some nice pastries or ice cream and enjoy the view of the cathedral.

There is also the Kleine Judenpforte (minor Jewish Gate), one of the entrances to the ancient Jewish Quarter. Jews in Trier have been documented as far back as 1066 A.D. It was a thriving quarter in the Middle Ages, until the Jew were expulsed in 1418 from the town and the Electoral State.

Now to the Roman Era:

I also found these old photos and drawings on a site from the University of Erlangen: Topographie, Deutschland (Trier).

I did not get to it, but here is some information about the Amphitheatre. It was built in 100 CE and is, untypically, constructed mostly of earthen walls.

The Barbara Baths, near the still existing Roman Bridge, were the third largest in the antique world – or so my guidebook says. Named after the suburb of St. Barbara, they were used as quarries after 1600, so only the foundations are left, see photos. Go to Topographie and look at the 16th and 17th century drawings to get a better idea how impressive they were.

The Constantine Basilica, aula palatina, the Audience Hall, is part of an imperial palace which Constantine the Great built around 300 CE. It underwent many metamorphoses, and finally was restored by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia and has been used as a Protestant church since. After damages in 1944, it underwent further expert reconstruction. The interior is really grand. Here are some photos.

The ruins of the Imperial Baths remain impressive too! The baths themselves were never completed, but would have been an extraordinary structure. From materials excavated, the South Apsis wall has been reconstructed to some extent, and nowadays serves as background for an outdoor theatre festival. This year's Antique Theatre Festival was just about to start, as you can see from the stage being built in my photos. I'm sorry I missed it, on the other hand, it would probably have been difficult to get a hotel room.

The 2nd century Porta Nigra (and here), see also my photos, with its two gateways is an awesome structure! If you really want to experience its impact, go through the pedestrian underpath across to the Paulinstrasse and view it from there. And here is a view from the ground floor inside to give you an impression about how it was constructed. That the structure largely survived we have to thank a man by the name of Simeon, a Greek from Syracuse, who lived in it for several years and prevented metal and stone thieves from tearing it down. After his death he became St. Simeon, and a monastery was founded in his honor and the Porta transformed into a twin church. Take a look at Caspar Merian's engraving from 1670. Napoleon ordered the destruction of all non-Roman parts, but the monastery and the cloisters still exist next to the Porta. It now houses the Municipal Museum.

The Römerbrücke's pillars of basalt stone still are part of the old structure, see photos.

And last but not least, there is the Regional Museum. Here is the official website: RHEINISCHES LANDESMUSEUM TRIER. (Note: Since my visit in 1999 the mueum has undergone major renovations.) The museum's collections of the Gallo-Roman department are beautifully arranged. The exhibit of the magnificent funerary monuments is laid out as a roadside cemetery. Several tower tombs have been reconstructed. The most famous tombs come from the Moselle town of Neumagen-Drohn (Noviomagus), the two wine boats and The School – at least 40 large pieces of funerary monuments have been found in Neumagen between 1879 and 1967! There is also an excellent coin exhibit, the Münzkabinett, but its small and shows a fraction only of the museum holdings of about 160,000 antique coins (Treveri and Roman) and about 50,000 medieval and modern coins. There were several local mints during Roman times, and many finds were made over the years, as late as 1993, when a treasure of 2570 gold coins in bronze vessels was discovered; 1994 another find was made near the bridge of about 36,000 coins which were probably donations to the River God when crossing the bridge. There was also a nice special exhibition about Gallo-Roman religion. I took a picture of the goddess Sirona, consort of Apollo Grannus.

And here are photos of my walk through the museum as it was in 1999.

© Irene B. Hahn 1999

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