Trier: Rome of the North

By Megan Hulshizer

Records dating back to 16 BC make Trier possibly the oldest city in Germany. In front of the Red House, there is a plaque with the inscription: ANTE ROMAM TREVERIS STETIT ANNIS MILLE TRECENTIS. PERSTET ET AETERNA PACE FRUATUR (“Before Rome, Trier stood for 1300 years. May it stand on and enjoy eternal peace”). Seems pretty sassy to me. There’s a ton of history in this gorgeous city, so Eric and I took an afternoon to explore Roman ruins on a beautiful Saturday with gelato in hand.

First we walked through the gardens to see the Electoral Palace, built in the 1600s. Behind the palace stands the Constantine Basilica, which is the “largest surviving unsupported room in antiquity.” It is now a Protestant church, but used to be Constantine’s throne room. They hold music events inside, which we were unable to stick around for because it was dinner time, but the huge hall was quite the sight to behold. Eric has been shooshed out before by an angry German woman before, so that’s probably the best historical event in all of Trier.

We kept wandering north toward the Trier Cathedral, which was built on top of Roman ruins in 1035. It has beautiful stained glass windows and a hodgepodge architecture that reminds me of the Hogwarts Castle.

From the Cathedral it’s a short walk west to the main square which was having a market day on Saturday, with many stalls set up with flowers, fruits and vegetables, along with crowds of tourists. We were not the only ones taking advantages of the perfect weather.

Just up the street (past the many gelato shops) is the Porta Nigra. The Porta Nigra was built in 180 AD and served as the north gate to the city. You are able to go inside and wander up and up for a small fee (even smaller with my student ID!). From the top, visitors can see the Cathedral and the main square. While we were there, a band was playing old classic rock hits in a nearby garden, so it was quite the juxtaposition to be in an ancient Roman gate with Eric Clapton as a soundtrack.

Of course it was time for gelato, so we stopped on our way to the Karl Marx Museum – he was born in Trier in the early 1800s. It was past closing time but Eric may have spontaneously combusted if we went inside the home of The Communist Manifesto anyway.

Through winding streets we came to the Roman Bridge – the oldest bridge in Germany which miraculously has survived since 144 AD. On our way back to the car, we also stopped at the Barbara Baths, ancient Roman baths which were fed by the Moselle River and had hot and cold baths. I also caught a Pokemon here, and Eric laughed at me.

It was time to get home to Caitlin and the pets for dinner so we had to leave the beautiful city of Trier behind. But it would be easy to spend at least the whole weekend walking around, checking out Roman ruins, and eating endless gelato.

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