Trier, considered Germany’s oldest city, was founded in the 4th century BC by the Celts before being taken over by the Holy Roman Empire who renamed it Augusta Treverorum (city of Agustus). It was the seat of Emperor Constantine and is extremely unique today, as it still contains a handful of Roman ruins that you can visit, walk through, and explore. What I find so unique about Trier, is that you can see the Roman influence, the French influence, and the Germanic influence scattered across the city’s landscape. Plus, you can easily walk to all the major hot-spots throughout the city with ease. After my visit to Trier, I am eager to share with you the most unique things I saw while there, most of which are fantastic archaeological finds, my favorite kind of history to explore! So, without further ado, here’s my list of the most unique things to see while in Trier.
The Imperial Baths
Hands down, my favorite part of visiting Trier was getting to explore the ruins of the Roman Imperial Baths. Just a short distance away from the Throne room of Emperor Constantine, you’ll find these gorgeous ruins. While one looming wall is still intact and does look pretty impressive, what I think makes these ruins, in particular, so unique is that you can explore the subterranean passageways that were there to heat up the baths in ancient times.
You can actually go underground and walk through the relatively massive tunnel structure that exists on that site. There are also places around this incredible sight that offer a unique peek into the excavation, as well. In other words, it’s an archeologist’s dream!
Seat of Emperor Constantine
Konstantin Basilika, or the Imperial Throne Room of Emperor Constantine, is the largest single room to still be standing since ancient times that isn’t supported by columns. Seeing as how this structure was built in 310 AD, that’s pretty impressive. Let me tell you firsthand, this throne room is HUGE!
And there’s something special about being able to say that you spent time in Emperor Constantine’s throne room. When I was there, I was lucky enough to be completely alone in this giant structure which really emphasized just how massive and impressive it truly was.
Built by the Holy Roman Empire in the 2nd Century AD, Porta Nigra (meaning Black Gate) is Trier’s main landmark. And it’s quite an impressive one at that. It towers above the landscape of Trier right in the heart of the city. Honestly, there’s no way you can miss it whether you are walking or driving by in your car.
The coolest part about this ruin is that, while you can just drive or walk by and admire its impressive structure, you can go inside and see it in greater detail, as well. Not only does it have a fantastic view from the top, but the details carved into the inner-workings of the structure are truly unique and breathtaking.
Something unique that was continually mentioned to me as I traveled through Germany is that the history of Southern Germany was relatively Protestant for a long time, though, of course, the Catholic rule came in and out. So, many churches were divided into two sections so the Protestants and the Catholics could convene for church- in the same church- just not together. The two impressive church structures here are two churches in one.
They are two separate and impressive cathedrals connected by a gorgeous, peaceful courtyard. So, when you come, be sure to check out the Trier Cathedral as well as the Church of Our Lady, both in the same body yet separated.
Karl Marx House
While I honestly don’t think I could tell you much about Karl Marx (though I do remember his representation in Animal Farm), nor am I particularly a fan of his, per say, I do have to say that a visit to the Karl Marx House in Trier is a must. Naturally, the museum rests in the place of the revolutionary’s birth and discusses his humble origins, his life’s journey, and the details of his work. While it does seem like an ode to communism at times (or at least to Marx’s ideas of communism), it is also a beautiful artistic place that impressed me as an artist. The very modern displays are painted and drawn on the walls in a way that is both informative and appealing. It seems to be an ode to modern art as much as it is a historical museum. It’s definitely worth the gander if you’re in Trier.
Perhaps my second favorite location to visit in Trier was the old Roman Amphitheater dating back to the 1st century AD. You can stand in the arena, itself, and get an amazing full view of the space from a gladiator’s perspective, you can climb up to the top of the structure and see the full ruin in one glorious space, you can go within the cages and tunnels around the stadium seating, and you can go visit the aqueducts underneath. It was an archaeological marvel and really a spectacular place to see. Honestly, if you are there on your own, you can feel the energy of what it used to be like there, getting the full picture of the bloody gladiator fights, the animal baiting, and the executions. There was so much energy in that spot. While it may not be the best place for empaths, it was so beautiful, I just couldn’t look away. I felt transported back in time, and that’s why I loved it so much.
All in all, Trier has so many wonderful things to see, but it’s rich encompassing history is so present that it can’t be overlooked. So, I hope you make it out to Trier. And when you do, please definitely take the time to visit all of those unique locations I mentioned above.