8 Top Tourist Attractions in Trier & Easy Day Trips
Trier, Germany's oldest town, can trace its roots back some 16,000 years. Tucked in a basin in the Mosel valley, it has, for centuries, been an important place of trade and commerce. Standing testament to this fact are the many impressive Roman remains found here, most notably the spectacular Porta Nigra, a fortified gate in the Roman town walls dating from the 2nd century. One of Germany's western-most cities - it's close to the border with Luxembourg - Trier is a popular place from which to explore the lovely Mosel area, with many excursion vessels offering tours as far as the Saarland region.
See also: Where to Stay in Trier
1 Porta Nigra
Dominating the north entrance to the old town of Trier stands the massive Porta Nigra (Black Gate), a fortified gate in the Roman town walls. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was built at the end of the 2nd century and was later turned into a church, only to be converted back to its Roman appearance by Napoleon. Today, its centuries-old, age-blackened stones are a must-see. If possible, plan to see the structure as part of an informative one-hour guided tour (usually led by a costumed centurion). Tours sell out quickly, so try to book in advance online.
Address: Liebfrauenplatz 5, 55116 Mainz
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Trier
2 High Cathedral of Saint Peter
The huge High Cathedral of Saint Peter (Trierer Dom) can trace its foundations to the 4th century, making it one of the oldest churches in Germany. Much of what is seen today was constructed in the 11th and 12th centuries and was fully restored in 1974. Highlights include its magnificent monuments from the 16th to the 18th centuries; its rich Treasury (home to the 10th-century portable St. Andrew's Altar, one of the great masterpieces of Ottonian art); and the skull of Emperor Constantine's mother, St. Helena. Also of interest is the adjoining Church of Our Lady (Liebfrauenkirche) dating from 1270, along with St. Paulinus' Church, built in 1754 with notable ceiling paintings by Thomas.
Address: Liebfrauenstrasse 12, 54290 Trier
3 Aula Palatina
The Aula Palatina, or Konstantin-Basilika, is a Roman basilica built in the time of Emperor Constantine (he resided in Trier from 306 to 312 AD) that rivals the cathedral for dominance of the city's skyline. Fully restored and now serving as a Protestant church, the building boasts the world's largest ancient hall, Constantine's Throne Room, measuring 67 meters long, 27 meters wide, and 33 meters high. For a truly memorable experience, try to visit during one of its frequent concerts. Also of interest is the adjoining Electoral Palace (Kurfürstliches Palais). Built in the 17th century and now used by local government offices, its courtyard, staircase, and Baroque room are open to the public during business hours.
Address: Konstantinplatz 10, D-54290 Trier
4 Karl Marx House
The birthplace of Karl Marx (he was born in Trier in 1818) has been a museum outlining the history of Communism and the famous German's life and writings since 1947. Highlights include exhibits detailing the rise of Communism and its social impact in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and Asia (the museum is particularly popular among Chinese tourists). Audio and guided tours are available upon request. Also worth a visit are this old Baroque property's lovely gardens.
Address: Brückenstraße 10, D-54290 Trier
A short walk from the Porta Nigra - and a great place to break up your sightseeing with a stop at a café or restaurant - is the city's beautiful old Market Square, or Hauptmarkt. In addition to its numerous lovely half-timbered buildings, it's where you'll find many fine old medieval attractions, including the 15th-century Steipe, home to the city's banqueting house. Other highlights include the Late Gothic St. Gangolf's Church as well as the spectacular Market Fountain, built in 1595 and depicting St. Peter surrounded by the four virtues of Justice, Strength, Temperance, and Wisdom, as well as a few mocking monsters.
6 Archeological Museum
Widely regarded as Germany's most important archeology museum, the Archeological Museum (Rheinisches Landesmuseum) documents some 200,000 years of the region's history from prehistoric times to the beginning of the 19th century. Among its collection of more than 4,500 artifacts are a large number of Roman mosaics, ancient stone burials, and the largest hoard of Roman gold coins ever discovered. Audio and guided tours are available.
Address: Weimarer Allee 1, 54290 Trier
7 Roman Imperial Baths
South of the Trier Electoral Palace are the ruins of the Roman Imperial Baths, or Kaiserthermen. Dating from the 4th century, the structure was converted into a fortified castle in medieval times. Despite this, much of the original Roman baths - the largest in Europe from this period - can still be seen. Highlights of a visit include exploring the extensive complex of underground rooms and passages, as well as a visit to the vast hot-water bath, once heated by six huge boilers. Fun guided tours led by costumed staff are available. Also of interest are the Forum Baths, dating from 100 AD with two hot-water baths, a perfectly preserved cold-water bath, and a museum. Another Roman site worth visiting is the Amphitheater just outside the old city walls and built around 100 AD with seating for 25,000.
Address: Weber Bachstr 41, 54290 Trier
8 The Palace Garden
In the grounds of the Electoral Palace, the Baroque Palace Garden is framed by the palace and the massive basilica on one side. Highlights include a number of quaint ponds and fountains, and neat flower beds surrounded by beech hedges of various heights. A miniature garden is also open to the public. An easy walk away is the Imperial Baths, as well as a café at the neighboring Archeological Museum that offers great views over this large green space. Other public spaces worth visiting are Nell's Park, on the northern outskirts of the city, and the Mosel Embankment adjacent to the river, home to pleasant walkways, excursion boat docks, and an enclave of old fishermen's homes, many of them now restaurants, galleries, and shops.
Where to Stay in Trier for Sightseeing
We recommend these great hotels in Trier near the city's top sites:
- Park Plaza Trier: 4.5-star hotel, heart of the city, wonderful staff, modern decor, wellness area.
- Ibis Styles Trier: mid-range pricing, fresh decor, Roman theme, free breakfast.
- Mercure Hotel Trier Porta Nigra: affordable rates, opposite Porta Nigra, restaurant with city views, tea and coffee makers.
- Hotel Feilen Wolff: budget hotel, across the river from the city, free breakfast, clean rooms.
Day Trips from Trier
Konz, Igel, and Nennig: Further Roman Influences
Given its location on the beautiful Mosel River, Trier makes a wonderful springboard for day trips into the surrounding countryside. Highlights include a visit to Konz, at the junction of the Saar with the Mosel and just eight kilometers southwest of Trier. Konz is famous for its open-air museum, Roscheider Hof, with its displays of traditional German culture. Also worthy of a visit is the quaint village of Igel, a further kilometer south of Konz and famous for the Igel Column, a funerary monument standing 22 meters high with richly-carved decoration that once belonged to a Gallo-Roman family in the 3rd century. More Roman architecture awaits at Nennig, 40 kilometers southwest of Trier by way of Saarburg and Remich. Here, you'll see the remains of a Roman villa discovered in 1852. Its stunning mosaic pavement, measuring ten meters by 16 meters, is one of the largest and finest north of the Alps.