History of Trier

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Porta Nigra
Porta Nigra

[ source: Wikipedia]

If the thought of fine German wines and ancient Roman ruins excite you, then the first stop on your tour of Germany should be Trier (Trier vacation rentals | Trier travel guide). Nestled in the midst of the wine-growing region along the Moselle River, Trier is the oldest city in Germany. Its history reaches far back into the shadows of antiquity, but according to the Gesta Treverorum, a collection of histories and legends about the city of Trier maintained between the 12th and 18th centuries, the first settlement on this site was founded by Trebeta, an exiled Assyrian prince, around 2000 BC. In later years, the area was occupied by the Treveri, a tribe of Gauls, who were eventually defeated by the Romans around 30 BC. The Romans then established a city by the name of Augusta Treverorum ca. 16 BC. The city eventually became the capital of the Roman province of Gallica Belgica and the Roman prefecture of Gaul.

Trier is sometimes called the "second Rome." This nickname comes from the decision by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 293 to make Trier an imperial residence and the capital city of the Western Roman Empire. In 306, Emperor Constantine the Great decided to completely restructure the city, after which point the famed Constantine Basilica was constructed. After Constantine's death, the subsequent three emperors lived in Trier. The Roman history of Trier is still evident in the physical structure of the city; the modern streets are aligned along the routes of the roads built in the 2nd century. In 459, the Franks captured Trier from the Romans.

Trier also has very long ties to the history of Roman Catholicism in Germany. St. Ambrose, a major church father from the 4th century, was born and grew up in Trier. The city is also considered the oldest seat of a Christian bishop north of the Alps. During the 1600s and 1700s, France sought repeatedly to capture Trier, which it finally did in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1815, the city was transferred to Prussia. Three years later, Karl Marx was born in Trier.

The history of Trier during the 20th century hinges on the events of World War II. In June 1940, 60,000 British soldiers captured at Dunkirk and in Northern France were marched to Trier. Henceforth, the city functioned as a staging post for British soldiers being sent to German POW camps. In 1944, the city was heavily bombed, requiring significant reconstruction after the war.

Despite the war damage, the city still possesses numerous structures and sites tied to the long and varied history of Trier. The most prominent ones include: the Porta Nigra (186-200 AD), which is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps and a World Heritage Site; the ruins of three Roman baths, one of which is the largest Roman bath north of the Alps; the Constantine Basilica, the palace basilica and throne room of the Emperor Constantine; a Roman amphitheater; and the Trier Cathedral, which also dates to Roman times.

[ source: wikipedia.org ]

About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Matthiasstr. 85, 54290 Trier, Germany

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