Day 1 of spring break!  Our first stop was Trier, just a few hours away from home.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, warm and sunny, blue skies–a great start to the vacation.


Hotel in Trier

Driving into Trier on the way to the hotel, the Porta Nigra (Black Gate) suddenly loomed up in front of us.  Our hotel was literally right across the street from this huge Roman monument.

Trier is the oldest city in Germany.  It’s quite an attractive city and has a number of very old and relatively well preserved Roman ruins.  The oldest preserved building is the Amphitheater, which dates back to 100 A.D.  Trier’s Roman monuments, the Dom St. Peter (Cathedral of St Peter), and the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) are all on the list of World Heritage Sites.

The hotel was very nice, with a great view of the Porta Nigra out our window.  I’d definitely recommend the Trier Mercure Porta Nigra as a place to stay.

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (or Black Gate) dates from about 180 A.D. It's very large (90 feet high). Notably, the whole thing was made of sandstone blocks connected with iron rods--no mortar. The gate is still standing partly because of a monk named Simeon who walled himself up in the structure as a hermit in 1028. However, the two churches they built in his honor were torn down in the 1800s. Inside, you can still see traces of the churches, date inscriptions, and ostensibly Roman stone masons' marks. We got stuck inside for several minutes while they did a little production with some folks dressed up as Roman soldiers. One of them went up the stairs with a whole flood of people following--I think it's some sort of little tour with "character flourish." We didn't stick around, since we couldn't understand what they were saying anyway.

Thermen am Viehmarkt

The ruins of the "baths at the cattle market" date from around 100 A.D. They were found in 1987 during excavations for a parking garage. Apparently the remains were found underneath air-raid shelters from WWII, the remains of a 17th century monastery, former vineyards, and two old cemeteries. There are two hot-water baths, a cold-water bath, hollow-floor heating systems, sewer canals, and remnants of walls and deep foundations. The whole thing is protected under a very modern-looking glass building--an interesting contrast to the ruins.


The Kaiserthermen or Imperial Baths are the largest in Trier, in fact one of the largest in the world. This is an amazing sight; three stories above ground and two below, it included hot and cold water baths, three pools, six heating rooms, and an underground heating system. You can view the ruins of the bathing areas and also explore a vast labyrinth of tunnels. The tunnels were very chilly compared to the warmth of the day outside, but the outside area was beautiful.

Trier Amphitheater

The Amphitheater was a rather long walk from the other sights, but it's worth seeing. It could hold 20,000 spectators (maybe still can; I guess they do outdoor events there). We joked about paying to get into an amphitheater where nothing was even playing! You can go underneath into the cellars where they used to keep the prisoners and the animals before sending them in to get slaughtered.

Trier Churches

Trier Cathedral (Dom St Peter) is the oldest church in Germany. It still has a Roman central section with the original walls. The original church was much larger and covered the area where the Dom and Liebfrauenkirche now sit, plus a lot of the surrounding area as well. The Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Dear Lady) was built in the 13th century and is claimed to be the oldest Gothic church in Germany.

Various photos from Trier

Besides the Roman ruins and the churches, we saw various other sights in Trier. After the long walk that afternoon, we had dinner in the main city square at a cafe called the Ratskellar. Rebecca had Wienerschnitzel, of course. It was still warm, although it got cool as the sun sank. We sat outside and were treated to a lengthy (and rather loud) concert from the bells in the church, from 1745 to just before 1800.

All in all, a great start to spring break. Tomorrow, off to Holland!

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