Trier, historically called in English Treves, is a city in Germany on the banks of the Moselle. It is the oldest city in Germany, founded in or before 16 BC. Trier lies in a valley between low vine-covered hills of ruddy sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg and within the important Mosel wine region.
The city is the oldest seat of a Christian bishop north of the Alps. In the Middle Ages, the Archbishop of Trier was an important prince of the church, as the Archbishopric of Trier controlled land from the French border to the Rhine. The Archbishop also had great significance as one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire.
"Thirteen hundred years before Rome, Trier stood / may it stand on and enjoy eternal peace, amen," reflects the proud city tradition. Further embroidery in the monkish Gesta made of Trebeta the son of Ninus, a "King of Assyria" imagined by the ancient Greeks, by a wife prior to his marriage to the equally non-historical Queen Semiramis. His stepmother, Semiramis, despised him and when she took over the kingdom after the death of his father, Ninus, Trebeta left Assyria and went to Europe. After wandering for a time, he led a group of colonizers to the site of Trier. Upon his death, his body was cremated on Petrisberg by the people of Trier. The image of "Trebeta" became an icon of the city during the Middle Ages.
In historical time, the Roman Empire subdued the Treveri in the 1st century BC and established Augusta Treverorum (Lit: August (Regal, noble) [City] of the Treveri) in 30 BC. The name is likely to be taken from the title Augustus held by the Princeps or head of state at the time, Augustus Caesar. The city later became the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Belgica, as well as the Roman prefecture of Gaul. It covered 282 ha within its walls and may have had as many as 70,000 inhabitants. The Porta Nigra is counted among the Roman architecture of the city. A residence of the Western Roman Emperor, Roman Trier was the birthplace of Saint Ambrose. Sometime between 395 and 418 the Roman administration moved the staff of Pretorian Prefecture from the city to Arles. The city continued to be inhabited, but was not as prosperous as before, because of the absence of 2,000 staff members of the Prefecture and military. However, the city remained the seat of a governor and had state factories for the production of ballistae and armor, and a wool mill for uniforms for the troops, clothing for the civil service and high-quality garments for the Court. Northern Gaul was held by the Romans along a line from north of Cologne to the coast at Boulogne through what is today southern Belgium until 460. South of this line, Roman control was firm, as evidenced by the continuing operation of the imperial arms factory at Amiens.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, Trier was sought after by France, who invaded during the Thirty Years' War, the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the Spanish Succession, and the War of the Polish Succession. France succeeded in finally claiming Trier in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars, and the electoral archbishopric was dissolved. After the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, Trier passed to the Kingdom of Prussia. Karl Marx was born in the city in 1818.
In June 1940 over 60,000 British prisoners of war, captured at Dunkirk and Northern France, were marched to Trier, which became a staging post for British soldiers headed for German prisoner-of-war camps. Trier was heavily bombed and bombarded in 1944 during World War II. The city became part of the new state of Rhineland-Palatinate after the war. The university, dissolved in 1797, was restarted in the 1970s, while the Cathedral of Trier was reopened in 1974. Trier officially celebrated its 2,000th anniversary in 1984.
- The Cathedral of Saint Peter is the oldest cathedral in Germany. The edifice is notable for its extremely long life span under multiple different eras each contributing some elements to its design, including the center of the main chapel being made of Roman brick laid under the direction of Saint Helen, resulting in a cathedral added on to gradually rather than rebuilt in different eras. Its dimensions, 112.5 by 41 m, make it the largest church structure in Trier. Since 1986 it has been on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. The structure is raised upon the foundations of Roman buildings of Augusta Treverorum. Following the conversion of the Emperor Constantine the Bishop Maximin of Trier (329-346) coordinated the construction of the grandest ensemble of ecclesiastical structures in the West outside Rome: on a groundplan four times the area of the present cathedral no less than four basilicas, a baptistery and outbuildings were constructed; the four piers of the crossing formed the nucleus of the present structure. The fourth century structure was left in ruins by the Franks and rebuilt. Normans destroyed the structure again in 882. Under Bishop Egbert the Dom was restored once more.
- The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is a large Roman city gate in Trier. It is today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps and has been designated a World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened color of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta. The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
- St. Matthias' Abbey is a Benedictine monastery in Trier. The abbey church, a Romanesque basilica, is a renowned place of pilgrimage because of the tomb of Saint Matthias the Apostle, after whom the abbey is named, located here since the 12th century, and the only burial of an apostle in Germany and north of the Alps. The abbey was originally named after Saint Eucharius, first Bishop of Trier, whose tomb is in the crypt. The church has been given the status of a basilica minor.
- The Basilica of Constantine. or Aula Palatina, is a Roman palace basilica that was built by the emperor Constantine (306–337 AD) at the beginning of the 4th century.
Today it is owned and used as church by a congregation within the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland. The basilica contains the largest extant hall from antiquity ranked a World Heritage Site. The room has a length of 67 m, a width of 26.05 m and a height of 33 m. The Aula Palatina was built around 310 AD as a part of the palace complex. Originally it was not a free standing building, but had other smaller buildings (such as a forehall, an entrance vestibule and some service buildings) attached to it. The Aula Palatina was equipped with a floor and wall heating system (hypocaust). During the Middle Ages, it was used as the residence for the bishop of Trier. For that, the apse was redesigned into living quarters and pinnacles were added to the top of its walls. In the 17th century, the archbishop Lothar von Metternich constructed his palace just next to the Aula Palatina and incorporating it into his palace some major redesign was done. Later in the 19th century, Frederick William IV of Prussia ordered the building to be restored to its original Roman state, which was done under the supervision of the military architect Carl Schnitzler. In 1856, the Aula Palatina became a Protestant church. In 1944, the building burned due to an air raid of the allied forces during World War II. When it was repaired after the war, the historical inner decorations from the 19th century were not reconstructed, so that the brick walls are visible from the inside as well.
- The Roman Bridge is an ancient structure over the Mosel. It is the oldest standing bridge in the country. The nine bridge pillars date from the 2nd century AD. The upper part was renewed twice, in the early 12th and in the early 18th century, after suffering destruction in war.