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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Bates

The Roman Ruins of Trier

Updated: Feb 17

On one of our travels across Germany, Olga and I were fortunate enough to do a day trip to the town of Trier in the Rhineland-Palatinate region (near the Luxembourg border). The reason we came here was the history of the town and to check out the ruins of buildings from the past. Not just Germanic history but the town has a lot of Roman heritage. Founded in 16BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus the city was known as Augusta Treverorum and  the Romans lasted a long time until the 5th century when Germanic  tribes came along and destroyed the city. Since then Trier has never been the same but somehow some of the Roman buildings survived and as part of my road trip to the Ardennes, we had to check them out. Another fact about Trier is that the legend of Karl Marx was born here but that’s enough about him (we don't really want to go down the road and explain who he is and what he is famous for but kinda started the communist ideology), here’s our top places to check out.

A view of Trier from the Porta Nigra
A view of the city from Porta Nigra

Porta Nigra

On the eastern side of the centre is the town gate called Porta Nigra (in Latin means ‘Black Gate’ because of the coloured-weathered stone), and has stood here since the 2nd century. The Roman Gate is the biggest one in the former empire north of the Alps and used to have a church right next to it but when French warlord Napoleon came through town, he simply dissolved it. The gate is a two-storey building so when walking round checking out the place, we had to navigate the bricked staircase which can be slippery in places. At the top level, the best view is of the main street down below which leads to the centre of town where there are church spires and other rooftops which make the view worth checking out. The gate can be seen for a small fee and there is no need to book in advance.

Aula Palatina

One building which really stands out in the center of town is the exterior walls of the Aula Palatina (German: Konstantin-Basilika) which used to serve as the throne hall during the Roman Times before the Germanic tribes came in and destroyed it with their bare hands (ok, that may have not happened but we know they would have use weapons to destroy the building). A few centuries later it was converted into a tower so that the local archbishop could live in it and then was used as an army barracks when Napoleon came to town. The day we went the building was closed but we did get a chance to walk around it, check out its grand size and sat beside the moat next to it and had a chill out moment.

Aula Palatina, Trier
Aula Palatina


On the outskirts of the center, a little bit of a walk but worth the hassle is the amphitheater. Back in the good old days, animal contests and gladiatorial fights would take place here to entertain the well off locals. In its heyday the amphitheater would hold around 20,000 people but looking at it now, we think it would be lucky if 4,000 people could sit on the grassy banks around it. Also nearby to the ruins of the Barbaratherme, the ancient Roman baths but didn’t get the chance to go there as it had just closed up for the day (we are very good at timekeeping, honest!)

Away from the Roman buildings…

Trier is actually a pleasant town to walk around. Surrounded by the hills on the outskirts of the Ardennes, the main place to hit up is undoubtedly the market square (Hauptmarkt) which is one of the most beautiful squares we have come across in Germany. On one corner of the square is the Cathedral of St Peter and is the oldest in Germany dating back to the 4th century whilst next to the building is the Liebfrauenkirche (English: Church of Our Dear Lady), which was built in the 13th century and is one of the first Gothic-looking churches in the country.

Along the cobble streets of the center and other beautiful churches to take a look at (and don’t forget a walk along the River Mosel nearby), Trier is certainly one of the towns which truly surprised me in Germany. We came here basically because we needed gas for my car as part of a road trip around the Ardennes. In the end we spent the rest of my day here to check out the Roman buildings/ruins and the quirky cafes and drinking places. We seriously recommend anyone coming here if anyone is interested in Roman history and stunning beautiful towns. 

Other bits worth knowing about Trier are:

The founder of socialism was born in the city, Karl Marx. If you love this sort of stuff, then head to the Karl Marx house where visitors can learn about his life, his writing and socialist ideology.

Trier is in the heart of the Mosel Valley and in this area produces a lot of wine.Most common wines are the Rieslings (dry and sweet) and for the red wine lovers, then Dornfelder is the one to try. Because of this, there are plenty of wine bars to choose from in the city centre. 

Porta Nigra, Trier
Porta Nigra, Trier

Essential information      

How to get to Trier: By road, Trier lies off the Autobahn 64 which leads to Luxembourg in the west and connects with Autobahn 1 which goes towards the north and Koblenz and Saarbrucken to the south.

By train: Trier isn’t exactly on the main intercity routes but does have regional train services to Saarbrucken, Homburg and international services to Luxembourg which has connections for Brussels in Belgium. The great thing about the train station (Hauptbahnhof), is that it is located in the heart of the city centre and all the sights, accommodations etc are within walking distance.

By air: the nearest international airport is actually in Luxembourg city otherwise it would have to be Frankfurt Hahn airport to the east for flights with Ryanair and other regional airlines. 

Accommodation: There are a lot of accommodation options and a lot of websites which can do some great deals. My first point of call is always and can offer a range of hostels, hotels, campsites, apartments, guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and they can also be booked up on my website (just go to the right hand side of the screen). After that I always have a look through AirBnb for great deals on apartments and other lodgings especially when traveling as a family.

Currency: Germany uses the Euro currency and there are plenty of ATM machines in Potsdam centre as well as currency exchanges nearby or in Berlin itself. Everywhere accepts credit and debit cards as well. Just check on what rates your bank will offer or for hidden fees.

Language: It’s Germany, so its German (Deutsch). However a lot of the younger people do speak English for international business.

Flying into this area? Then I would recommend using Skyscanner to find flights as that is my first point of call. Then if necessary use the airlines directly to find a good deal. I sometimes use Momondo as well to compare prices before booking.

Travel insurance: Need insurance? Safety Wing offers coverage for a lot of adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and so forth. I never travel without travel insurance. I highly recommend them for those who need travel insurance.

Need a visa for Germany? Always check if you need a visa when coming to Germany, especially for those who come from outside Europe. If your a citizen of a European Union country or EEC, you do not need a visa as Germany is part of the Schengen zone.

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Please note that while I was not working with any company based in Trier, my review and experiences written about in this post are 100% genuine. I value my readers too much to lie to you. My blog would be nothing without you and your continued support! There maybe some links above which are affiliate and are at no additional cost to you. If my readers use them, I earn a commission to buy their products and remember, I only mentioned products and companies I use. The income from this keeps this website going. Thank you.

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