Last Stop in Germany: UNESCO-Packed Trier

Last Stop in Germany: UNESCO-Packed Trier
Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.
-Karl Marx, philosopher born in Trier

Founded in 17 BC by the Romans, Trier is Germany's oldest city and is located in the southwestern part of the country near the Luxembourg (as well as Belgian and French) border.  The quaint car-free downtown is packed with traditional German timber-frame buildings, towering churches, and winding alleys.  There is plenty to do without spending a small fortune or being overwhelmed with other tourists in this small city, as it is blessed with a staggering nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Barbara Baths, Porta Nigra, the Imperial Baths, the Ampitheatre, the Basilica of Constantine, the Roman Bridge, the Igel Column, Trier Cathedral and the Church of Our Lady.  (So, for people like myself whose life goals include visiting as many UNESCO sites as possible --out of 1,052-- Trier is a must-visit.)  Eight of the UNESCO sites are in the Trier downtown city center, and the Igel Column (Igeler Säule) is about 5 miles (9 km) out of town.  But unrelated to UNESCO and relating to more recent history, Trier is the birthplace of philosopher Karl Marx and his beautiful Baroque home is now a museum in the heart of historic downtown.  (Quick note:  Also in Trier are Villa Otrang and Klause Kastel, Roman sites outside of the city center and unfortunately closed for the winter season.)


Porta Nigra

Roman city gate & Trier's landmark.


Roman Imperial Throne Room (Konstantin-Basilika)

Now a Protestant church; a wing of the beautiful roccoco Kurfürstliches Palais was built on top of the ruins in the late 1700s and this wing was removed in the 19th century to allow for the Roman ruins to be rebuilt (this makes for quite the unique juxtaposition of buildings). 


Church of Our Lady & Cathedral (Trierer Dom und Liebfrauenkirche)

Double church complex of Roman origin.


Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen)

Vast ruins & part of the palace district from Late Antiquity.


Barbara Baths (Barbarathermen)

Monumental spa complex & former "oasis of wellness"; unique for having not one but two large warm baths; built in the 2nd half of the 2nd century and the 2nd largest public bath in the Roman Empire.


Roman Bridge (Römerbrücke)

Constructed during Trier's foundation in 17 BC & still in use today.



Roman gladiator arena with a mysterious underworld.


Museum Karl-Marx-Haus

This circa 1727 Baroque home provided the basis of a comfortable middle class life to young Karl Marx, who was born there in 1818.  The house stood inconspicuously until 1904, when it was "rediscovered" as the birthplace of Marx.  In 1928, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany purchased the home and restored it to its former Baroque glory.  The Nazis seized the building in 1933, the SPD opened it to the public in 1947, and now the house is maintained by a foundation.  It was fascinating to learn about Marx and the people he influenced with his labour movement ideals.  And as nice as the house is, Marx unfortunately had to leave it behind as he was forced into political exile (and poverty) after the 1848 revolutions.  The lovely gardens in the back were updated in 2013.


Thermen am Viehmarkt

Site of archaeological excavation that casts light on the city's history; not a UNESCO site but an interesting visit in the middle of the city.


St. Paulin-Kirche

Plain but colorful on the outside, this gorgeous Baroque church was constructed between 1734 and 1753, and its painted ceiling in the nave is magnificent.


Notable downtown buildings