Trier 2018

Suzie Eisfelder

Like Luxembourg it also has some Roman roots but in this case Trier was a key Roman village and it shows.

We’d needed to do laundry in Luxembourg but couldn’t find laundrette so had to do enough washing by hand to get by until Trier. I don’t recommend washing by hand unless you have a machine to do a quick spin, clothes take forever to dry. Due to this we started our visit to Trier by finding the laundrette, it didn’t look to be too much of a detour from the station to the hotel on the map but we were mostly walking over cobble stones and with a full suitcase that can take its toll on the body. But we got there, got the machine started and then took turns looking for food. Situated on Karl Marx Strasse, only a few metres from the Karl Marx Haus and only a little further to the food shops finding food was quite easy. By that stage my appetite was starting to drop and finding something small enough was the challenge. For your information, laundrettes in Germany are called Wasch Salons.

Let’s have a look at Trier.

Founded by the Celts in the fourth century BCE (BCE? Before Common Era) it was conquered by the Romans around three centuries later. There’s a chance it’s the oldest city in Germany. It became the capital of the Prefecture of the Gauls. If you want to see a Roman Baths then this is a very good place to visit. There are only three baths there and we saw all three of them. The Barbara Baths are self-guided and open to the public. They’ve created a bridge that wanders from one side to the other so you can look down and see the what and where, and with some plaques installed you get a really good idea of what a Roman Bath might have looked like.

The Trier Imperial Baths is a totally different proposition. They’re working on restoring it as much as they can. While we were at these Baths we noticed plants growing on the tops of the buildings and the tops of walls. This is deliberate, they noticed that old walls with plants growing at the top don’t disintegrate as much as walls without plants. It turns out the roots are a bit greedy with water. When water falls the plants suck up all the water via the roots and the water then doesn’t seep into the wall.

Anyway, back to the Trier Imperial Baths. You have to pay to get in and I presume the money then goes towards restoration. But you do get to wander around the grounds and read lots of information in three languages: German, French and English. I decided to stick to English. You can also wander around under ground and get away from the heat. But that involves some narrow corridors and being able to see where people bathed, where the attendants were able to wander around behind the scenes and also where the water might have been. We were able to see a children’s group being instructed by a monk. My German is nowhere near good enough but just listening to him was great fun, he was entertaining in whatever language.

Another thing we did was to wander into the old Roman amphitheater. It’s an amazing structure. The seats are almost all covered with grass but you can climb up the stairs and sit on a much newer seat. You get a really good view of the goings on within the bowl of the amphitheater itself. Having got up I then had conniptions and wasn’t able to walk down the same way as there were no handrails. We explored the back and found another way down which also took us underneath the mound we’d just been sitting on. You can also go into the bowels of the amphitheater itself, the behind the scenes part. They’re working on restoring and notating the bowels so you can have a self-guided tour but there’s a lot of work to do yet. I took a video which you can see here.  An amazing structure, it can hold 18,000 to 20,000 people.

The Porta Nigra. A building that’s been repurposed from one thing to another including a church. It even had its own hermit. St Simeon of Trier was walled into the church that had taken over the Porta Nigra, he stayed there for five years. They did feed him but I didn’t quite figure out how they got the food to him. Five years. Walled into a small room with nothing to do except pray.

Karl Marx was born in Trier in 1818. I’m sure you’ve vaguely heard of Karl Marx, the author of the Communist Manifesto. It’s not as if he started anything big… Anyway, the town was pretty excited to be celebrated 200 years since his birth. They issued a special Euro note to commemorate this special date. We bought several of them at a cost of three Euros each and they’re staying in the collection as they have a value of zero Euros! I also bought lots of pens for my friends at uni, I figured giving them all a Karl Marx pen was apt for writers. We managed to get a look at the graves of some of Marx’s ancestors, this is tricky as Jewish cemeteries in Germany are generally locked and you have to find out who has the key and arrange for them to come and open up for you. We were there for another reason and they took us to the other side of the cemetery for Marx’s ancestors.

We took a wander through the Karl Marx Haus. In order to do this we bought a ticket which let us into a number of tourist destinations. If you do enough of them it’s totally good value for money and we did all the ones on the ticket. This house (haus, but pronounced the same) is beautifully laid out. They brought in an artist who wrote some of the text on the walls with beautiful writing. Seeing this writing direct on the wall makes it feel more organic and less distant than just having plaques on the wall. They also have plaques and in some cases they had red string connecting the concepts or the names. It was great but we ran out of time and energy. That day we were really pushing to do as much as possible, we left the hotel around 9:30am and didn’t get back until after dinner, I think the only time we sat for any length of time was at dinner. My back aches just thinking about it.

So much more I could say about Trier but I won’t as I’m already over 1,000 words. I will probably finish up our Europe trip next week with a few words about Frankfurt. Although I still haven’t put up much about bookshops or libraries and I’ve got a fair few photos.

  1. I am loving reading your posts about your trip because I have been to many of these places and it is bringing back lots of amazing memories!

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