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City Portrait Trier

DW staff (nak)November 25, 2004

"Roma Secunda," the second Rome: That's what Trier was called during the second and third centuries. Anyone visiting the city today will literally stumble over traces of ancient history at nearly every corner.

"Porta Nigra" is the Roman gate into the city of TrierImage: Stadt Trier

Trier is the oldest city in Germany. Roman Emperor Augustus established "Augusta Treverorum" in the year 16 BC. These days, the citiy's 2,000-year-old history attracts masses of tourists.

Until the fifth century, Trier was the capital of the West-Roman Empire. As a result, the remaining buildings are monumental: The amphitheater, which accommodated 30,000 people, the extensive thermal springs, the north gate of the Roman city wall -- today's Porta Nigra -- and the enormous hall of the basilica, which became a royal residence after the conquest by the Franconians.

Dom und Liebfrauen in Trier
Trier was not damaged during World War TwoImage: Stadt Trier

The ancient Trier was a large, pulsating city and a center of trade with road and river connections to all regions of Europe.

From metropolis to province

After the departure of the Romans, the city became one of the most important ecclesiastical and secular centers. The archbishops of Trier were also princes: They elected the emperor and played an important role in political decisions during imperial assemblies.

Traces of their power and influence can be found in the elaborate places of worship and the city's Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo palaces.

Steipe in Trier Markt
The main market place forms Trier's city centerImage: Stadt Trier

After the French Revolutionary Wars, Trier became the district city of the Rhine province, far away from the Prussian center of government in Berlin.

The 19th century industrial boom, which ensured an upswing almost everywhere, failed to arrive in Trier -- the necessary conditions were missing.

Its lack of industrial infrastructure proved to be an advantage for Trier in the 20th century as it did not become a target for Allied destruction during the two world wars. The historical buildings that remain draw thousands of tourists each years.

Trier's famous son

Portrait von Karl Marx
Karl Marx was born in Trier in 1818Image: AP

Many visitors also stop by the Karl Marx house on Brückenstrasse. Marx, the founder of scientific socialism was born here in 1818.

After his high school graduation, Marx left Trier to explore the world. In Berlin, Cologne, Paris, Brussels and London he studied and furthered his political and journalistic activities. Today, Marx's house of birth on Brückenstrasse is used as a research center and museum.