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Trier: The , viewed from outside
Trier: The Porta Nigra, viewed from outside

Trier (French: Trèves), is Germany's oldest city. It is situated on the western bank of the Moselle River in a valley between low vine-covered hills of ruddy sandstone. It is located in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate near the German border with Luxembourg. Trier had around 100,000 inhabitants at the end of 2002. There is also an important wine-growing-region nearby: Mosel-Saar-Ruwer.



The Romans under Julius Caesar subdued the Celtic Treverans in 58 to 50 BC. When the Roman provinces in Germany were reorganised in 16 BC, Augustus decided that Trier, then called Augusta Treverorum, should become the regional capital. From 259 to 274 Trier was the capital of the break away Gallic Empire. Later for a few years (383 - 388) it was the capital of Magnus Maximus, who ruled most of the western Empire.

Sacked by Attila in 451, it passed to the Franks in 463, to Lorraine in 843, to Germany in 870, and back to Lorraine in 895, and was finally united to Germany by the Emperor Henry I. The Archbishop of Trier was, as chancellor of Burgundy, one of the electors of the empire, a right which originated in the 12th or 13th century, and which continued till the French Revolution. The last elector removed to Koblenz in 1786; and Treves was the capital of the French department of Sarre from 1794 till 1814, after which time it belonged to Prussia.


The city is well known for its well-preserved Roman buildings, among them the Porta Nigra, the best preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps, a complete amphitheatre, ruins of several Roman baths, and the huge Basilica, a basilica in the original Roman sense, being the 67m-length throne hall of Roman Emperor Constantine; it is today used as a Protestant church.


Trier is the oldest seat of a Christian bishop in Germany. In the Middle Ages, the Archbishop of Trier was an important ecclesiastical prince, controlling land from the French border to the Rhine. He was also one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire.

Trier is also the birthplace of the influential philosopher Karl Marx. The Karl-Marx-Haus is situated in the house where he was born. It was opened in 1947 and renovated in 1983.

Established in Trier is the University of Trier, founded 1483, closed 1796 and started again in 1970.

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