Trier offers ancient beauty.
My family’s last stop on our small tour of Germany was Trier. My parents had previously visited the town and wanted to take me for our own special day. This town is probably one of the most beautiful places in Europe I’ve been to. We stumbled across a gorgeous, hidden cathedral that definitely made the trip worthwhile. We started off our day just walking through the streets. Luckily, there are underground parking garages on nearly every block, so there is always parking no matter what side of the city you want to start on. The best thing about parking in the German towns is that there are censors on every spot in the garage, so there is an accurate number of open spaces listed on every parking garage sign. Additionally, instead of having to drive up and down every row searching for an open spot, there is a great system in the garages. Simply look for a green light above a space, and you’ll know it’s open! Red lights mean the spot is taken, and blue lights mean there’s an empty handicapped spot. Simply take a peak down the row and you’ll already know what’s open. Grab a big map from in the garage, make your way to the ground level and start your adventure in Trier!
Trier is full of markets, restaurants and shops of all sorts, so be sure to bring plenty of Euro. There are countless stands selling fresh fruit and vegetables, souvenirs, clothing and even hand-made jewelry. Once you’ve had your fill of shopping, the real adventures begin with the more historical parts of Trier. My favorites: Porta Nigra (the Black Gate) and the Cathedral of Trier. Trier used to be part of the Roman empire and also used to be under the rule of Constantine, and the impacts of Roman culture are still visible today. The Porta Nigra sits on one side of the town and used to act as a gate into Trier. Porta Nigra is one of four Roman gates still standing and was named for the color of the stone it was made from. For a few Euros, you are able to climb inside the Porta Nigra. Although it’s a long climb and the gate is amazing to look at from the outside, the inside is even better. There are four main levels of the gate and it’s great to see the different functions of each level. The ground level was very empty with windows extremely high off the ground and nothing but a stone pillar in the center of the room. This space was most likely used to hold prisoners or captives who tried to pass through the gate. The following levels are labeled with their functions: some used to be planning rooms, others the site of religious programs. In each level, you are also able to peak out of the windows, which makes for a great photo-op if anyone chose to remain outside the gate.
However, my favorite thing about the gate was a little square I came across inside a window on the top level, which you can see in the picture to the left. Inside the square is a rendering of what you would be able to see out of that same window during Roman times. If you look closely, you can see the Roman architecture of Trier and little citizens walking about the grass. Outside of the square is the town of Trier as it appears today. The square is translucent, so you are able to line it up with the bottom of the window and really get a sense of how the town used to be thousands of years ago. Literally seeing history in front of your face is such an interesting experience, and another reason to climb to the top of Porta Nigra. My other favorite part about Trier was the cathedral slightly hidden to the right of the market space. Even if you are not a religious person, the Cathedral of Trier is definitely something I recommend visiting. Inside the cathedral are countless statues, mostly chiseled from smooth marble.
The most interesting thing about this cathedral is what was inside. Past the gate featured in the picture to the right is what is believed to be the Robe of Christ, sealed in an air-conditioned tomb. Additionally, this cathedral is home to one of the nails used during the Crucifixion. Aside from amazing religious relics, the cathedral is just beautiful to explore. The railings on the staircases may seem like plain steel, but if you look closely you’ll notice that they’re actually carved to look like a giant snake. There are stained glass windows in a circular room that depict the stages of the cross and are surrounded by countless bouquets of flowers. At the top of the ceiling in the cathedral is a gigantic pipe organ. If you want to hear it being played, simply come back during any of the regularly-scheduled masses and see it for yourself.
Walk through the great stone doors to your right and enter a gorgeous courtyard. Full of cloisters, statues, graves and gardens, this area is simply another place full of wonder. Walk around the halls and learn about the cathedral, or simply take a moment of silence for those buried in the yard. Whatever you chose, your experience in the Cathedral of Trier is sure to be memorable. When you’re tired of walking for the day, there are so many great places to grab a bite to eat. I recommend eating at an outside restaurant along the main road. Chow down on some Germany cuisine with an ancient Roman gate on your left-hand side and a gigantic marketplace on your right. If it’s a nice, hot day, don’t forget to grab some gelato on the walk back to the car! The Oreo gelato is my favorite, giving you the creamy flavor with a hint of chocolate. The Cathedral of Trier and the Porta Nigra are just two of the many things you can visit in Trier. For a full list of places, visit gogermany.about.com for more information and ideas! Need help planning your own vacation? There are people in Montclair who are willing to help! Broad Vistas Travel, located on Church Street in Montclair, is one travel agency that is sure to get you to your most-desired location, so start planning your getaway today!
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