Originally built by Emperor Constantine in 326, Trier Cathedral is the oldest church in Germany. The handsome Romanesque building houses plenty of historic art, an excellent treasury, and an important relic that still receives many pilgrims: the Holy Robe of Christ.
Facts & Stats
- Best Known As
- Trier Cathedral
- Full Name
- Trier Cathedral
- Also Known As
Dom St PeterDom zu TrierTrierer Dom
49.756221° N, 6.643821° E (map)
Christmas Market and Snowy Sightseeing in Trier
We had a nice time in Trier. It has lots of ancient Roman stuff, an old cathedral, great museums, a good Christmas market, and it snowed throughout the day. Unfortunately, the snow did not fall in big, slow flakes, but tiny icy flakes that seemed to drive straight into our faces no matter which direction we were walking. But it was beautiful! Here are some photographic highlights.
Park Plaza Hotel
Our hotel was just OK, but had a good location near the cathedral.
This beautiful cloister is next door to the cathedral, connected with a Gothic church called the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Dear Lady). It was especially lovely in the snow.
I've lucked out with the snow twice now - here's me in the same place in similar weather back in December 2005!
The "Black Gate" was built around 200 AD as part of the ancient Roman wall. It was later used by a Christian hermit and then turned into a church, but the church bit has since been removed again. It's pretty awesome and you can go inside.
This was built in 310 AD by the Emperor Constantine, whose giant statue we visited in Rome. It was a civic building; a throne hall as a part of a palace complex. Similar basilicas were built in the forum in Rome, but they are in ruins - this one is the only surviving example, as far as I know. It is now being used as a Protestant church.
Across the pretty palace garden from the Constantine Basilica are the Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen), also built in the era of Constantine.
There was some good food at the Christmas market as usual (see waffle above), but the real culinary highlight of Trier was a trip to Kartoffel Kiste, which David and I discovered on a previous trip. It's a restaurant that specializes in potatoes! Is that a good idea or what?
This is not health food, my friends. And it tastes better than it looks. It's called Kartoffelauflaufe Hawaii, and consists of scalloped potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce, topped with really good ham and lots of pineapple, and probably more cheese, then baked. Sarah had a schnitzel over a layer of potatoes, in the same cheese sauce, also baked. It was seriously awesome as well.
And now we are in Utrecht, where it reached a high of 20 degrees Fahrenheit today. Brrrr! Tomorrow we move on to Amsterdam, just a half-hour away.
Sunset on Trier Cathedral
Happy New Year! On January 2 we drove down to Trier, which is southwest of us and close to the Luxembourg border. We have been there before (during a 2005 Christmas trip), but we missed a few things and it deserved a repeat trip with better cameras. And the weather forecast was clear and sunny, though it turned out more like partly cloudy. And cold - barely above freezing. Still, we had a very nice time!
We started out at St. Matthias' Abbey, which is on the southern outskirts of the city beyond walking distance. (But buses go there from the center, and there's a free car park across the street.)
The abbey church was interesting, with some nice Romanesque architecture and the reputed relics of Saint Matthias, the apostle chosen to replace Judas. There's a marble effigy of Matthias at the front of the church, with his bare feet charmingly sticking out of his robes, and his relics are in a small stone sarcophagus in the crypt.
Then we found parking in the city center, in an underground garage by the Konstantin Basilika - a Roman throne hall built in 310 and used by Constantine (he became emperor in 312). It is now used as a Protestant church. Sadly it was locked so we didn't get to see the inside again.
We made a stop for roasted chestnuts in the main square, and the vendor was really fun. David stepped back to take a picture of him and he immediately took off his hat, wet down his hair with licked fingers, and told another customer to get out of the way. (But we like this photo best.) He also sang as he stirred.
We revisited the cathedral, its treasury, and its cloisters, all of which were as interesting as we remembered. I think I enjoyed it more this time because now I appreciate Romanesque architecture a lot more. Last time I was focused entirely on the connections with Constantine (of which not much remains).
View from the cloisters of a Gothic church next door. The part with the dome on the right is a Baroque chapel that houses the relic of the Holy Robe, supposedly the one worn by Christ at the Crucifixion.
For fun, here I am walking in the same cloister two years ago.
Next we searched out the Diocesan Museum back behind the cathedral. This was one of the sights I was sorry I missed last time and turned out to be one of the greatest highlights of our trip. We had the place entirely to ourselves AND we were allowed to take pictures!
The pride of the museum and the main attraction for us was a set of Roman frescoes that were discovered beneath the cathedral. They once adorned the ceiling of the imperial palace, where Constantine's mother lived. They had fallen onto the ground in 70,000 pieces and were painstakingly put back together like a puzzle. (Incidentally they sell a puzzle of the frescoes and we almost bought one.)
From there it was on to the Porta Nigra before it got dark. This is a huge Roman gate that was saved from destruction thanks to a monk named St. Simeon moving in and its later transformation into a church and monastery.
We checked out the Stiftsmuseum (Monastery Museum) next door, but it was both more expensive and less impressive than the other museum.
By that time the sun was down and it was time to find dinner. Amazingly, it was the first time we've eaten out in Germany since we've lived here, and we knew exactly what we wanted - the same restaurant we ate at last time we were in Trier. It's called Kartoffel Kiste and has a menu centered around delicious potato dishes.
We both had KartoffelauflÃ¤ufe, which is essentially potatoes *au gratin* but better than any we've ever had. The potatoes are cooked perfectly, the creamy sauce is divine. I had Kartoffelauflaufe "Hawaii" (pronounced "have-EYE") and David had his with chicken and broccoli. They were to die for! And certainly also to die *of*, if you have them on a regular basis.
The rest of the week has been uneventful, except that we have a couple new additions to the camera family! We bit the bullet and bought the next-level Canon (40D) and a 50mm prime lens. The big advantage of both is that they perform better in low light, which we have had trouble with lately in dark churches.
Today we took the new toys over to the Schwarzrheindorf Double Church and tried them out on the murals. They did GREAT! I'm thrilled. I'll post a few photos from today's trip when I get a chance.
- Official Website of Trier Cathedral. Official source.