Trier Cathedral Trier, Germany

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.

West Facade at Sunset
Holly Hayes All Images »

Facts & Stats

Best Known As
Trier Cathedral
Full Name
Trier Cathedral
Also Known As
Dom St Peter
Dom zu Trier
Trierer Dom
49.756221° N, 6.643821° E  (map)

Contact Info



Untitled Event Trier Cathedral
Untitled Event Trier Cathedral
Untitled Event Trier Cathedral
Untitled Event Trier Cathedral
Exposition of the Holy Robe Trier Cathedral
Untitled Event Trier Cathedral

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.

Christmas Market

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Park Plaza Hotel

Our hotel was just OK, but had a good location near the cathedral.

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Trier Cathedral

Choral performance on Sunday night

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Gothic Cloister

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.

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I've lucked out with the snow twice now - here's me in the same place in similar weather back in December 2005!

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Porta Nigra

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.

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Constantine Basilica

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.

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A frilly pink Baroque palace has replaced Constantine's ancient palace next door, but it does look a little fairy-tale-like in the snow.

Imperial Baths

Across the pretty palace garden from the Constantine Basilica are the Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen), also built in the era of Constantine.

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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?

It was a cold walk there, but worth it.

We also got to have Gluhwein without standing around in the cold at a Christmas market, which is a bonus.

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.

st. matthias abbey, trier Exterior

st. matthias abbey, trier Interior, with effigy of Matthias

st. matthias abbey, trier A roof boss on the ceiling of the nave, showing a bishop with the churches he built

st. matthias abbey, trier Tomb of Matthias 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.

konstantin basilika (aula palatina), trier This was a secular building used by Roman rulers, but was highly influential in the design of churches (the first of which were commissioned by Constantine).

konstantin basilika (aula palatina), trier Attached to the south end of the basilica is this pink Baroque palace.

trier 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).

trier cathedral View of the cathedral from next to the Konstantin Basilika.

trier cathedral View from the west. Most of this was complete by 1035, and thankfully was undamaged in the war.

trier cathedral 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.

trier cathedral Interior, looking east to the Holy Robe chapel

romanesque art, trier cathedral romanesque art, trier cathedral Wonderful details from the Romanesque tomb of Ivo (1144), a papal envoy.

romanesque art, trier cathedral romanesque art, trier cathedral A fine Romanesque tympanum over the south door (on the inside), featuring Mary, Christ and St. Peter.

trier cathedral Baroque (17th/18th century) over-the-top-ness in the west end.

trier cathedral And here's the Holy Robe, locked inside an alarmed box in a locked chapel.

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!

bishop's museum, trier Frankish gravestone from the 6th century or so, with Chi-Rho symbol - the first two letters of Christ in Greek.

bishop's museum, trier Early Christian gravestone from Trier, also with Chi-Rho symbol (made popular by Constantine after he saw it in the sky in 312).

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.)

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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.

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We checked out the Stiftsmuseum (Monastery Museum) next door, but it was both more expensive and less impressive than the other museum.

porta nigra, trier It did provide a nice view of the cloisters.

simeon stiftsmuseum, trier And the exhibits included an interesting newspaper rejoicing in the success of Adolf Hitler...

simeon stiftsmuseum, trier ...and a model of Trier after World War II. Note how well the cathedral did (just left of center), losing only one spire. The church next door was not as lucky.

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 Kartoffelaufläufe, 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.

dinner in trier David's Kartoffelauflaufe with chicken and broccoli

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.

Further Resources

  1. Official Website of Trier Cathedral. Official source.