With its origins stretching right back Roman times, the historic city of Trier is possibly the oldest in Germany and boasts no less than eight amazing UNESCO World Heritage sites to its name; it grew in importance thanks to its strategic position on the banks of the River Moselle and was already a thriving garrison town by the first century AD.
Today Trier has modern suburbs wrapping around its ancient heart; located among the labyrinthine streets of the Altstadt (Old Town) are the Porta Nigra (Black Gate), the miraculously complete 1,800-year-old arched Roman gateway; the thermal baths where aristocratic Romans came to relax; and an amphitheater. The grandeur of these ruins pay testament to the importance of Trier in Classical times, and the splendor of its medieval heritage – the many-spired Cathedral of St Peter and the adjoining Gothic Church of Our Lady – indicate that the city was still wealthy in the Middle Ages.
Trier is also the birthplace of socialist philosopher Karl Marx and is crammed with other historic buildings, from gabled townhouses to Baroque palaces, a museum of prehistory and Roman bridges spanning the river. Today this dynamic university city is a stop on the Moselle Wine Route and celebrates its wine-producing legacy during the week-long Moselle WeinKulturZeit, usually held in July; it has a year-round cultural life of great richness, with classy stores plus a booming selection of restaurants, festivals and concert venues.
At around 2.5 hours from Frankfurt through the Moselle Valley wine region, Trier is also close to Luxembourg, which is 50 km (31 miles) south-east.