Trier (/trɪər/ TREER,[3][4] German: [tʁiːɐ̯] (listen); Luxembourgish: Tréier [ˈtʀəɪɐ] (listen)), formerly known in English as Trèves (/trɛv/ TREV;[5][6]) and Triers (see also names in other languages), is a city on the banks of the Moselle in Germany. It lies in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg and within the important Moselle wine region.

September 2009 view over Trier
Location of Trier
Coordinates: 49°45′24″N 06°38′29″E
DistrictUrban district
Founded16 BC
  Lord mayor (201422) Wolfram Leibe[1] (SPD)
  Total117.06 km2 (45.20 sq mi)
137 m (449 ft)
  Density940/km2 (2,400/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST)UTC+02:00 (CEST)
Postal codes
54290–54296 (except 54291)
Dialling codes0651
Vehicle registrationTR

Founded by the Celts in the late 4th century BC as Treuorum and conquered 300 years later by the Romans, who renamed it Augusta Treverorum ("The City of Augustus among the Treveri"), Trier is considered Germany's oldest city.[7][8] It is also the oldest seat of a bishop north of the Alps. Trier was one of the four capitals of the Roman Empire during the Tetrarchy period in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries.[9] In the Middle Ages, the archbishop-elector of Trier was an important prince of the Church who controlled land from the French border to the Rhine. The archbishop-elector of Trier also had great significance as one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire. Because of its significance during the Roman and Holy Roman empires, several monuments and cathedrals within Trier are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[9]

With an approximate population of 110,000, Trier is the fourth-largest city in its state, after Mainz, Ludwigshafen, and Koblenz.[10] The nearest major cities are Luxembourg (50 km or 31 mi to the southwest), Saarbrücken (80 kilometres or 50 miles southeast), and Koblenz (100 km or 62 mi northeast).

The University of Trier, the administration of the Trier-Saarburg district and the seat of the ADD (Aufsichts- und Dienstleistungsdirektion), which until 1999 was the borough authority of Trier, and the Academy of European Law (ERA) are all based in Trier. It is one of the five "central places" of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. Along with Luxembourg, Metz and Saarbrücken, fellow constituent members of the QuattroPole union of cities, it is central to the greater region encompassing Saar-Lor-Lux (Saarland, Lorraine and Luxembourg), Rhineland-Palatinate, and Wallonia.


The first traces of human settlement in the area of the city show evidence of linear pottery settlements dating from the early Neolithic period. Since the last pre-Christian centuries, members of the Celtic tribe of the Treveri settled in the area of today's Trier.[11] The city of Trier derives its name from the later Latin locative in Trēverīs for earlier Augusta Treverorum. According to the Archbishops of Trier, in the Gesta Treverorum, the founder of the city of the Trevians is Trebeta. German historian Johannes Aventinus also credited Trebeta with building settlements at Metz, Mainz, Basel, Strasbourg, Speyer and Worms.

Augusta Treverorum in the 4th century

The historical record describes the Roman Empire subduing the Treveri in the 1st century BC and establishing Augusta Treverorum about 16 BC.[12] The name distinguished it from the empire's many other cities honoring the first Roman emperor, Augustus. The city later became the capital of the province of Belgic Gaul; after the Diocletian Reforms, it became the capital of the prefecture of the Gauls, overseeing much of the Western Roman Empire. In the 4th century, Trier was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire with a population around 75,000 and perhaps as much as 100,000.[13][14][15][16] The Porta Nigra ("Black Gate") dates from this era. A residence of the Western Roman emperor, Roman Trier was the birthplace of Saint Ambrose. Sometime between 395 and 418, probably in 407 the Roman administration moved the staff of the Praetorian Prefecture from Trier to Arles. The city continued to be inhabited but was not as prosperous as before. However, it remained the seat of a governor and had state factories for the production of ballistae and armor and woolen uniforms for the troops, clothing for the civil service, and high-quality garments for the Court. Northern Gaul was held by the Romans along a line (līmes) from north of Cologne to the coast at Boulogne through what is today southern Belgium until 460. South of this line, Roman control was firm, as evidenced by the continuing operation of the imperial arms factory at Amiens.

Scale model of Trier around 1800
Electoral Palace

The Franks seized Trier from Roman administration in 459. In 870, it became part of Eastern Francia, which developed into the Holy Roman Empire. Relics of Saint Matthias brought to the city initiated widespread pilgrimages. The bishops of the city grew increasingly powerful and the Archbishopric of Trier was recognized as an electorate of the empire, one of the most powerful states of Germany. The University of Trier was founded in the city in 1473. In the 17th century, the Archbishops and Prince-Electors of Trier relocated their residences to Philippsburg Castle in Ehrenbreitstein, near Koblenz. A session of the Reichstag was held in Trier in 1512, during which the demarcation of the Imperial Circles was definitively established.

In the years from 1581 to 1593, the Trier witch trials were held. It was one of the four largest witch trials in Germany alongside the Fulda witch trials, the Würzburg witch trial, and the Bamberg witch trials, perhaps even the largest one in European history. The persecutions started in the diocese of Trier in 1581 and reached the city itself in 1587, where it was to lead to the death of about 368 people, and was as such perhaps the biggest mass execution in Europe in peacetime. This counts only those executed within the city itself. The exact number of people executed in all the witch hunts within the diocese has never been established; a total of 1,000 has been suggested but not confirmed.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the French-Habsburg rivalry brought war to Trier. Spain and France fought over the city during the Thirty Years' War. The bishop was imprisoned by Spain and the Holy Roman Emperor for his support to France between 1635 and 1645. In later wars between the Empire and France, French troops occupied the city during the Nine Years' War, the War of the Spanish Succession, and the War of the Polish Succession. After conquering Trier again in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars, France annexed the city and the electoral archbishopric was dissolved. After the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, Trier passed to the Kingdom of Prussia. Karl Marx, the German philosopher and one of the founders of Marxism, was born in the city in 1818.

As part of the Prussian Rhineland, Trier developed economically during the 19th century. The city rose in revolt during the revolutions of 1848 in the German states, although the rebels were forced to concede. It became part of the German Empire in 1871.

The synagogue on Zuckerbergstrasse was looted during the November 1938 Kristallnacht and later completely destroyed in a bomb attack in 1944. Multiple Stolperstein have been installed in Trier to commemorate those murdered and exiled during the Shoah.[17]

In June 1940 during World War II over 60,000 British prisoners of war, captured at Dunkirk and Northern France, were marched to Trier, which became a staging post for British soldiers headed for German prisoner-of-war camps. Trier was heavily bombed and bombarded in 1944. The city became part of the new state of Rhineland-Palatinate after the war. The university, dissolved in 1797, was restarted in the 1970s, while the Cathedral of Trier was reopened in 1974 after undergoing substantial and long-lasting renovations. Trier officially celebrated its 2,000th anniversary in 1984. On December 1, 2020, 5 people were killed by an allegedly drunk driver during a vehicle-ramming attack.[18] The Ehrang/Quint district of Trier was heavily damaged and flooded during the July 16, 2021 floods of Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Historical population
View of the city from St. Mary's Column (Mariensäule).
Trier from the east (Petrisberg).

Trier sits in a hollow midway along the Moselle valley, with the most significant portion of the city on the east bank of the river. Wooded and vineyard-covered slopes stretch up to the Hunsrück plateau in the south and the Eifel in the north. The border with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is some 15 km (9 mi) away.

Largest groups of foreign residents
Country of birthPopulation (2013)

Neighbouring municipalities

Listed in clockwise order, beginning with the northernmost; all municipalities belong to the Trier-Saarburg district

Schweich, Kenn and Longuich (all part of the Verbandsgemeinde Schweich an der Römischen Weinstraße), Mertesdorf, Kasel, Waldrach, Morscheid, Korlingen and Gusterath (all in the Verbandsgemeinde Ruwer), Hockweiler, Franzenheim (both part of the Verbandsgemeinde Trier-Land), Konz and Wasserliesch (both part of the Verbandsgemeinde Konz), Igel, Trierweiler, Aach, Newel, Kordel, Zemmer (all in the Verbandsgemeinde Trier-Land).

Organization of city districts

Districts of Trier

The Trier urban area is divided into 19 city districts. For each district there is an Ortsbeirat (local council) of between 9 and 15 members, as well as an Ortsvorsteher (local representative). The local councils are charged with hearing the important issues that affect the district, although the final decision on any issue rests with the city council. The local councils nevertheless have the freedom to undertake limited measures within the bounds of their districts and their budgets.

The districts of Trier with area and inhabitants (December 31, 2009):

Official district number District with associated sub-districts Area
in km2
11 Mitte/Gartenfeld 2.978 11,954
12 Nord (Nells Ländchen, Maximin) 3.769 13,405
13 Süd (St. Barbara, St. Matthias or St. Mattheis) 1.722 9,123
21 Ehrang/Quint 26.134 9,195
22 Pfalzel 2.350 3,514
23 Biewer 5.186 1,949
24 Ruwer/Eitelsbach 9.167 3,091
31 West/Pallien 8.488 7,005
32 Euren (Herresthal) 13.189 4,207
33 Zewen (Oberkirch) 7.496 3,634
41 Olewig 3.100 3,135
42 Kürenz (Alt-Kürenz, Neu-Kürenz) 5.825 8,708
43 Tarforst 4.184 6,605
44 Filsch 1.601 761
45 Irsch 4.082 2,351
46 Kernscheid 3.768 958
51 Feyen/Weismark 5.095 5,689
52 Heiligkreuz (Alt-Heiligkreuz, Neu-Heiligkreuz, St. Maternus) 2.036 6,672
53 Mariahof (St. Michael) 7.040 3,120
Totals 117.210 105,076


Trier has an oceanic climate (Köppen: Cfb), but with greater extremes than the marine versions of northern Germany. Summers are warm except in unusual heat waves and winters are recurrently cold, but not harsh. Precipitation is high despite not being on the coast.[20] As a result of the European heat wave in 2003, the highest temperature recorded was 39 °C on 8 August of that year. The lowest recorded temperature was −19.3 °C on February 2, 1956.[21]

Climate data for Trier (Petrisberg), elevation: 265 m, 1971–2000 normals
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 3.7
Daily mean °C (°F) 1.4
Average low °C (°F) −0.9
Average precipitation mm (inches) 62.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 12.2 9.7 11.6 9.4 11.3 11.2 10.2 8.4 9.1 10.5 11.6 12.3 127.5
Source: DWD
Climate data for Trier (Petrisberg), elevation: 273 m, 1961–1990 normals and extremes
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.3
Average high °C (°F) 3.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.9
Average low °C (°F) −1.4
Record low °C (°F) −18.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 60.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 12.0 10.0 12.0 10.0 12.0 11.0 10.0 10.0 9.0 9.0 12.0 12.0 129
Mean monthly sunshine hours 43.6 76.9 114.3 156.9 203.4 206.3 225.5 200.5 152.4 103.3 49.4 40.1 1,572.6
Source: NOAA[22]

Main sights

Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ruins of the Imperial Baths
IncludesAmphitheater, Roman bridge, Barbara Baths, Igel Column, Porta Nigra, Imperial Baths, Aula Palatina, Cathedral and Liebfrauenkirche
CriteriaCultural: i, iii, iv, vi
Inscription1986 (10th Session)
The Aula Palatina, or Constantine Basilica, built 4th century AD during the reign of Roman emperor Constantine I

Trier is known for its well-preserved Roman and medieval buildings, which include:

  • the Porta Nigra, the best-preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps;
  • the huge Aula Palatina, a basilica in the original Roman sense, was the 67 m (219.82 ft) long throne hall of Roman emperor Constantine; it is today used as a Protestant church; adjacent is the Electoral Palace, Trier;
  • the Roman Trier Amphitheater;
  • the 2nd century AD Roman bridge (Römerbrücke) across the Moselle, the oldest bridge north of the Alps still crossed by traffic;
  • ruins of three Roman baths, among them the largest Roman baths north of the Alps; including the Barbara Baths, the Trier Imperial Baths, and the Forum Baths, Trier;
  • Trier Cathedral (German: Trierer Dom or Dom St. Peter), a Catholic church that dates back to Roman times; its Romanesque west façade with an extra apse and four towers is imposing and has been copied repeatedly; the Cathedral is home to the Holy Tunic, a garment said to be the robe Jesus was wearing when he died, as well as many other relics and reliquaries in the Cathedral Treasury;
  • the Liebfrauenkirche (German for Church of Our Lady), which is one of the most important early Gothic churches in Germany, in some ways comparable to the architectural tradition of the French Gothic cathedrals;
  • St. Matthias' Abbey (Abtei St. Matthias), a still-in-use monastery in whose medieval church the only apostle north of the Alps is held to be buried;
  • St. Gangolf's church is the city's 'own' church near the main market square (as opposed to the Cathedral, the bishop's church); largely Gothic;
  • Saint Paulinus' Church, one of the most important Baroque churches in Rhineland-Palatinate and designed in part by the architect Balthasar Neumann;
  • two old treadwheel cranes, one being the Gothic "Old Crane" (Alte Krahnen) or "Trier Moselle Crane" (Trierer Moselkrahn) from 1413, and the other the 1774 Baroque crane called the "(Old) Customs Crane" ((Alter) Zollkran) or "Younger Moselle Crane" (Jüngerer Moselkran) (see List of historical harbour cranes).


Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier
  • Rheinisches Landesmuseum (an important archaeological museum for the Roman period; also some early Christian and Romanesque sculpture);
  • Domschatzkammer (Treasury of Trier Cathedral; with the Egbert Shrine, the reliquary of the Holy Nail, the cup of Saint Helena and other reliquaries, liturgical objects, ivories, manuscripts, etc., many from the Middle Ages);
  • Museum am Dom, formerly Bischöfliches Dom- und Diözesanmuseum (Museum of the Diocese of Trier; religious art, also some Roman artefacts);
  • Stadtmuseum Simeonstift (history of Trier, displaying among other exhibits a scale model of the medieval city);
  • Karl Marx House; a museum exhibiting Marx's personal history, volumes of poetry, original letters, and photographs with personal dedications. There is also a collection of rare first editions and international editions of his works, as well as exhibits on the development of socialism in the 19th century;
  • Toy Museum of Trier;
  • Ethnological and open-air museum Roscheider Hof, a museum in the neighbouring town of Konz, right at the city limits of Trier, which shows the history of rural culture in the northwest Rhineland Palatinate and in the area where Germany, Luxembourg and Lorraine meet;
  • Fell Exhibition Slate Mine; site in the municipality of Fell, 20 km (12 mi) from Trier, containing an underground mine, a mine museum, and a slate mining trail.


Uni Trier Campus 1
University of applied sciences, central campus

Trier is home to the University of Trier, founded in 1473, closed in 1796 and restarted in 1970. The city also has the Trier University of Applied Sciences. The Academy of European Law (ERA) was established in 1992 and provides training in European law to legal practitioners. In 2010 there were about 40 Kindergärten,[23] 25 primary schools and 23 secondary schools in Trier, such as the Humboldt Gymnasium Trier, Max Planck Gymnasium, Auguste Viktoria Gymnasium and the Nelson-Mandela Realschule Plus, Kurfürst-Balduin Realschule Plus, Realschule Plus Ehrang.[24]

Annual events

  • Until 2014, Trier was home to Germany's largest Roman festival, Brot und Spiele (German for Bread and Games – a translation of the famous Latin phrase panem et circenses from the satires of Juvenal).
  • Trier has been the base for the German round of the World Rally Championship since 2002, with the rally's presentation held next to the Porta Nigra.
  • Trier holds a Christmas street festival every year called the Trier Christmas Market on the Hauptmarkt (Main Market Square) and the Domfreihof in front of the Cathedral of Trier.


Trier has a municipal theatre, Theater Trier, for musical theatre, plays and dance.


Trier station has direct railway connections to many cities in the region. The nearest cities by train are Cologne, Saarbrücken and Luxembourg. Via the motorways A 1, A 48 and A 64 Trier is linked with Koblenz, Saarbrücken and Luxembourg. The nearest commercial (international) airports are in Luxembourg (0:40 h by car), Frankfurt-Hahn (1:00 h), Saarbrücken (1:00 h), Frankfurt (2:00 h) and Cologne/Bonn (2:00 h). The Moselle is an important waterway and is also used for river cruises. A new passenger railway service on the western side of the Mosel is scheduled to open in December 2018.[25]


Moselstadium Trier

Major sports clubs in Trier include:

International relations

Trier is a fellow member of the QuattroPole union of cities, along with Luxembourg, Saarbrücken and Metz (neighbouring countries: Luxembourg and France).

Twin towns – sister cities

Trier is twinned with:[26]


Notable people

  • Eucharius (died c. 250), first bishop of Trier
  • Constantius Chlorus (c. 250–306), Roman emperor
  • Maximian (c. 250–310), Roman emperor
  • Valerius (died 320), second bishop of Trier
  • Helena (c. 250–330), saint, mother of Constantine the Great (residence in Trier by tradition)
  • Athanasius of Alexandria (296/298–373), saint (in exile ca. 335)
  • Paulinus (died 358), bishop of Trier
  • Valentinian I (321–375), Roman emperor
  • Ausonius (c. 310–395), Roman consul and poet
  • Ambrose (c. 340–397), saint
  • Apronia of Toul (6th century), nun and saint
  • Saint Modesta (died c. 680), founder and Abbess of the monastery of Oeren
  • Kaspar Olevianus (1536–1587), theologian
  • Heinrich Marx (1777–1838), lawyer, father of Karl Marx
  • Henriette Marx (1788–1863), mother of Karl Marx
  • Johann Anton Ramboux (1790–1866), painter
  • Jenny Marx (1814–1881), revolutionary, drama critic
  • Karl Marx (1818–1883), social philosopher and revolutionary
  • August Beer (1825–1863), scientist
  • Frederick A. Schroeder (1833–1899), American politician, mayor of Brooklyn
  • Hans am Ende (1864–1918), painter
  • Ludwig Kaas (1881–1952), Catholic priest and politician (Zentrum)
  • Oswald von Nell-Breuning (1890–1991), theologian
  • Charles de Gaulle (1890–1970), General and French statesman, as commander of a battalion of Chasseurs during the French occupation of Rhineland
  • Reinhard Heß (1904–1998), painter and glass painter
  • Wolf Graf von Baudissin (1907–1993), general, military planner and peace researcher
  • Peter Thullen (1907–1996), German-Ecuadorian mathematician
  • Klaus Barbie (1913–1991), SS and Gestapo functionary
  • Gitta Lind (1925–1974), singer
  • Reinhold Bartel (1926–1996), operatic tenor
  • Ernst Huberty (born 1927), sports reporter
  • Günther Steines (1928–1982), athlete
  • Franz Grundheber (born 1937), baritone
  • Otmar Seul (born 1943), lawyer, professor
  • Helga Zepp-LaRouche (born 1948), journalist and politician
  • Xavier Bout de Marnhac (born 1951), French general, former commander of KFOR
  • Robert Zimmer (born 1953), philosopher and essayist
  • Ernst Ulrich Deuker (born 1954), musician
  • François Weigel (born 1964), French pianist, composer and conductor
  • Eric Jelen (born 1965), tennis player
  • Martin Bambauer (born 1970), church musician
  • Frank Findeiß (born 1971), poet
  • Anja Kaesmacher (born 1974), operatic soprano


  1. Wahl der Oberbürgermeister der kreisfreien Städte, Landeswahlleiter Rheinland-Pfalz, accessed 30 July 2021.
  2. "Bevölkerungsstand 2021, Kreise, Gemeinden, Verbandsgemeinden" (in German). Statistisches Landesamt Rheinland-Pfalz. 2022.
  3. "Trier" (US) and "Trier". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 2020-03-22.
  4. "Trier". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  5. "Trèves" (US) and "Trèves". Oxford Dictionaries UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press.
  6. "Trèves". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved April 2, 2019.
  7. Rathaus der Stadt Trier. "Stadt Trier – City of Trier – La Ville de Trèves | Website of the Municipality of Trier". Archived from the original on 2002-08-08. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  8. An honor that is contested by Cologne, Kempten, and Worms.
  9. "Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 22 May 2022.
  10. "Bevölkerung der Gemeinden am 31.12.2010" (PDF). Statistisches Landesamt Rheinland-Pfalz (in German). 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-31.
  11. See: Heinen, pp. 1–12.
  12. The City of Trier, Trier University, retrieved 11 May 2019
  13. "TRIER THE CENTER OF ANTIQUITY IN GERMANY". 8 March 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-12-25. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  14. LaVerne, F.K. (1991). Europe by Eurail 2010: Touring Europe by Train. Globe Pequot Press. p. 337. ISBN 9780762761630. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  15. Baker, Myron (2013). BEYOND OUR WORLD: The Exciting Story of a Treasure Hunter, Historian, and Adventurer. Dorrance Publishing Co. p. 182. ISBN 9781480901872. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  16. Victor, Helena; Fischer, Svante. "The Fall and Decline of the Roman Urban Mind | Svante Fischer and Helena Victor -". Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  17. List of Stolperstein in Trier (in German).
  18. Trier: Five die as car ploughs through Germany pedestrian zone. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  19. Einwohnerentwicklung von Trier [Population development]. (in German). Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  20. "Trier, Germany Köppen Climate Classification (Weatherbase)". Weatherbase. Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  21. "Wetterrekorde Deutschland". (in German). Retrieved 2019-02-02.
  22. "Trier (10609) – WMO Weather Station". NOAA. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  23. "Stadt Trier – Startseite | Kindergärten in Trier"., City of Trier. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  24. "Stadt Trier – Startseite – Schulen in Trier"., City of Trier. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
  25. Fender, Keith (12 February 2014). "Plans approved for Trier suburban line Written by". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
  26. "Städtepartnerschaften". (in German). Trier. Retrieved 2021-03-17.

Further reading

Heinz Monz: Trierer Biographisches Lexikon. Landesarchivverwaltung Rheinland-Pfalz, Koblenz 2000. 539 p. ISBN 3-931014-49-5.

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