TRIER Tourist Guide

Trier Porta Nigra

Trier – Germany´s oldest city where the history breathes on you from every corner. Its roots are from 16. B.C. when Roman Emperor Augustus founded the town in between the Rhine and Meuse rivers. City built according to the Roman principles soon developed into the capital of the region and had everything which such a grandiose town at that time should have: forum, imperial baths, amphitheatre, massive town walls and the rectangular network of streets. The city was the centre of early Christianity and it possessed church construction – one of the largest of its kind in the 4th century. In the 5th century Trier was repeatedly destroyed by Germanic tribes, later Vikings and in 1794 for a short time possessed by French. Nowadays Trier belongs to Rhineland-Palatine in one of the most beautiful regions of Germany – on the banks of Moselle valley. Visit Trier and move yourself to the time of antiquity to discover the outstanding role the city played during the Roman rule.

Trier

You definitely shouldn´t miss the following spots:

1. PORTA NIGRA

Porta Nigra is the only one preserved from 5 gates which were once part of the huge fortification surrounding the Roman town and its age dates back to the 2. A.D. It survived the demolition of Roman fortification during Middle Ages only thanks to the fact that it was converted into church in honour of St. Simeon. Simeon, who had returned from pilgrimage back home, had hermitage installed in Porta Nigra. He locked himself up inside and lived ascetically. After his death, the miracles started to happen and this lead to the conversion of the gate to the two-storey collegiate church. Church turned back to the gate again in 18th century when Napoleon decided the gate should reflect the magnificence of the Roman culture.

Address: Porta-Nigra-Platz, 54290 Trier
Opening hours: April – September: daily 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
October and March: daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November – February: daily 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Prices: Adults: 4 EUR
Children: 2,50 EUR
Reduced: 3 EUR

Trier Porta Nigra

2. MAIN MARKET SQUARE

Main market square is the most beautiful square in Trier. In the middle stands the Market Cross (original in the Städtisches Museum) which is the oldest cross of its kind in whole Germany and symbolises the city centre. It stands there from the earliest stage of the square history. The square is surrounded by houses from different times in the history – you can find there old half-timbered houses, baroque houses as well as eclectic buildings from around 1900. If you want to hide from the rush of this square find small aisle in between houses and enter the Gangolf Church. It´s nicely decorated ceiling will certainly bring you relief on soul.

Trier Main market square

3. THE CATHEDRAL AND CHURCH OF OUR LADY

These 2 religious buildings are must sees during your visit in Trier. Early Christianity appeared in Trier already in Roman times. Cathedral and Church stand on the remains of the Roman church complex, at that time one of the largest of its kind. Cathedral will impress you with its size and massiveness, if you enter you will feel unusually small. Don´t forget to climb up few stair to the altar in front which hides the unique relic – the Holy Robe. In the Church of Our Lady you will be on the other hand stunned by the beautiful play of the colours of mosaic windows.

Address: Liebfrauenstraße 12, 54290 Trier
Opening hours: April – October: daily 6:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
November – March: daily 6:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Prices: free

Trier cathedral

4. BASILIKA

Basilika is huge brick building which was in the time between 286 until the end of the 4th century audience hall of Roman Emperors. Originally it was not a free standing building, it was a palace complex which had other smaller buildings attached to it. Basilica was equipped with a floor and wall heating system. Nowadays you can admire the huge hall as the part of protestant church.

Address: Konstantinpl. 11, 54290 Trier
Opening hours: November, January – March:
Monday closed
Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 12 noon and 2 – 4 p.m.
Sunday / Holiday 1 – 3 p.m.December:
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 12 noon and 2 – 4 p.m.
Sunday / Holiday 1 – 3 p.m.April – October:
Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday / Holiday 1 – 6 p.m.
Prices: free

5. ELECTORAL PALACE AND IT´S GARDENS

Right next to the Basilica stands beautiful renaissance building – Electoral Palace. It happened in the 17th century when the Basilica “got its wings” and the palace was built. While walking in the garden right in front of the palace you can easily imagine you are elector admiring beauty of his statues and flowers. Need some place where to take short rest? One of the benches in the garden can be a perfect place for it.

Electoral palace Trier

6. IMPERIAL BATHS

Baths couldn´t be missing in any Roman city. Baths were the place where people could relax in cold and hot baths, swim, get a massage, go to the hairdresser’s, engage in sports, even to gamble or do business. Even though Imperial Baths in Trier were finished it was never publicly used. A new building soon became a ruin. The reason could be that emperor rather focused on ongoing battles so there were no more finances for maintenance of baths. Even though there is not so much preserved, explanatory tables will help your imagination to feel the history of this special place!

Address:  Weberbach 41, 54290 Trier
Opening hours: April – September: daily 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
October and March: daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November – February: daily 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Prices: Adults: 4 EUR
Children: 2,50 EUR
Reduced: 3 EUR

Imperial bath Trier

7. AMPHITHEATRE

The Roman arena was built as the part of Roman city walls (200 AD) and could be used as a city gate. In Roman times amphitheatre was an important part of a city. Gladiatorial battles, animal hunts and religious festivals were entertaining up to 20 000 spectators. During your visit of amphitheatre you can easily recognise entrance roads, seats for visitors and even underground cellars where impressive wooden lift was installed in 3rd century.

Address:  Bergstraße 45, 54295 Trier
Opening hours: April – September: daily 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
October and March: daily 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
November – February: daily 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Prices: Adults: 4 EUR
Children: 2,50 EUR
Reduced: 3 EUR

8. ROMAN BRIDGE AND MOSELLE EMBANKMENT

Trier is the city on river. In Roman as well as medieval times city had large harbours. Today two cranes for uploading and unloading ships from 1413 and 1774 reminds of that. Two banks of Moselle river were connected by the first wooden bridge at the same time as the founding of the city. The Roman Bridge in Trier is the oldest bridge in Germany. The stone pilings of the Roman Bridge date from  144-152 A.D. and are deeply embedded in the bedrock underneath the river gravel. Enjoy the walk besides the river shore.

9. KARL MARX HOUSE

Trier is the birthplace of Karl Marx. Karl Marx was German philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist. He was born to a lawyer family on 5th of May 1818 in Brueckenstrasse 10. The house serves as a museum today and is administered by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Address:  Brueckenstrasse 10, Trier
Opening hours: April to October: daily 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
November to March: Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Prices: Adults: 4 EUR
Children up to 12: free
Students: 2,50 EUR

More recent information on opening hours and prices you can find on the website of Trier.

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DOWNLOAD THIS GUIDE IN PDF AND PRINT IT OUT BEFORE THE JOURNEY:trier tourist guide

4 TOP tourist activities in Dinant

Dinant

Dinant is very small, but interesting town in the south of Belgium. It is hidden in the valley located on the both sides of the river Meuse. The area of Dinant was already occupied by the Celts, followed by Romans. From the 11th until 18th of the century Dinant shared its history with its overlord Liège. The main development of Dinant took place between 13th and 15thcentury thanks to the copper-ware industry known as “Dinanderie.” Many wars occurred during the history in the town and its inhabitants suffered from hunger and epidemics. The biggest devastation in the Dinant happened during the First World War. In 1914 the most of the houses were burned down by German soldiers. Below you will find 4 activities you definitely shouldn´t miss during your visit in Dinant:

1. Climb the Citadele

Dinant

Citadele of Dinant was built in truly impressive place. Already in the 11th century was the strategic importance of this place understood and castle was build here. Castle was several times destroyed during the history, the most negative event in Dinant´s history is however the year 1914, where was the small town heavily destroyed. Start your visit down in the foot of the church and climb plenty of stairs to reach the top of the Citadele which will reward you with a beautiful view. From the top Dinant seems to be even smaller. And the view of the valley and mountains, not so high though, is appreciated in the Belgium, otherwise flat county. The alternative to stairs is cable cabin. Save some time at the top to visit museum inside of the Citadele where you will discover the history of the town and Citadele itself – the exhibition is already in the price of the ticket. Behind the Citadele, small war cemetery is located as a reminder of all the victims of the First and Second World War.

Practical information:

Address: Place Reine Astrid 3-5
B-5500 DINANT, Belgium
Website: http://www.citadellededinant.be/ (French)
Opening hours: 01/04>30/09: 10.00am – 06.00pm (every day).

01/10>31/03: 10.00 – 16.30 (every day)

Fee: Adults and senior: 8,50 EUR

Children: 6 EUR

 

2. Admire The Collegiate Church of Notre-Dame

Dinant

From the top of the citadel you could surely admire the church beneath which creates a picturesque view of the city of Dinant. The first stones of the church were put already in the 10th century. In the 13th and 14th century it was rebuild in gothic style and its interesting tower was added later in the 16th century. The history was also not pleasant to the church. First, it was destroyed by the falling rocks from the cliffs above and later badly damaged in the First World War. From the inside, the church seems even more impressive, I definitely recommend to visit it and have a rest in the peaceful atmosphere of this holy place.

3. Make a photo with saxophone

Dinant

After entering of the city you would be able to recognise one special feature. It is full of saxophones. Wondering why? This lovely town is birthplace of Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone. Only few meters away from the church you can find a house where was Mr. Sax in 6th of November 1814. Have a look in the interactive museum and step for a while to the place where the idea of saxophone was created.

Practical information:

Address: 37 Rue Sax, 5500 Dinant, Belgium
Website: http://sax.dinant.be/en/sax-and-the-city/mr-sax-s-house
Opening hours: Open all year, 7/7, from 9.00 to 19.00
Fee: free

 

4. TRY to eat typical cookie from Dinant

Dinant

While visiting Dinant you shouldn’t miss trying of the local speciality – couque de Dinant. Visit one of the plenty of bakeries in the town and choose the cookie of various shapes. However be aware of the fact that cookie of Dinant is basically impossible to eat alone! It has nice honey flavour but is extremely hard. If you want to prevent breaking your teeth better try to dip it to hot coffee or tea, than it gets a bit softer.

 

Portogruaro – hidden jewel of Northern Italy

Portogruaro is located about 40 minutes drive from the major holiday resorts of Bibione and Lignano in northern Italy. Since it is situated only a few kilometres from the place where thousands of tourists every year spend their holidays, one would expect that this small medieval town with 25,000 inhabitants will enjoy many visitors. During our visit, we found that the opposite is true. Portogruaro appeared to be completely non-touristic town. We parked the car on the free parking place on the street Piazza Castello and we immediately noticed that the town is somehow empty. No enthusiastic tourists photographing nice spots and no souvenir shops (really, we did not find even a single one!). Scarcely have we found a few postcards in a small tobacco shop. If you think the reason is that the city has nothing to offer, you are terribly wrong.

 

Portogruaro – town of arcades and historical atmosphere

Portogruaro has its roots in the Middle Ages and had the greatest significance in the times of the Venetian Republic. Streets in the city center, even the smallest ones, are lined with old houses with arcades. Recent restorations uncovered ancient frescoes and ornaments decorating the windows. While walking underneath the arcade houses with a little bit of fantasy you will easily find yourself in the past. Old wooden doors and shutters on the windows even amplify the atmosphere.

arcades
Portogruaro could be easily called arcade town – they are covering almost all the streets in city centre
Ancient frescoes and ornaments
Ancient frescoes and ornaments on the buildings amplify historical atmosphere of Portogruaro

In the past, town fortification with five entrance gates protected Portogruaro. Today, however, you can only see 3 of them preserved – San Gottaro, Sant’Agnese and San Giovanni. If sightseeing is not enough for you, the city has an archaeological museum, where you can look at the Roman remains found in the nearby villages.

preserved city gate
You can start exploring historical city centre of Portogruaro entering one of the 3 preserved city gates

Portogruaro as the second Pisa?

Center of the city is the Town Hall, standing on a square surrounded by palm trees, in the middle of which stands the statue of a man on horseback. From the square you can see the Bell Tower. When you approach it closer, you will find out that it is leaning. So why should we follow the crowds of tourists to make a photo with the famous leaning tower in Pisa when we can do it as well in Portogruaro? After a while of staring at a steel rod in between tower and nearby church, which seems to be holding the weight of the tower, we moved to perhaps the most beautiful corner of Portogruaro.

sight of Portogruaro
Portogruaro has magical spirit. Leaning Bell Tower gives shadow to the arcade building of past fish market situated on the river Lemene
town hall
Town hall dominating the main square of Portogruaro

Romantic paradise for all nature lovers

Through a narrow alley between the houses, we got with a few steps to a small river Lemene. View of the old mills at the river was literally romantic. In the past, the river was economically very important and the number of mills was much greater. On one side of the river is the arcade building of the former fish market. Inside the building surprised us a small oratory of Our Lady. Burning candles gently contributed to the peaceful atmosphere of this place.

Lemene river
Romantic surroundings of Lemene river
oratory in Portogruaro
Burning candles in small oraroty contributed to the peaceful atmosphere

We walked around the old mills on the other side of the river where we had a wonderful view of the city. This green oasis provides a pleasant coolness – not only for humans but similarly to its animal inhabitants. In a short time we’ve seen a few ducks, number of fish, swimming beaver and a family of resting swans.

old mills
Old mills across Lemene river – probably the most romantic corner of Portogruaro
old mills
Old mills

Luxury brands everywhere

And what if you are tired from so much of walking? Every corner in Portogruaro hides a small cafe and bar where locals relax after a long day. But do not search for tourist shops. Under the arcades many shops are situated, products and prices, however, reveal only luxury brands. In fact, there are very few places where I saw so many branded goods at such a small place such as in Portogruaro. There is no doubt why people on the street are so nicely dressed.

Portogruaro house
Portogruaro still stays the hidden jewel of Northern Italy

After discovering such a beauties the question pops up – Why is then Portogruaro hiding from the world? Perhaps the residents of this magic town want to keep the peace, quiet and typical Italian atmosphere. This way Portogruaro still stays the hidden jewel of Northern Italy, occasionally discovered by some strayed tourist. Could it be you?

Amsterdam – city of sin or freedom?

What is the first which comes to your mind when somebody says Amsterdam? Red light districts? Drugs? Or you imagine thousands of water canals thanks to which is Amsterdam also called Venice of the north? Amsterdam is the city which attracts tourist for it differentness. Would you like to know some facts about Amsterdam which you hardly find in tourist guides? Here they are.

Beauty of the city
Beauty of the city

Why the name Amsterdam?

The roots of the city are in the 12th century
The roots of the city are in the 12th century

In the 12th century a small fishermen village was settled up on the bank of the river Amstel. Fishermen however soon realized the strategic position of their location – traders used delta of river Amstel to reach the sea. In the vision of making money thanks to their location, fishermen build on the river Amstel dam and forced everybody who wanted to pass to pay. Thanks to this business transformed small village into the important city with the huge port of one of the greatest importance up today. And why the name Amsterdam? It is very simple. Dam on the Amstel – in reverse order – Amsterdam.

What you didn’t know about the Red light district

The big part of Amsterdam belongs to the Red light district. People are everyday passing around glass windows with naked women and find it completely ordinary. In Amsterdam you can even spot very interesting sight – prostitute windows right next to the oldest building in the city – Old church. Shocked? There is an explanation for that.  In the past a port used to be not so far away from the church. Sailors spending long days on ships were the best clients for the ladies practising “the oldest profession”. And afterwards could satisfied sailors head right to the church to atone their “sins”. Seems like the ladies had kind of business talent already in the past and the triangle worked perfectly.

The Old church - right next to the Red light district
The Old church – right next to the Red light district

In a matter of fact today it is even more important for the ladies to use their entrepreneurial talent to be able to pay expensive rents. In Amsterdam prostitution is legal profession on condition that ladies stay inside of the windows. Women are officially registered and need to pay taxes. Interested about some average numbers? The average price per client is 50 EUR, average time spend for one client is around 8 minutes and the average number of clients per night is 15. Than count out the taxes and rent approximately 150 EUR per night. And now compare to your salary per day…

Dancing houses

Tourists normally realize shortly after the arrival to the city that houses are not really straight. Some of them are leaning to the side, some of them to the front. Leaning to the front was done on purpose. The land was very expensive and the bigger parcel you had, more taxes you needed to pay. Therefore smart people built their houses leaning to the street and so created more space in the upper floors. And what about the hook which hangs from many roofs? It is just another invention to create more space. Houses were narrow and therefore they needed to build very narrow and steep staircase to save some space for living. But how would you than bring all your furniture inside? You lift it on the hook to upper floors and bring it inside through the window!

Dancing houses
Dancing houses

And what about houses leaning on the side? Well this was not made on purpose. The ground of Amsterdam is not very stable and therefore the classical foundations of the buildings would not be very helpful. To prevent house from  falling, people build their houses on the trees whose roots reaching deep into the soil were able to hold the weight of the city. Amsterdam is therefore the city build on the woods. Well but because wood is only natural material, through the time it loses its stability and houses are leaning to the site. Okay and now you might think, isn’t the wood completely rotten after so long time? Scientists found out that the wood will not rot while it is protected under water without the access of the oxygen. Therefore the city has to constantly regulate the water in canals to keep it at the same height level.

City vs. Church – guess who won in Amsterdam

Royal palace vs. New church

Royal palace vs. New church

Dam square – the hearth of Amsterdam and probably the most beautiful square. The most dominant building of the square is the Royal palace which served the first 150 years of its existence as Amsterdam’s city hall. But it didn´t used to be the most dominant one. Can you see the church hidden in the shadow of the palace? This is the Nieuwe Kerk (New church), in the 17th century the most important building in the city. Until the city decided to build a new town hall. And this is where negotiations started between the city and the church. Of course the church was against the huge project of city hall but the city promised to use spare money from the construction of city hall to build a new big tower for the church. And is the tower standing? Of course not, there were no money left after the construction of the imposing city hall.

Romantic walk alongside Amsterdam canals couldn´t be missing in any itinerary. On the shore of one of the many canals, the Flower market is situated. There you can buy many different flowers but the best sellers are surely the seeds of tulip flowers!

Final word about Amsterdam? It is the nest of open-mindness – until you don’t hurting anybody feel free to do what you want – this represents kind of how they act.

Romantic canals of Amsterdam
Romantic canals of Amsterdam