I visited Germany for the first time last year. I had always wanted to go because I have a great interest in history, particularly World War 2, and the Third Reich, and I suppose having spent so much of my life studying history, I just wanted to get a feel for the place and the people. Of course that is not to say that particular period in history should be or is what defines Germany or its people, however I suppose like any country’s history, the major events, will forever have an impact on how people see it, and in terms of visiting a country, people will always remember these historical events and try to imagine the country during them.
I see visitors to Dublin all of the time, and they are all interested in the Irish struggle for freedom from the British, so they seek out the places that are associated with the War of Independence, and the later Civil War etc. So for that reason, I would love to go Berlin and to visit all of the monuments and places of interest there from a historical perspective. I did however visit Trier on the banks of the Mosel River, and remembered all that I knew of the history of the city during World War Two. In 1944 the city was very heavily bombed and bombarded, and it was also the place where 60,000 British prisoners of war were marched to when they were captured at Dunkirk. From here they were taken to prisoner-of war camps elsewhere in Germany. I felt the history of the War coming alive when I visited Trier, and imagined the agony of the people of the city, and of those captured and sent there.
Trier is on the banks of the Mosel River. It is a beautiful, picturesque city. My daughter was studying Business and German in the University of Trier for a year, so that was the main purpose of my visits. The town is magical, the buildings look like they could have come out of a fairytale. There is a beautiful central square, and it is surrounded by shops, restaurants, the toy museum, a lovely church, and just off it the Dom, an amazing cathedral. Several streets lead off the square, and the main street brings you back down to the Porta Nigra, the large Roman city gate in Trier, built between 186 and 200AD. It is quite amazing, and is a world heritage site. Trier is in fact the oldest city in Germany.
The Cathedral of Trier, is also the oldest in Germany, built by Constantine The Great, the first Christian Roman Emperor. It houses many great art works, and is very beautiful. Karl Marx house is also in Trier. He was born there in 1818 and it is now a museum. Trier also boasts the remains of one of the best Roman Baths of its time, dating back 1,600 years. The Constantine Basilica, now a Protestant church, is also worth visiting, as is the Electors Palace, and the Palace garden.
In the main market square you will find many half timbered houses, a church, a medieval fountain, the cathedral and the Jewish Quarter. As I have said, it is also the main shopping and eating area. It is a pleasure to sit at one of the caves with tables and chairs on the square, and watch the world go by, whilst listening to the beautiful sound of the church bells tolling.
Trier at Christmas is a delight. I visited in October, December, and July, but I think I enjoyed the December visit the most. The Christmas market was really incredible because it felt just like stepping into the pages of a magnificently illustrated children’s Christmas story book. The sights, sounds, and smells were what one expects of Christmas, but rarely gets. The atmosphere was great, and all of the things for sale in the market were of excellent quality, and craftsmanship. The mulled wine was delicious, as was all of the food on sale at the stalls. I was just sorry that I hadn’t been aware of Trier and its great Christmas market when my kids were small. They would have really loved it, and it would have delivered that incredible Christmas feeling we all love, the one that makes us all become children again and believe in Santa Clause! I was there on the 6th of December, a special day in the German Christmas calendar, and there were lovely carol singers on the square, and Santa Clause himself!
My three visits to Trier were amazing, the people of the city were so friendly, helpful, and nice. The shops were great, restaurants great (and inexpensive) the sights beautiful, a wonderful experience all round. I am a committed Francophile, but I think I could become a Germanophile too!
Unfortunately I was not using a good camera, so check out some other pictures on the internet!