The Hauptmarkt – Main Market Square– is the centre of the city of Trier and has been in this place since the 10th century when Archbishop Heinrich I moved the Market Cross from the river to its present site, (958). The original of the cross is in the Municipal Museum; the column shaft is a recycled granite column from the Roman Cathedral. The main market square was the Medieval centre for trade. Today it is still the main focal point of the city with its beautiful facades which have been lovingly restored, its shops and many cafès. The main urban shopping streets meet here in the square
The Hauptmarkt is still the ideal venue for various events and, of course, the market. In December the Christmas market is also held here and in the square outside the Cathedral. Standing in the market square and looking around one can take in so many wonderful sights, the market fountain ( Petrus-Brunnen), from 1595, shows St Peter who is the patron saint of the city, and the City cathedral, he is surrounded by the four cardinal virtues – Justice, Temperence, Prudence and Fortitude, as female figures around the central pillar of the fountain and as a contrast to them, small monkeys (Vices). In between the virtue figures are cherubs and animals such as geese, lions, dolphins and eagles. There is also a coat of arms and various decorative elements. In 1982-83 the fountain was extensively renovated, and in 2004 it received a new paint job. Every year at the beginning of the “Old Town Festival” the figure of St. Peter is presented with a bunch of flowers to ensure good weather for the holidays.
Just off the Hauptmark is the Market Church of St Gangolf which is, after the Cathedral, the oldest church in Trier. The first church was built in 958 but was later replaced by a new building in 1284-1344. The present day late- Gothic church has emerged from a renovation started in 1500. Baroque elements were added in 1731 and 1746. The glass windows brought all the elements from the different era together. The church has always been completely surrounded by houses and it has the feeling of being tucked away as you approach the entrance which is located at the foot of the 62 metre high church tower. The impressive and castellated building of the “Steipe” , named after its short pillars (Steipen means to lean on in Trier dialect), was originally built in 1430 but was destroyed in the Second World War and has been rebuilt to its original splendour. The appearance of the Steipe with its battlements and knights facing the Cathedral was deliberately placed here to annoy the Bishop and here he would have to see it every day. The “Red House” with its large inscription stating that Trier is 1,300 years older than Rome.
According to Medieval legend Trier was founded by the Assyrian Prince Trebeta. Also around the Hauptmark is Germany’s oldest Pharmacy “Löwenapotheke” which was first mentioned in 1241. In a side street just off the square is a medieval residential tower from the 11th century with a strange front entrance – it is on the first floor! This is the Frankenturm . The Statues and figures around the square on the buildings are wonderful to see don’t miss St Peter, St Paul and St Helena among the soldiers and many other wonderfully ornate and well tended figures. There are interesting streets running off the square, “Judengasse” takes you through the old Jewish quarter of the city. This street was solely for the Jewish population until the early 15th century when all the jews were forced to leave the city. Along the Judengasse one can see the difference between the Roman buildings and way of life compared with the medieval way of life, the Romans had sewers and running water and heating but there was no sanitation during the Middle Ages and one would have to hurry quickly along the alley in order to avoid a bed-pan being emptied on your head! not a pleasant thought.
There is a short walk along Sternstrasse which takes you from the Hauptmark into the square infront of the Cathedral – Domplatz. The atmosphere as you walk through the market square is friendly and lively, alongside all the ornate buildings of Trier sit modern shops and cafes and all blend and belong so well together. Trier is a city but here in the pedestrian heart of the city there is a cosy and welcoming feel to the place. A great city to visit and explore.
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