Germany off the beaten track

Erfurt Christmas Market © Ron Stern

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 A unique mixture of history and modernity

Trier enjoys a central location in the heart of Western Europe and is a central staging point for excursions (by car, bus or bicycle) to the remote, volcanic mountains of the Eifel region north of the Moselle, the more rugged Hunsrück Region to the south, to the nearby Ruwer, Saar and Sauer Rivers and along the Moselle itself - either toward the Rhine or upstream to Luxembourg. Trier is also minutes away from France.

Nearest major cities in Germany are Cologne or Frankfurt/Main. However, Koblenz, Mainz and Wiesbaden lie virtually at the door. And it's only a stone's throw to interesting cities of neighboring countries. Luxembourg, Nancy, Metz and Liege are all reached on day excursions.

In Longuich and across the river in Mehring, travelers can visit two Roman villas, rebuilt in part but with much of their ancient old foundations intact. In Neumagen-Dhron, there's a replica of a giant stone carving of a Roman wine ship (the original, discovered in the village, is in the Municipal Museum in Trier).

At the other end of the architectural spectrum, Traben-Trarbach has the unique appeal of having a complete district with Jugendstil (art nouveau) as the primary architectural style. Much of the town burned to the ground in a series of fires during the late 19th century. After a design competition to rebuild the popular Hotel Bellevue, Jugendstil was all the rage. Bernkastel-Kues is perhaps the postcard-perfect Moselle town, complete with castle ruins, half-timbered houses, medieval marketplace and architectural styles spanning nearly two millennia.

The countryside surrounding Trier also holds many treasures for the guest, including countless palaces and castles embedded in charming scenery. The "Burg Grimburg" (Grimburg Castle), built 1190 as country seat of the Trier Archbishops, is a popular hiking destination. Then there is the Saarburg (Saar Castle), a massive complex mentioned in official documents as early as 964, the "Freudenburg" (Freudenburg Castle) in Gothic style from the year 1337, and the "Burg Welschbillig" (Welschbillig Castle). The Burg Ramstein (Ramstein Castle) served the Cathedral deans of Trier as a country estate until 1689.

Schloss Thorn (Thorn Castle), which traces its origins to a tower the Romans built some 2000 years ago to protect a Moselle crossing, has remained in family possession from 1534 till the present day and is the oldest castle estate on the Moselle.

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