The center of Trier is dominated by a large and fascinating market square called Hauptmarkt, meaning Main Market Square. The very first market square of Trier was at the river, but in the 10th century Archbishop Heinrich I moved the main market square to its current location. In the middle ages, the market was used for trade of goods and to this day you will see many vendor booths selling fresh produce, souvenirs and flowers. The right to hold markets was also granted in the 10th century, which means the vendors at the market had to pay a fee or tax to the city in order to do business there.
The market centers around the much decorated Petrusbrunnen (Fountain of St. Peter), which was built in 1595. It shows St. Peter, the patron saint of Trier, surrounded by the four virtues Fortitude, Justice, Prudence, and Temperance, all as female figures. In contrast, you will see monkeys and monsters portraying the vices. In between the female figures are animals such as dolphins, eagles, geese, and lions together with a coat of arms. Take your time to circle the fountain to find even more interesting elements.
From the fountain we also spotted the Löwenapotheke (Lion’s Pharmacy), which is the oldest pharmacy in Germany - first mentioned in 1241. Across from the pharmacy is the tallest building of the market square, which is called Steipe, which means “to lean on” in the Trier dialect. The white, castellated building got its name from its short pillars on top and was originally built in 1430 (see the first picture). During WWII the Steipe was completely destroyed, but reconstructed in 1968, after a lengthy discussion of the citizens, who were trying to decide between a modern building and the reconstruction of the original Steipe building. I am glad the citizens of Trier voted for the reconstruction of the original building, it looks authentic and fits perfectly into the market picture.
On the ground level of houses on the square are restaurants, cafes and shops. It sure takes a while to get a feel for the space and to take it all in. Why not sit in one of the cafes and enjoy some German cake and coffee? This should give you some extra energy to explore the other sights of Trier.
An interesting fact about the main market square: All roads in Trier lead to the Hauptmarkt, which makes it a great place to navigate from. When you stand at the Petrusbrunnen fountain in the center, you will have the Porta Nigra to the north, the Cathedral to the east, the Kaiserthermen to the south, and the Mosel river to the west.
This was actually the first market square I have ever taken Denise to, and it is by far one of the prettiest in Germany with its colorful restored facades and old town feel. Have you been there? What was your most favorite memory of the Trier Hauptmarkt?
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