Monday, February 6, 2017

2014 Germany Trip - Main Market (Hauptmarkt) @ Trier

Location: Trier, Germany

Itinerary and full experience of my visit to Germany can be accessed through the link below:

<- previous: Roman Bridge (UNESCO World Heritage)

The Main Market square of Trier was not a UNESCO World Heritage Site, however there was no doubt that it was one of the most important places in the city. A large square surrounded by beautifully preserved houses and structures, it was also a place that travelers should not skip in his visit to Trier. Its location near famous sites and as the geographical center of the historic section meant that it is not very likely for one to miss it anyway.

Main Market square is a concoction of buildings from different era and a confluence of streets.

The market square had been around for quite a long time though not as ancient as the Roman structures. Being a place of trade and business, it was positioned in the center of the city since the medieval times and thus had various era's architectural buildings surrounding it. Looking around I saw the traditional timber frame houses as well as a concoction of buildings from Renaissance, Baroque all the way to Neoclassicism, all standing tall and at attention.

The few most important structures in Main Market square - from the left, Petrusbrunnen (fountain), Church of St Gangolf (tall building partially blocked), Market Cross (to the foreground with a gang in front), and the Steipe (rightmost building).

Being such an important site, the market square collected various important remnants of different historical era. One of the most important among them would be the gothic Steipe (meaning "arcade" in Trier dialect), occupying a corner of the market square and distinguished with a narrow slanted roof. It was built in 1483 as a banquet and reception area for councilors and officials. The building was destroyed completely in 1944 but subsequently rebuilt in 1970. On the exterior of the building, one could see sculptures of various saints who were important to the early development of Trier.

Another iconic building in the Main Market would be the Red House, a baroque structure so named for its brownish red exterior. Located right behind the Steipe, it was built in 1684 by master builder Wolfgang Stuppeler as the house of baker's guild master and secretary of the cathedral chapter, Johann Wilhelm Porch. The Red House was not famous in Trier for its aesthetic exterior but for the inscription on its front that read in Latin "Rather than Rome, Trier stood one thousand and three hundred years. May it persist and enjoy eternal peace." This placed Trier, first established as Treveri by an Assyrian prince named Trebeta, to be much older than Rome itself.

Beautiful as the Steipe and Red House were, they did not capture my attention as much as the Market Cross and Market Fountain did. The pillar holding a cross was commissioned by Archbishop Henry I to commemorate the move of the market from river side to the current location post-Viking invasion. The current Cross in the market was a replica, with the original kept in a museum, while the column was a recycled granite column from Trier Cathedral.

The Steipe, with its iconic narrow and slanted roof, and the Red House to its back.

The Market Cross on top of a column of recycled granite pillar from Trier Cathedral.

A closer look revealed the details of the cross itself.

It said "Dom Hotel" on top but it was "McDonald's" all over... What a beautiful McDonald's...

These sculptures on the ground floor arches of Steipe were early saints who helped developed Trier.

2 sculptures of armored knight stood at attention on the first floor, which in themselves held a symbolic meaning. One of the knight, the left one facing the citizen's Church of St Gangolf, had his visor lifted while the right one, who faced the cathedral, had his down. This was a symbolic resistance of the citizens to the power of the archbishopric's rule during the three centuries' silent struggle. Since the Steipe was built by the citizen, they chose this form as their silent rebellion.

The Market Fountain was also named Petrusbrunnen, so called for the patron St Peter standing on top of the fountain. This elaborate piece of work was the work of sculptor Hans Ruprecht Hoffmann in 1594, and apart from the patron saint, various other figures were also sculpted around the fountain. However the fountain itself held a political motive as well. Trier was embroiled in a silent struggle between the church of the townspeople, Church of St Gangolf and the archbishop in Trier Cathedral. Both wanted theirs to be the highest, and as ruler of the city, the archbishop believed the cathedral should logically not be lower than any other building. In the end the archbishop decided to have this fountain built as a conciliatory gesture.

The patron St Peter standing tall at the top of the fountain.

Various other sculptures decorated the fountain Petrusbrunnen.

Under the Trier sky

As a confluence point for various streets, the Main market square also served as a traffic junction and travelers could travel to various historically important locations from this square. Another important building of the area, Church of St Gangolf, was partially blocked by the buildings around the area but made accessible from the market square via a baroque gateway.

I didn't spend much time wandering the Main Market square though the beautiful buildings left a deep impression in me. The tall Church of St Gangolf was a visible and irresistible lure for me, so I decided to waltz in and check it out.

<- previous: Roman Bridge (UNESCO World Heritage)
next: St Gangolf's Church ->

Environment:         A historical square with beautiful buildings around
Suitable for:            History buffs
Visit worthiness:      8/10
Historical value:        5.0/5.0 
Architectural value:  3.0/5.0
Photographic value: 3.0/5.0
Landmark value:       5.0/5.0

Entrance Fee:                 free
Opening Hours:             always open
Best Moment to Visit: anytime
Length of Visit:              <1 hour


Contact:                    -
E-mail:                      -
Address:                   Hauptmarkt, 54290 Trier, Germany

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