How fitting for the oldest town in Germany that its cathedral, Dom St. Peter, is the oldest church in Germany. To this day, it remains a working Catholic cathedral.
Trier is the oldest seat of a Christian Bishop north of the Alps. In the Middle Ages, the Archbishop of Trier was an important prince of the church (the equivalent today is a Catholic Cardinal) since he controlled land from the French border to the Rhine. Additionally, the Archbishop was one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire.
Constantine, the first Christian emperor, began construction in 326 A.D to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his reign. Since one cathedral would not be nearly enough, he concurrently began building St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The original church was four times as big as the current cathedral. After extensive damage in the 5th and 9th centuries, the surviving part of the church was enlarged with Romanesque additions and later Gothic vaulting and archways and Baroque decorations. Today, the interior is laid out as a triple-nave, two-choir basilica with a transept and six towers. Portions of the original church can be seen in a central section in original walls rising up to a height of 26 meters and in the huge piece of granite column on the south side.
The star attraction here is the Holy Robe of Christ, the seamless garment worn by Christ during the Crucifixion. Mama St. Helena brought this from the Holy Land for her son’s new church. It is enshrined in the aptly named Chapel of the Holy Robe, behind the altar. The robe is periodically displayed to the public. The next viewing is 13 April – 13 May 2012.
The second most important item here is the Holy Nail, which was used in the Crucifixion. That is on permanent display in the Trier Cathedral Treasury.