Initially it was thought that Trier had two thermal baths from Roman times. During the construction of an underground parking garage, people came across the walls of the Viehmarktthermen, also known as the thermal baths at Viehmarkt. The Viehmarktthermen have been open to the public since 1998.
Significance of the thermae (bathhouses) in earlier times
The word thermen is derived from the Greek word ‘thermos’ which means ‘warm’. Thermal baths were of great importance to people in Roman times. In our time we could best compare the thermal baths with a sauna. People came there to bathe in alternating cold and warm water. In addition to body care, the thermal baths also had a major social function. It also served as a meeting place, there was even a library. There was also the opportunity to exercise, study and shop.
Viehmarktthermen / Source: Norbert Schnitzler, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0)
The Thermal Baths from the inside
On the sides of the baths you could enter the dressing room (apodyte room) via a colonnade, where you could undress. Clothing was not necessary, people bathed naked, but they often wore some kind of slippers to prevent slipping because the ground was slippery due to the oil that was used. From the changing room people went to the palaestra, the sports field, to warm up through exercises, athletics or a game. There were several rooms in which one could bathe or immerse in cold, warm or lukewarm water. There was also the option for a massage and there was a sweat room, which can be compared to a sauna.
About the Viehmarktthermen
Around the year 80 AD. started with the construction of the Viehmarktthermen by the Romans. Construction was completed about 20 years later. The Viehmarktthermen, also called the thermal baths at Viehmarkt, were approximately 8,364 m² in size.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the baths were no longer maintained by the Romans and the stones from the baths were used for other purposes such as building houses. A monastery was later built on the remains of the baths. Over the centuries, the thermal baths at Viehmarkt have been forgotten and for a long time it was believed that Trier had two thermal baths: the Kaiserthermen and the Barbarathermen. When they started building an underground parking garage in 1987, they came across the walls of the thermal baths and were (re)discovered. The thermal baths at Viehmarkt have been open to the public since June 1998. On top of the remains of the baths there is now a large building for protection. The building is clearly recognizable by its many glass windows.
How do I get to the Viehmarktthermen?
The Viehmarktthermen are within walking distance from the center of Trier. From the main street (Simeonstrasse) walk towards Hauptmarkt to the Viehmarkt. It is indicated on the map, near number 15