Trier – Imperial Baths (Kaiserthermen or Barbarathermen)

The Roman sites in Trier certainly present a complex history, this is a former baths complex which was never quite finished. It was meant to be Barbaratherman, or Barbara Baths, but when military needs required the Romans to shift to the east, the project got suspended. When it started again the building was instead used as a parade hall.

Then in the medieval period an enterprising local moved himself into the structure and turned it into a house for him and his family. Parts of the site were also turned into a church, which must be an enormous archaeological puzzle. This is why some of the building has remained, although there is a large restoration programme going on now to prevent bits of it collapsing. The restoration programme was so extensive that it closed the entire site off from between 2000 and 2015.

This looks over-restored to me, but was part of Alderburg Castle. The information was in German, so I may have misunderstood, but it looks like that they might recently have in places built walls in front of the Roman walls in an attempt to preserve them better, although that has made it difficult to ascertain what is original and what isn’t.

They’ve built a new observation deck in the corner of the museum, which allows visitors to look out over the site. There’s also a recreation of how the baths might have looked at one time, or would have looked like if they’d finished them.

And a photo from the same location over the rest of the site.

A view over the centre of the baths area.

Part of a small hypocaust.

There was a sign on the site which said to look out for surfaces which were marked with the imprint of wooden planks, which are the original support structures that were placed down here to build the walls. On balance of probability, this is probably one of them, as the wooden planks are visible. I’ll have to find a civil engineer to confirm that….

All of the above photos are of the extensive tunnel network which is below the site, and which I hadn’t realised even existed until near to the end of my visit. There must be getting on for a mile of tunnels down there and it’s easy to get lost, although I started to recognise some of the puddles…. This would be marvellous for kids to explore.

Another site where the staff member at the entrance was really enthusiastic and helpful. I was the only visitor on the site as well, so it was quite eerie down in those tunnels, but as with the amphitheatre earlier in the day, I was very brave.