Main Market (Hauptmarkt)
The Main Market became the center of medieval Trier with:
- the Steipe, the city council's banqueting house, with immediate access to the city church St. Gangolf (through the little baroque gate on the south side, the church itself is completely surrounded by stalls and houses),
- the official city yardstick (reconstruction) at the Steipe,
- the pillary (reconstructed on the south end of the market),
- access to the Cathedral,
- access to the Jewish Quarter
- as well as to six streets altogether.
After the Viking destruction of 882, the archbishop moved the market from the river to the present site, the Market Cross still commemorates this event from 958. The original of the cross is in the Municipal Museum; the column shaft is a recycled granite column from the Roman Cathedral.
The Market Fountain from 1595 shows St. Peter, the patron saint of the Cathedral as well as the city, standing on top, surrounded by the four cardinal virtues of good city government, Justice, Strength, Temperance, and Wisdom (originals in the Municipal Museum), but also by monsters and frolicking monkeys.
The fountain, just like the Cathedral and the parish and guild church St. Gangolf
as well the Steipe, are all rooted in the 300-year struggle for supremacy
in the city. Between the 10th and 12th centuries the Trier archbishops became both the ecclesiastical as well as the secular rulers. As bishop's church, the Cathedral was the ecclesiastical center of the city. This fact did not undermine the self-assurance of the townspeople: Thanks to a generous donation by the wealthy butcher's widow Adelheid von Besselich, the townspeople were able to increase the height of the tower of the Market Church St. Gangolf, allowing them to have the highest church tower in the city. The bishop, of course, had to react to this symbolic provocation. He had only enough money, however, to heighten just one of the two towers on the Cathedral, the south tower, by an additional Gothic story.
The secular building of the Steipe was located in such a position that the lord spiritual had to see it every day with its defiant battlements and the knights facing the Cathedral.
Trier, however, never became an imperial free city, and in 1595, the new archbishop had the Market Fountain with St. Peter in his double function erected as a conciliatory gesture.