The idea, after all, was to convey that the family knew what was architecturally en vogue at the time: Just 30 years prior, the crusaders of the 4th Crusade had conquered Constantinople and taken the splendour of the East back with them as thieving memento. The most valuable Byzantine treasures primarily reached the West through Venetian art dealers, thrilling the wealthy with their opulence and their gold and colourful style. Anyone who had the necessary cash would try and imitate this style, at least on a small scale – and so it was that the Dreikönigenhaus, which only got its name in the early modern era as a result of a painting it contained, had little in common with the comparatively simple Romanesque tower houses otherwise prevalent in the city.
Only the door on the first floor still serves as a reminder of its predecessors, nostalgically referencing the uncertain times that followed the extensive destruction of the ancient city wall, when fear of attack saw people try and protect their own four walls using mobile, easily removed wooden ladders. But these were no longer needed. Because by the time the Dreikönigenhaus was built, the medieval city wall was virtually finished. However, it’s not just about showing what you have financially; it’s also about showcasing your intellectual assets.
A must for: Crusaders, art dealers and kings.
PSSSST! THE INSIDER TIP:
Many other building façades along Simeonstrasse, in addition to the Dreikönigenhaus, are also worth craning your neck to admire: On the way from the Porta to the Dreikönigenhaus, for example, you will pass a classicist Prussian façade on your right, which today houses an ice-cream parlour. When you reach Judengasse, you’ll see three of the few preserved half-timbered buildings in Trier, where, even at the end of the Middle Ages, there was still enough stone material to replace the otherwise widespread timber framing. The Hauptmarkt and Sternstrasse towards the cathedral also feature some very fancy, elaborate façades; a particular must-see is the Laeis office block on the corner of Sternstrasse/Domfreihof, with its intricate depiction of a Corpus Christi procession (designed by Trier painter Werner Persy, who died in 2017).