The Romans, of course, lay claim to a lot of firsts, including the invention of the purely functional (aqueducts) to the therapeutic (baths).
Unraveling the layers of Trier--Germany's oldest city--is like peeling an onion. The heart of it will make you shed a few tears because the history is so special.
At least that's what our guide, Dorothy, illuminated on our Viking River Cruises walk to the city one sunny afternoon.
I saw the soot-black Porta Negra, the best preserved town gate in the Roman Empire which served as a boundary for the city. "It is made of sandstone, but that turns black easily," Dorothy says in her clear-cut Trier accent. "Long before there was modern pollution, there was Medieval pollution," she jokes.
The Gothic Cathedral is one of the focal points in the city centre, as is the well-maintained Cloister, an ideal meditative spot. It stands right next to a Romanesque building, which shows how many architectural changes Trier underwent (parts of it were also destroyed during WWII, and rebuilt, modernised).
My most favourite building is the Löwen-Apotheke, Germany's oldest apothecary, which was established in 1241 and is immaculate as a pin. It also has a Dr. Hauschka treatment centre at back.
Today, the apothecary carries many modern cosmetic lines but its pink and gold decorated Classical facade will make you feel you have lived through a time warp.
And Trier is exactly that: a dose of the past, but still very much present.