Traben-Trarbach lies some 40 km northeast of Trier and some 60 km southwest of Koblenz in the valley of the Middle Moselle. North of the town is found the mountain inside a bend in the Moselle, Mont Royal. Frankfurt-Hahn Airport in the Hunsrück lies some 10 km away towards the east (in each case, as the crow flies). The municipal area spreads over a total of 31,350,000 m² with a great share of this being wooded. This makes Traben-Trarbach the biggest town by land area on the Middle Moselle.
Traben lies on the Moselle’s left bank at the foot of the former fort of Mont Royal, and Trarbach lies on the right bank on the Hunsrück side. While Traben stretches in a broad strip along the river, Trarbach instead stretches inland between rather steep mountains, particularly up the Kautenbach valley.
Traben-Trarbach’s Stadtteile, besides Traben and Trarbach, are Litzig, Wolf, Bad Wildstein, Rißbach, Kautenbach and Hödeshof.
As early as 830, the Aacher Hof (estate) had a documentary mention. Emperor Louis the Pious, Charlemagne’s son, donated Traben with all its rights and privileges, and its appurtenances, namely Litzig, Rißbach, Irmenach and Beuren, to the minster at Aachen (Aachen Foundation of Mary), where German kings were crowned.
All today’s Stadtteile – with the exception of a part of Kautenbach – belonged to the “Hinder” County of Sponheim, whose main centre was Trarbach, which remained such even after the comital family of Sponheim had died out, and even though both the then landholders – the County had become a Palatine-Badish condominium – had their residences elsewhere in the County, namely in Birkenfeld and Kastellaun. At the same time, Trarbach was, however, the seat of the like-named Oberamt. In 1816, the area around Trarbach was annexed to Prussia, with Trarbach itself becoming the seat of a Bürgermeisterei (“Mayoralty”). Against expectations, however, Zell, rather than Trarbach, was made the district seat, even though the latter was the biggest place in the new District of Zell. The Bürgermeisterei of Trarbach was dissolved in 1884, and Trarbach no longer belonged to any Bürgermeisterei. It was, rather, administered thereafter in personal union with the new Bürgermeisterei of Traben. In 1898, the first bridge was built between the two centres, one built to plans drawn up by Bruno Möhring. This bridge, which was blown up in the dying days of the Second World War in 1945, was at the same time also the first roadbridge between Bernkastel and Koblenz. The next bridges were built only in 1924, in Cochem, and between 1951 and 1953 in Zell. In the late 19th century, Traben and Trarbach were also, together with Reichenhall, the first municipalities in Germany that, instead of having gaslamps, had electric street lighting from the Edison Company, today AEG, installed, although the odd stretch of street in Berlin had already been outfitted with electric lighting. In 1904 came the merger of the municipality of Traben and the town of Trarbach into the new town of Traben-Trarbach. The next changes came on 7 June 1969, when the municipalities of Kautenbach and Wolf were amalgamated with Traben-Trarbach. One year later, the Verbandsgemeinde of Traben-Trarbach was newly formed. It has its administrative seat in the town; Traben-Trarbach is a member municipality of the Verbandsgemeinde, a kind of collective municipality.
Because they belonged to the “Hinder” County of Sponheim, the Reformation was introduced into Traben and Trarbach, with the town remaining even today mainly Evangelical, even though newcomers, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries, have raised the Catholic share of the population markedly. The Evangelical Church’s leadership in the Hinder County of Sponheim was at first exercised from the Birkenfeld chancellery. Then, in 1672, a Hinder-Sponheim Lutheran consistory was instituted, whose duties were transferred to the consistory in Zweibrücken in 1776.
In 1818, the Synod of Trarbach was established, whose seat remained in Trarbach until 1972. Because of its size – the synod encompassed the districts of Bernkastel, Zell and Trier – this was divided in 1825. Curiously, the outlying centre of Wolf belonged until 1892 to the Synod of Trier, which itself, until 1843, bore the name “Synod of Wolf” because that was the superintendent’s home.
The council is made up of 22 council members, who were elected by proportional representation at the municipal election held on 25 May 2014, and the honorary mayor as chairwoman.
The Mayor is Heide Pönnighaus.
The town’s arms might be described thus: Per fess enhanced, chequy of eighteen gules and argent a horse trotting sable and chequy of twenty-four argent and gules on a mount of three vert in base a round tower Or with six windows, three and three, and an arched doorway, of the second, and a conical roof of the third.
The checkerboard pattern (“chequy”) was the arms borne by the Counts of Sponheim. Above the line of partition is a black horse, whose attitude is “trotting” for a reason: this makes it a canting charge, for the German word for “trot” is traben – part of the town’s hyphenated name. Traben’s name, however, which comes from a Celtic name, Traven, a description of a small settlement, has nothing whatsoever to do with a horse. The tower below the line of partition stands for the local castle in Trarbach and therefore for Trarbach itself.
The arms have been borne since 1951.
Traben-Trarbach fosters partnerships with the following places:
For decades there were motorboat races on the Moselle, but the 32nd and thus far last racing event was held in 1996. At these races, many world and European champions were crowned, among them, in 1964, the well known Berlin motorboat racer and builder Dieter König.
Traben-Trarbach is home to a large number of wineries including Robert Heuser, F. W. Langguth Erben, Richard Böcking, Ulrich Langguth, Martin Müllen, Weiser-Künstler and Daniel Vollenweider.
Through Traben-Trarbach, until 31 December 1962, ran the Moseltalbahn (railway), locally known as the Saufbähnchen. The railway station building on the Trarbach side was torn down during expansion work on Bundesstraße 53.
In Traben, across the river on the left bank is found the terminal station on the Moselwein-Bahn (“Moselle Wine Railway”), which runs to Bullay. The old station building, built in 1904 on the model of old Traben timber-frame houses, is still standing and serves today as the mayor’s seat and as an event venue. The new stop was moved 150 m downstream to the area where the former goods station once was.
In 1956, a sport airfield (Flugplatz Traben-Trarbach/Mont Royal) on Traben’s mountain, Mont Royal, was built (ICAO-Code: EDRM).
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport is ca. 17km (on foot) to the east of Traben-Trarbach.
Traben-Trarbach is located on both sides of river Moselle. The town is connected via three bridges.