I spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Koblenz! What a wonderful place this was, especially with the sun out and the people enjoying the final day of the annual City Festival. A beautiful as Koblenz is, I left believing that any given Sunday is a good one to spend there.
As river cities go, Koblenz sits on prime real estate, unencumbered by industrial creep. It sits at the confluence of two of Germany's major rivers -- the Rhein and the Mosel. It is an old city (monuments in the city declare its two-thousandth anniversary back in 1992), but its character is definitely influenced by the wine country sitting to the west and the construction of the Deutsches Eck -- the 'German Corner'. Shown in the first photo, the barge-sized Eck is graced by the massive sculpture of Emporer Wilhelm I, and decorated with the flags of the empire's early provinces.
One might think it would take an airplane get this view. Naw, it was easy. The Rhein and Mosel Rivers cut such a deep valley that all I had to do was go up the nearby cliff to the Ehrenbreitstein Castle, shown in the second photo. I was joined by about two hundred other avid photographers all vying to get the 'perfect' angle of the Eck.
Getting up there was easy. Note the old government building at the lower right of the second photo. Just off the photo to the right was a dock for a ferry boat that crossed every twenty minutes, 1.20 Euro per person. The next step was to follow the signs for a couple blocks and through an impressive set of caves to take the Sesselbahn, an old open-air chairlift that was not for the acrophobic. That thing was scary! But no problem, before I knew it I was high above the Eck enjoying the view.
I found there was much more to Ehrenbreitstein than the view. Sprawled along the ridgeline, it was an impressive maze of battlements. I walked as much of the maze as I could, some of it taking me deep underground. It was clearly recently renovated, judging from the spots where the concrete tunnels looked freshly poured. There were few open exhibits -- entering the museum is an additional charge -- so I didn't stay long.
After climbing back down, I went straight to the Eck to enjoy the converse view -- which produced the Ehrenbreitstein photo. I was surprised to find that the base of the monument was an observation deck that you could climb into. It gave me a great view of the rivers.
The Rhein side of the river and the beginning of the Mosel comprises a nice park, graced by several impressive statues. One of them was called "Vater Rhein Mutter Mosel" -- "Father Rhein, Mother Mosel" -- which seemed quite appropriate. But further up the Mosel, the city wall appears with the city sitting several floors above the ground. Later on, I encountered a picture that explained why this was necessary. The Deutsches Eck got flooded on occasion, most recently in 1993 according to a photo I encountered somewhere in the city (I cannot remember exactly where).
I took the stairs leading past the Koblenz Castle, a simple 13th-Century house as "castles go" with a pleasant flowered garden. In fact, I found a number of the attractions on the tourist map -- the Kauf-und-Danzhaus next door and the Metternich House across the street in the Muenzplatz -- to be subdued in color and style compared with the 'ordinary' buildings I found in the city streets.
That was, when I was able to navigate the city streets! The downtown was absolutely mobbed with people, so densely packed that walking down Koblenz's very tight streets was slow-going. Food, drink, and music were everywhere. I took about a half-dozen pictures of the crowd, but I wasn't so lucky with the sun and shadows -- the third picture that shows a part of the festival doesn't do the crowd justice. Each of the city's four marketplaces hosted different concerts when I passed by -- the Liebfrauenkirche hosted modern dance, Am Plan held traditional German music, the Rathausplatz jazz, and the Loerenstrasse hard rock. Unlike most festivals, this served almost as a clearinghouse sale. One shop had an outdoor special on lawnmowers, another on telescopes, another on exotic lingerie. This wasn't your typical bratwurst-and-beer sort of affair.
It was amazing to me how they could hold sidewalk sales on streets that were four-people wide, but so be it. I took my time by buying a bratwurst or plate of pommes-frites in each market square, a way of taking a break and catching my breath after fifteen minutes of sardining. The end of my festing came as I reached the Goerresplatz across town. The Goerresplatz, shown in the fourth photo, is dominated by a large obnoxious-looking fountain. (I have noticed that large obnoxious fountains are quite common in western Germany -- so much so that I may devote time to a feature on them some time.)
There were parts of the city that I had to skip over because there just wasn't enough time before I had to head home. (Which of course means I have to go back some day!) I was able to swing by the Weindorf (fifth photo), a wine village reminiscent of some of the wine towns along the Mosel to the west. It's more than the main building I show in the photo, it includes several buildings of similar construction arranged in a city block adjacent to the Pfaffendorfer Bridge (which is a great place for a shot of the Ehrenbreitstein, too). I had to skip two other castles/fortresses, too -- the Kurfuertliches Schloss near the Weindorf, and the Constantine Fortress just out the back side of the train station.
A Sunday afternoon was definitely not enough time to do Koblenz. It's a much, much bigger place than I thought it was, and absolutely worth a visit -- even if just for the German Corner alone. If you do decide to visit Germany's great wine country along the Mosel River, you could do worse than begin at the Mosel's end, in Koblenz.
Trip taken 15 September 2002 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin