Koblenz! "See it and learn to laugh!"

Poet Clemens Brentano used to rhapsodise about the Rhine. And the same could apply to Brentano’s home town of Koblenz, where the Moselle and the Rhine meet at the famous Deutsches Eck. Admittedly, when Kurt Tucholsky wandered around after a few glasses of wine, he found it hard to smile for a while. The area was “much too pretty for this stone monstrosity.” He was referring to the ‘gigantic cake topper’, in other words the monumental statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I on horseback. He was a pacifist, so was not cheered by a glance up at Ehrenbreitstein Fortress either.

He would have loved it today. The military stronghold in Koblenz has been transformed into a cultural centre without equal. Even getting there is poetry itself, as Brentano wrote: “I float here and there along the Rhine….” A steep cable-car ride above the water in glass pods. As you ride up to the rocky plateau at 112 metres, the massive strategic importance of this position between the Eifel, Taunus, Westerwald and Hunsrück becomes clear.

A cable-car ride over the Rhine, Koblenz

Fantastic views from a cable-car ride over the Rhine, Koblenz

Exploring the fortress with its 5,000 years of history of glamour and glory, power and pain is an exciting adventure. The costume guided tours are very entertaining, especially ‘The Humfrey file’. John H. Humfrey was a clever royal English officer who managed to spy out the whole military exclusion zone in around 1830. In plain clothes made from the finest yarn.

The story surrounding the ‘Greiff’, a magnificent 16th century cannon, is of a whole different calibre. It changed owners between Germany and France from one war to the next. Since the Second World War, it has belonged to the French and is on permanent loan to Ehrenbreitstein as a pacifist symbol of friendship.

Schängelbrunnen in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

Schängelbrunnen fountain spitting water in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

This is fitting really, because former French premier Giscard d’Estaing was a ‘Schängel’ by birth, which is what the people of Koblenz call themselves. All of them. Schängel comes from the name Jean, a name given to lots of children born 200 years ago when Koblenz belonged to France….

The exhibitions in the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress centre of culture  alone are worth the trip. WeinReich, for example, provides a very tasty history of wine and includes a visit to the wine shop next door.

Simply going for a walk is also worthwhile. Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is full of surprises: it is the place from which spectacular fireworks bathe the ‘Rhine in Flames’ every year and a wonderful backdrop for events such as concerts, markets and sports. And, to top it all off, you just have to enjoy the fantastic view. And laugh!

This is where the gateway to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage Site looks as magical as it once did through the eyes of the Romantics. Including Goethe. But sadly not Tucholsky. There is no other panoramic view more inviting than this. The spires of three Romanesque churches reach up towards the skies. The long riverside promenades and the wine village are perfect for a stroll, and the cosy streets of the old town are perfect for a mooch. This is where you will find the town’s most famous comedy landmark, the Schängel fountain. It brings a smile to everyone’s face. We won’t tell you how.

View of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Koblenz

View of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site, Koblenz

More recommended excursions for culture vultures in Koblenz:

More information about holidays in Koblenz

Find out everything about events, sights and more destinations in Koblenz at Koblenz-Touristik GmbH.

Public city tours in Koblenz

Whether out and about with the market woman Lisbeth, with the Koblenz night watchman or during a stroll wine tasting through the old town - get to know Koblenz from its most diverse sides.

Basilica of St. Kastor

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Schängel Fountain

Koblenz The "Schängel" is the symbol and nickname of the Koblenz population.

William Turner - Standort 01

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