The confluence of the Rhine with the Moselle gives the historic city of Koblenz its name. Its strategic position was recognised by the Romans, who established a military outpost in 8 BC on the rocky outcrop overlooking where the rivers merge. The Latin ‘confluentes’, subsequently became Covelenz and finally Koblenz.
I’d often driven through central Germany, visiting Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Nuremberg along the way, but had never previously stopped at Koblenz. I was not sure what it offered for a short break for senior travellers.
My first impressions were favourable. The wide riverside promenades around the Old Town were attractive and provided great views of the massive Ehrenbreitstein Fortress which towers over the city centre.
The good news for senior travellers is that there is a cable car that runs from the Old Town up to the Fortress. I was not looking forward to a long trudge up the pathway on the hot sunny day when I visited!
Although there were two or three large cruise boats moored on the Moselle, there was no great throng of tourists; rather the opposite, most of the central area seemed surprisingly relaxed and quiet. There was no difficulty in getting a table at one of the riverfront restaurants.
My Five Highlights of Koblenz
• The Old Town, Altstadt. Although the Old Town is relatively small compared with those in other German cities I’d visited, nevertheless there are some charming streets with baroque and renaissance buildings. The Old Town contains two fine Romanesque churches, the Basilica of St Castor and the Liebfrauenkirche, Church of Our Beloved Lady; both date back to the 13th Century.
•Deutsches Eck, the German Corner. Situated at the point where the two rivers meet, the Deutsches Eck and the 14 metre high mounted-horse Statue of Emperor William I became symbolic of German unity. Historically interesting, but rather too many tourists at this spot.
• Cable Car. Opened in 2010, the cable car sweeps you up from the Old Town over the Rhine to the Fortress 118 metres above. At about €12 for the adult return fare, including entry to the Fortress, this is good value. Even better, we were given 10% discount as ‘pensioners’!
• Fortress Viewing Platform. Before entering the Fortress proper, climb up to the newly constructed wooden viewing platform to get panoramic views over the Rhine and Moselle valleys. The structure has been specially designed to be wheelchair-friendly.
•Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. This alone well justifies a visit to Kolblenz. Fortifications on this site date back 5,000 years, but the present massive structure was built by Prussia between 1817 and 1828. Much of the Fortress is open to the public, with exhibitions at several locations illustrating, for example, the history of the Fortress, local archaeology, regional wine production and the Baroque dining experience. Give yourself plenty of time to visit and stop for refreshment along the way at the restaurant overlooking the city.
If you wish to stay longer in the Koblenz area, and would like to see more historic towns and castles, plus vineyards and gorges, then the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage starts in Koblenz and continues 65km upstream to Bingen.
Getting to Koblenz
I’d driven there in three and a half hours from Europort, having taken the PO Ferry from Hull. Ryanair have flights to Hahn airport from Stansted and Edinburgh. Shuttle buses run from Hahn airport to Koblenz, with a single fare of about €11. As already mentioned, cruise boats harbour in Koblenz and this is the way many visitors arrive in the city.
Staying in Koblenz
Of the large hotel chains, only Accor has hotels in Koblenz, a Mercure and an Ibis, both situated within easy walking distance of the Old Town. Otherwise trivago can be used to get a good rate at one of the many independent hotels, including the attractive, river-front Hotel Haus Morjan.