Koblenz is a crossing point for the Mosel and Rhine river and is best known for its monument at Deutsches Eck or "German Corner". A monument for unified Germany, Koblenz shows off some of Germany's premier attractions from castles to riverfront promenades to regional Rhine-Moselle wine.
This is one of the oldest towns in Germany with a storied medieval history entangled with the Order of the Teutonic Knights and kings and queens. Its strategic location on the river has made it a valuable spot for collecting tolls, as well as a hotly disputed property between Germany and France.
It is now an integral point of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Whether you are just stopping by for a few hours as a break from cruise life, or spending a few days here to explore all that this area has to offer, here are the top 14 things to do in Koblenz, Germany.
Deutsches Eck (German Corner) is the primary landmark for Koblenz. It is dramatically perched at the point between the Rhein and Moselle Rivers with picturesque views of the area.
Its strategic location made it an important point for natural defenses since the Order of Teutonic Knights settled here in 1216. The point is now topped with a 37-meter-tall, 53 ton, copper monument to Emperor Wilhelm I on horseback.
Originally erected in 1897, the monument was damaged during WWII in 1945. For decades, just the base was left. After reunification in 1990 the monument was resurrected with a replica of the original statue plus the addition of 16 flags representing each German lander (states).
Extending from the monument, there are riverfront promenades along both rivers. Along the Mosel promenade there are also three slabs from the Berlin Wall. With cafes and flowerbeds on one side and rushing waters on the other side, you'll have spectacular views in every direction.
This reconstructed city center has cobble-stoned streets and charming squares surrounded by historic buildings.
The rathaus (Town Hall) from 1695 is actually three interconnected buildings from the late Renaissance, early Baroque, and modern periods. It sits on Jesuits Square with gas lanterns, fountains, and statues.
Nearby Florinsmarkt holds the distinctive 12th-century Florinskirche (Florins church). Its twin towers mark the city's skyline. Also on the square is the Altes Kaufhaus (Old Merchants' Hall).
Amongst the century-old buildings there are also more modern structures. Look for the distinctive stylings German Art Nouveau known as jugendstil.
Seated 287 feet high above the banks of the Rhine, Festung Ehrenbreitstein (Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein) is another impressive landmark of Koblenz.
Built on the site of an earlier fortress, it served to protect the middle Rhine. It once held the most valuable relic of the Trier See, the Holy Tunic. Its strategic location made it a continual point of contention between France and Germany, and its massive fortifications made it the largest military fortress in Europe (outside of Gibraltar).
The fortress is now the northernmost point of this UNESCO World Heritage area. Visitors can enjoy the fabulous views from atop the hill or go inside for a bit of history through the audio guide. There are also several museums now within the fortress: Haus der Fotografie and Das Landesmuseum Koblenz which holds sections on archaeology, regional wine and more.
If you are looking for somewhere special to stay, why not stay in the Koblenz youth hostel within the fortress complex? There are private rooms along with bunks, plus a café and bar, playground, and games area.
If you're wondering how you get up to the fortress, the Koblenz Cable Car is the most scenic way to reach the top.
The ride takes you from the banks of the Rhine up to the fortress. Gliding along at 367 feet above the river, it covers a distance of nearly 3,000 feet. It is one of the most efficient cable car systems in the world with large, comfortable cars.
For a little more excitement, car 17 has a glass paneled bottom for dizzying views of the river and city below.
Another castle sits just off the Mosel. Alte Burg (old castle) is from the 13th-century and once served the Electors of Trier. Fortifications date back to Roman times and a wide moat fed by the Mosel flowed around it.
The Basilica of St. Castor (or Kastor in German) is the oldest church in Koblenz. Originally constructed in the 9th century, excavations have shown that the site was in use for religious purposes as far back as the 1st century.
Just a short walk from Deutsches Eck, the elegant Kastorbrunnen (fountain) is in the square in front of the church. It was built in 1812 to commemorate the Napoleonic wars.
The grand basilica also has a fascinating interior. The 12th century paintings are still on display, as is the Dwarf Gallery with its 21 arches and images of Christ as a lion. Down below there are tombs from throughout the centuries.
The unique Forum Confluentes was designed by German-Dutch architects Benthem-Crouwel. It reflects the design of the German Corner and has three points of interest. An arts and cultural center, there is the city library, Romanticum Koblenz, and Mittelrhein-Museum (Middle Rhine Museum).
The Mittelrhein Museum covers the 2,000 years of the region’s history. It includes sculptures, coins, porcelain, furniture, and military paraphernalia. Among its most important assets is its collection of 19th-century paintings of the Rhine by German and British artists.
Romanticum Koblenz covers the romanticism of the region and its UNESCO site attractions. There is a virtual cruise along the Middle Rhine Valley pointing out the various castles and providing tourist Information.
Look for Cheeky Statues
Its not all historic castles and monuments in Koblenz. There are also a surprising number of silly statues and fountains. See if you can find them all.
Schängelbrunnen is a cheeky fountain on Willi-Hörter-Platz of a little boy that randomly spits at people. He is not the only naughty boy on the fountain. The base shows other little hooligans smoking, fighting, and generally being rude. Little Schang is a town icon and can be found on all the manholes and the name "Schängel" can be used to refer to the townsfolk.
The augenroller (eye roller) on the town clock in Saint Florin’s market actually does roll its eyes every half hour and sticks out its tongue.Legend says it is based on Johan Lutter, a 16th century robber that was sentenced to death. For some reason, the people of Koblenz decided he would watch over them, rudely eye rolling and tongue lolling.
Weinhaus Hubertus is one of the oldest half-timbered buildings in Koblenz. This charming restaurant was built in 1689 and was last renovated in 1921.
Inside, there is an open fireplace and dark-wood and classic German cuisine. It is simple and warm and focuses on regional specialties, including the Rhine-Moselle wine. If you prefer, beer is also on tap like Bitburger Pils and Gaffel Kölsch.
In summer, tables appear outside to take advantage of the sunshine and welcoming atmosphere.
The Kurfürstliches Schloss (Electoral Palace) was built as a residence in 1786. It was the last great palace to be built before the French Revolution. The Schloss takes advantage of its position on the river with most rooms looking out at the Rhine Valley.
Today the building is used by city officials, but the art galleries and cafe are open to the public. Outside, the terraced Rheinanlagen (Rhine Gardens) are 2.1 miles of walkways, green space and flowers, and an elegant fountain of Empress Augusta. Every two years, a botanical show is held here.
The Deutschherrenhaus now holds the Ludwig Museum, but was once the property of the Order of the Teutonic Knights.
The museum exhibits post-1945 and contemporary art from France and Germany in a four-floor gallery. Among its most notable offerings is Le Pouce (The Thumb) by César and the installation Dépot de mémoire et d'oubli by Anne and Patrick Poirier.
Located just outside of the city is yet another castle, Schloss Stolzenfels. It was built high above the river to catch sight of all passing boats and extract a toll.
Originally constructed in 1259, it was modified and destroyed and reinforced throughout the centuries. It was last rebuilt in Gothic Revival style. Eventually it became the preferred summer residence of the King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm IV. He entertained such glamorous visitors as Queen Victoria.
The castle is now open to the public with visitors wandering the Great Knight's Hall and royal living quarters with original furnishings and decor. From the ornately sculpted gardens admire spectacular views of the river and valley. To get the most out of your visit, take a guided tour.
Rhein in Flammen (Rhine in Flames) is a multi-city, spectacular firework festival. It takes place in five different destinations (Bonn, Rüdesheim - Bingen, Koblenz, Oberwesel and St.Goar) throughout the summer.
The event in Koblenz is the largest of these celebrations. The event has been held for the last 30+ years and is a highlight of the cruise season, attracting 300,000 visitors each year from river and land.
The next Rhine in Flames event in Koblenz will take place August 11, 2018.