Our next stop was the city of Koblenz, a city modern in some ways but steeped in history.
Koblenz is a traditional German town that was founded more than 2000 years ago. The oldest building in Koblenz is the Basilica of St Castor, from 836 and in 1216 the Teutonic Knights set up their first base here. It is situated at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers in the largest German state of Bavaria. At this point where the two rivers meet, is a massive statue of Kaiser Wilhelm, known as Deutsches Eck. The cobblestone streets, flower boxes in windows and medieval churches are so typical of this area of Germany and, bring memories of the fairy-Germany of old. Across the Rhine from the city is Ehrenbreitstein, a fortress built by the Prussians and it was the largest in Europe.
We had arrived just before midday and so, it was after lunch that we did our walk around the city. had rained before we arrived and so the roads were full of puddles. The inclusive walk was, as usual, to the Old City which proved to be very interesting. We had visited Koblenz in 2010 but did not get to do this tour. We had taken the cable car over the Rhine and to the top of a hill to visit the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. I shall leave you to read about it as this blog is about our visit to the Altestadt of Koblenz.
We started at the Deustches Eck, a truly impressive statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I who had led the Germans to victory over the Prussians and the unification of Germany. Since the 9th century Germany had consisted of many small, independent Kingdoms ruled by Princes even though there was an Emperor. With the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century came better transport links, bringing the people of the different small states closer, and Germany’s success in the Franco-Prussian war brought a wave of nationalism and the unification of Germany was achieved. The monument is 37 metres high with 14 metres being the height of the statue. I am not sure how or why some people climb on to it.
We walked down the riverside road and came to the Basilica of St Castor. He was a 4th century priest and hermit who, with others set up a established a religious community on the Moselle River. The Basilica is the oldest church in Koblenz, previously known as Confluenta by the Romans due to the confluence of the 2 rivers. It was built between 812 and 836 with the support of Louis, the Pious. He was the son of Charlemagne and was the longest reining Emperor, 26 years, until the reign of Henry IV who reigned for 50 years. St Castor’s has been through a number of construction changes and designs over the centuries as well as having been damaged in a battle in 1199. It was only raised toBasilica status in 1991 by Pope John Paul II.
Continuing along the river front we came to the Electoral Palace. It was originally home to royalty but today it is an administrative building. We were not able to go inside but admired the gardens as we went past. From there we wandered into the Altestad or Old City itself. It is always amazing to see buildings which have been preserved for 100s of years and those which have been damaged, restored and not demolished. On each of the four corners where 2 streets meet are 4 houses dating from the 17th century. They have the most interesting architecture, each with a turret on top. One has been a pharmacy for hundreds of years, another was once a police station, the purpose of the third is not known but the fourth had a very special purpose. It provided a safe means of turning the corner when a tram passed. All 4 have been damaged in wars but lovingly restored and together are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Jesuits built a Monastery in Koblenz between 1613 and 1617. It was destroyed during WWII and only the facade facing the small square, Jesuitplatz, remains. There is a beautiful Wheel Window above the door of the monastery and on a wall is a chain of bells looking very attractive. In the centre of the square is a statue of Johannes Müller, a physiologist, comparative anatomist, herpetologist and ichthyologist, who made a number of discoveries.
In another square, the Gȍrresplatz, named after Josef Gȍrres, a publicist and historian, there is a most interesting sculpture called the History Column with a fountain as its base. Next to it is a board explaining the reliefs on the column.
Other interesting buildings we saw were the Rathaus or Council Building, the Florinskirche which was the first Protestant Church in Koblenz , being consecrated in 1820 after a checkered history since 1100, and a museum.
What is lovely about many German towns are all the sculptures and statues around the town. We saw a fruit seller with a policeman, a monument to Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa, a statue of a peasant woman who was known for feeding the local feral cats and, most fun of all, a statue of a young boy who would spew water at you every 5 minutes or so. It is called the Schängelbrunnen and while we stood there we watched a young woman, who clearly had not been told about the spewing of water, stand right in front of it to take a photo. She got a real fright when water came spewing at her.
There was so much more that we saw but it would make this blog far too long.