Episode 355 – Koblenz & The Middle Rhine

The last time we were in Koblenz, we visited Marksburg Castle. It was a wonderful tour, but I missed getting to walk to the Deutsches Eck (German Corner), so today we decided to take Viking’s optional walking tour of the town.

Koblenz as viewed from our docking spot on the Rhine side of the Deutsches Eck (German Corner)

A view of the Mosel (German spelling) -facing area of Koblenz, taken from the tip of the Deutsches Eck

Once again, our guide was what made the tour special. Today’s guide in Koblenz was Marc, a young historian – by both education and profession – who was born and raised here.

The inscription below Kaiser Wilhelm’s equestrian statue reads: “Nimmer mehr das Reich zerstört wenn wir einig sind und treu.” Never again will the realm be destroyed if we are united and faithful.

Top: the “German corner” where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet is dominated by the massive statue of Wilhelm I.
Centre: The flags of all 16 German provinces decorate the “corner”.
Bottom: This picture shows Karin next to me in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm statue at the Deutsches Eck. It really lends perspective to the statue’s vast size.

This spot was inhabited all the way back in the stone age, was a Roman settlement, was invaded by Vikings (WAY before our group of Vikings arrived), and lived in by the Germanic Francks, but our guide focussed on mostly post-Middle Ages buildings, and modern German culture. He explained that many German stereotypes are actually Prussian (punctuality and bluntness of speech especially), but admitted that here in his home town people all “love” being told what to do, and following even archaic rules. They clearly have a sense of humour, though, as evidenced by the statues in the town.

The symbol of the town of Koblenz is Schängel (a diminutive of the French/Franckish name Jean, which has become synonymous with “rascal”), whose fountain sporadically spits water on anyone standing within range. Fortunately, the fountain was turned off in preparation for one of the many Christmas market stalls being set up in its vicinity.

Top left: a deceptively jolly looking farm wife chiding the local policeman (not shown) for “peeing” on her wayward husband. Top right: “Henry Resche”, demonstrating civil courage in the face of every danger with wit, humour, and cheekiness. Bottom left: a French thumb located next to the basilica, lined up directly behind the equestrian statue. Make your own conclusions. Bottom right: yup, that’s the finger that Koblenz’ gnomes hold up!

Seriously, though, the town is beautiful, although much of it is not original since it was almost flattened during WWII.

Jesuitenplatz (Jesuit Plaza), was formerly a monastery, school, and church. The church (centre photo) retains its original purpose, but the rest of the building is now the city hall and administrative offices. One of the city’s many Christmas markets was in the process of being set up here. Note the small windows in the roof in the top photo; there are 24 of them, which will be consecutively lit as the city’s Advent Calendar!

As is the case all over Europe, history is layered upon itself. Koblenz’ monument demonstrates this perfectly, starting with the arrival of the Romans at the bottom, and ending with the rebuilt city rising from the bomb smoke at the top. Top right: Stolpersteine can be found here too (see Episode 235). Bottom right: sections of the Berlin Wall, dismantled in 1989/90.

Exterior views of Saint Kastor’s Romanesque church. Unfortunately we were too early in the day to go inside.

Saint Kastor’s exterior had typically sparse decoration, but what was there included very interesting lions, whose style could easily be mistaken for current day.

The other major church (there are many more minor ones) in Koblenz is the Church of our Lady. As indicated on the historic sign, it has been the “mother church” of Koblenz since the year 600, built in 1180 in the late Romanesque style, expanded in the 15th century with Gothic components, with a Baroque tower added in 1693. After being severely damaged in 1944, it was restored by 1957. Its modern windows date to 1992.

Interior views of the Liebfrauenkirche. The 3 tombs pictured at the top are for the last members of the Von Burgtorn family who inhabited the Koblenz Castle until the mid 1500s.

We had free time in the city to walk the very pretty shopping district. At one intersection, these 4 corner buildings intrigued us.

Four towers. Erected 1608. Rebuilt after destruction in 1688 and 1944. The houses are variously dedicated “to Saint Peter”, “the Green Tree” , and “main guardroom”.

Once we reboarded the Magni, it was time for scenic sailing through the middle Rhine, a region replete with castles and vineyards. This is Viking, so there was also a local specialty involved: Rudesheimer coffee: caramelized brown sugar, flambéed Asbach brandy, strong coffee, unsweetened whipped cream, and dark chocolate shavings. Mmmmm.

The statue of Lorelei recalls the German legend of a beautiful maiden who threw herself into the Rhine River in despair over a faithless lover and was transformed into a siren who lured fishermen to destruction. We passed by the famous Lorelei Rock, but despite the speed of the river current here at this narrowest bend in the Rhine, we were not lured into the rocks.

Just a few images of the steeply terraced vineyards that produce those Rhine and Moselle Rieslings that I love so much.

In a 65 km stretch of the Middle Rhine, there are 20 notable castles. That’s one every 3 km/2 miles. From top, castles on the right bank: Marksburg Castle, Sterrenberg Castle, Liebenstein Castle, Maus Castle, Katz Castle, Nollig Castle, and Pfazgraffstein Castle.

Tomorrow we’ll transition to the Main River on our way to the half-timbered city of Miltenberg. More picturesque scenery to come!


  1. Rose, so glad that you always manage to highlight so many things but one that I know those who have not been on a Viking tour might not understand/appreciate is the amazing quality of tour guides. I have no idea how Viking does it but there must be one heck of a vetting process that goes into selecting them because have you ever experienced a bad tour guide?! We’ve been very fortunate to never have experienced a bad Viking tour guide. Also, thanks for bringing back those Koblenz gnome memories!

    Liked by 1 person

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