Ahrweiler- Koblenz

Wednesday 11 September 2019   – 15 September 2019 – Ahrweiler- Koblenz 

Ahrweiler

Ahrweiler is a wine region about 40 kilometres from Bonn and is located in the valley of the river Ahr, a tributary of the Rhine.

vineyards growing on the hillsides of Ahrweiler

After walking through the small town, we visited Roemervilla, a museum which shows the excavation area of the mansion of a Roman estate from the 2nd to the 3rd century, covering more than 1,000 square metres. As you walk through you can see the preserved walls with their colourful murals, a bathing facility, a kitchen and completely preserved underfloor heating systems. Walking through the ruins of the ancient rooms gives a very detailed insight into the provincial Roman life almost 2,000 years ago. It is unbelievable to think that a landslide which buried the ancient walls in the 5th century AD helped them to survive like a time capsule.

Ahrweiler is a very attractive medieval town almost entirely encircled by a wall with four gates and criss crossed by pedestrianised lanes lined with half-timbered houses. A gorgeous little village.

Interesting:

  • basket woven pot plants in the shapes of tractors
  • a vending machine which is filled with a huge variety of sausages and meats situated underneath the city walls

We left Ahrweiler and drove to Koblenz, where we stayed in a campsite where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet. The view from here is spectacular.

To reach the town of Koblenz we caught a small ferry across the Moselle river to the German Corner.

ferry to Koblenz town centre

Koblenz

Koblenz is about 60 kilometres from Ahrweiler and built on both sides of the Rhine Valley. The old town spreads out from the Deutsches Eck or German Corner, where the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet.

We took a ride on Germany’s most modern cable car, rising from the Rhine promenade to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress mountain station. The view overlooking the city and the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers is absolutely stunning. Apparently, it was only to be a temporary structure for the Koblenz Flower Show in 2011 but, due to a petition signed by 100,000 people, it will remain until 2026. The reason for its temporary status has to do with the UNESCO Heritage listing of the area.

Upon reaching the top of the Ehrenbreitstein plateau we alighted and walked to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress where we obtained an audio guide. Using the guide, we strolled around one of the largest preserved fortresses in Europe, built by the Prussians between 1817 and 1828. The fortress has a rich history, with attacks being made from Napoleon’s forces. With its strategic location near Koblenz and the Rhine River, the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress again became a stronghold for keeping back any future invaders. By World War I, it was used as a military headquarters, and was almost destroyed following the peace treaty, which commanded Germany to disarm. However, an American general recognized the historic importance of the fortress and it was spared from destruction.

During World War II the fortress was used for the peaceful purpose of safeguarding important artefacts and papers. Today the fortress is home to the Landesmuseum. In 1972 a memorial was inaugurated for the dead from both world wars and is integrated into the triangular, twelve-metre-high Ravelin. The complex is massive, and the architecture is very unique with its stone arches. We were there for over 2 ½ hours and still did not see the entire complex.

Koblenz Tourist Information Walking Tour

As we had visited Koblenz before, we decided to go on a walking tour to see the sites which are not necessarily in a guidebook. We noticed that there was a carnival atmosphere around the town with a lot of people, stalls, tents and rides set up in various squares.

The guide explained that this weekend is the 43rd SchängelMarkt and is the largest folk and city festival in northern Rhineland-Palatinate. There is live music and entertainment, arts and crafts and it lasts for three days. Even the retail trade in the city centre is open on Sunday from 1-6pm, which only happens once a year.

The sights of Koblenz:

Am Plan square was originally used as a marketplace and tournament site. In the northern part of the square are preserved buildings from the 18th century, one was the fire station, until 1973 and the other is the oldest restaurant in Koblenz which was still operating until 2017 when a fire destroyed the inside.  At present it is being rebuilt and is fenced off.

Plaque Bombardments Koblenz

This plaque commemorates the bombardments and the rebuild of Koblenz. From April 1944 on, Koblenz suffered from 40 air raids. Eighty seven percent of the centre was destroyed on 6 November 1944. About 1000 people were killed.

The Four Towers are an ensemble of four historic buildings in the old town at the intersection of the streets from Roman times. The name Four Towers comes from an ornate bay window attached to each house, which were built in 1608 and restored after destruction in 1688 between 1689 and 1692. In 1950, a passage with arches was built into one of the corners to give pedestrians safety when the tram bent around the corner from 1899-1967.   Another building housed a pharmacy from 1730 until the 2000s. The house with the plants and cherubs on the bay survived as the bombing raids of the Second World War almost unscathed and the fourth building, with guns, banners, muskets and horns is where the police were stationed.

Stolpersteine or stumbling blocks

In Koblenz we found more copper plaques in the pavement in front of a house which indicated the fate of a family of three in the Holocaust. Once again, we bent in front of the plaque to read this families fate and again a somber feeling occurred.

Statue for Annemarie Stein (nicknamed “Pfefferminzje”), is a well-known citizen of Koblenz. According to the legend, the well-known woman would make her rounds of the bars in the city, to find the necessary money to feed the unowned dogs and cats of the town. Among her goods were Peppermints, which are called Pfefferminz in German. Because she was missing some teeth, she had trouble pronouncing the word correctly and that’s how she got her nickname and was known all throughout the town. She died in 1940. She was considered eccentric. 

Do not stand in front of the Schängelbrunnen Fountain!  It features a little boy who periodically spits water a surprising distance to catch people unaware. In history, the city of Koblenz has been claimed by both the French and German countries. When it was part of France the local people were required to use French names for their children, which included Jean (pronounced John), which morphed into Schangel. It was used in a somewhat derogatory fashion to describe the little boys born to Koblenz women by French men during the many French occupations. This fountain is in memory of the time when the city was French, and the little boy a prankster. It is a very cute fountain and the water travels different distances at periodic times to catch viewers by surprise. 

Throughout Koblenz streets there are many plaques embedded in the cobblestones depicting Schängel which also has a connection to the SchängelMarkt.

Augenroller (Eye Roller)

The town clock in Saint Florin’s market has an eye-rolling clock. The face’s eyes roll back and forth as the pendulum moves, marking the passage of time. When the clock strikes the hour or half hour, the whimsical sheet metal man sticks out his tongue to mock the good citizens of Koblenz. It’s adorned with an image that according to local lore represents Johan Lutter, a 16th century robber.  It depicts the gruesome yet morbidly comical expression Lutter supposedly made in his final moments before he lost his head in 1536.  Some legends even say he continued to roll his eyes and wiggle his tongue after his head lay severed from his body. It seems German clockmakers try to add something to their clock to make it original.

Deutsches Kaiser is the oldest building in Koblenz built around 1490. Originally the building stood on the city wall in a house front. It was converted into an inn and named after the German Emperor and retains this name today. To make it more stable they added another building to it and turned it into a restaurant. 

They added a building beside to help with the lean of the wall

Berlin Wall

There are three sections of the Berlin Wall which were placed close to the walkway leading to the German Corner as a reminder of Germany’s reunification in 1990.

original sections from the Berlin Wall

German Corner is an artificially raised headland at the confluence of the Moselle into the Rhine. In 1897 a monumental equestrian statue of German Emperor Wilhelm I was built here.  Unfortunately, in 1945, an allied tank which was directly opposite the monument on the other bank, accidentally fired a shot which damaged the base which caused his head to dislodge. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, the headless statue was finally replaced by a 37-metre-high monument to represent the unity of Germany as a country. The inscription on the original base of the statue translated states: ‘Never will the Empire be destroyed so long as you are united and loyal’. The area of the monument is enormous, with stairs and a small tower underneath the statue and is a very popular spot for German people and visitors as it is the meeting place of Father Rhine and Mother Moselle.

The original head of Wilhelm I is now located at the Rhine Museum next to the tourist information. Since 2002 the area from the German Corner to 25 kilometres upstream on the Rhine (going south ) is part of the UNESCO World Heritage ‘Upper Middle Rhine Valley’.

Jesuitenplatz (Jesuit Square) comes from the religious order of the same name, which operated in the area from 1580 to 1773. They took over from an order of Cistercian nuns founded in the 13th century and used it as a convent school. On the side of the building are two sets of bells which play a German song every hour and at Christmas time they play Christmas tunes. Whilst we were there, we heard the bells play a German tune. It only lasts for about 30 seconds but is quite pleasant.

Also, in this square is the Town Hall. On the roof of this building are 24 windows which during December become the advent calendar. What a novel idea and one we would love to see.

the little red windows at the top are the advent calendar

Historiensaeule (History Column) is a fountain which was completed in 2000 and is over 10 metres high. It tells the 2000-year history of the city of Koblenz in ten scenes from the time of the Romans, the French, the Prussians, the destruction in the Second World War to the present day. A boat loaded with wine barrels forms the base of the column. The episodes are sometimes divided by layers of destruction. The column has a lot of intricate sculptures which are amazing, and the result is spectacular.

Koblenz is a city with narrow cobbled streets, picturesque courtyards and promenades and small architecturally designed squares with numerous cafes and restaurants. It is a very attractive town.

Interesting:

Whilst we were at the fortress, we saw a guy walking his dog and on his back was a backpack for his dog with breathable sections. Only the Germans could think of something unusual but functional.

What will they think of next?

The next day we drove along the Romantic Rhine road to Frankfurt am Main with a stop at Brey.

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