I think I’ve found a favourite European city. Koblenz is just plain lovely. Pete and I had a great time simply wandering around, soaking up the ambience. There are large buildings (churches, palaces, government offices), but wide pavements and beautiful public gardens. The city lies at the junction of the Moselle and the Rhine. At the point where the rivers meet (known as the ‘German Corner’) an enormous statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I, first emperor of Germany, sits on his horse, escorted by a winged woman holding an imperial crown. Not sure if it’s Nike or a Valkyrie. Either way, it was erected after his death. Really, it is a symbol of Germany’s jingoistic attitude, and its proximity to France is no accident. Wilhelm II (Kaiser Bill) was present at the unveiling – roll on WW1. By the way, it’s not the original, which was destroyed during WW2. History of the statue.
The city is dominated by fortress Ehrenbreitstein. A cable car takes you up over the river to the fortress, which has commanding views over the city and beyond. Our guide tried to tell us the place was basically Prussian, but then said Napoleon tried to take it and some Archbishop had fortifications up there. The truth of the matter, as always, is that any warlord would recognise a powerful place for a fortification. They’ve found walls there dating back to one thousand BC, and the Romans certainly saw the importance of this prominent headland. The current buildings are Prussian, since the French blew up what was here in 1801. It’s an impressive series of buildings, with panoramic views over the river junction. Pity the weather was overcast – but hey, you can’t have it all. And we enjoyed a glass of local wine and a pretzel as we surveyed the scene below.
I might add that my feet were feeling the pinch. Apparently there was a movie show that evening. We were to be taken to a local theatre to watch some silent movie clips, accompanied by musicians. I’m sure it was a great idea. But I had trouble getting out of bed that morning, so we agreed to pass. People who did go said it was quite fun – a few minutes of Charlie Chaplin and rather more of Buster Keaton. A bit of cultural nostalgia can be interesting, can’t it?