Lifestyle, culture and leisure
At the famous Deutsches Eck, or German Corner, where the Rhine and Moselle converge, lies one of Germany's oldest and most beautiful towns – Koblenz. Vineyards, forests and four mountain ranges form the backdrop to the city, whose 2,000-year history has given rise to beautiful churches and castles, palatial residences and grand town houses.
The Romans, and later the Teutonic Order, were among the first to prize the majestic scenery of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. More recently UNESCO has recognised the area's outstanding beauty by awarding it world heritage status. Central to this heritage is the Deutsches Eck at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle. In 1891 Kaiser Wilhelm II deemed this historic landmark, given its name by the knights of the Teutonic Order, the perfect site for a special monument. Here people could give thanks to his grandfather, Wilhelm I, the man who unified the German Empire. Alas, the statue was reduced to rubble in 1945, and in May 1953 Theodor Heuss, President of West Germany, declared the remaining plinth a poignant monument to German unity. Finally, in 1993, a replica of the statue was raised into position on the plinth, where it towers majestically over the two rivers at a height of 37 metres. Every year the impressive structure attracts more than two million visitors. Towering on the opposite side of the Rhine is Ehrenbreitstein, Europe's second-largest preserved fortress. At nearly 120 metres above the river, this is the perhaps the best place to enjoy views of Koblenz. Just beyond the fortress lies the site of the 2011 Federal Horticultural Exhibition, now a popular public park and outdoor venue. The cable car built especially for the show is still in operation, transporting visitors back to the western bank of the Rhine – the perfect place to begin a leisurely stroll through the beautiful old quarter.
French joie de vivre and German tradition have produced a truly unique cultural fusion in Koblenz, characterised by cosy wine taverns, a genuinely welcoming atmosphere and great food – from gourmet cuisine to hearty fare. People come to Koblenz from all over the world to soak up this charm amid the narrow lanes, tucked-away corners and delightful city squares. A stroll through the old quarter could begin at the four towers, as the oriels of four baroque houses are known – one on each corner of the area's main street crossing. At the Hauptwache guardhouse from 1689, guns, flags, muskets and horns serve as a reminder of the soldiers who carried out police duties here. Further along is the Schängel fountain, which stands in the courtyard of the town hall. This famous landmark harks back to the time around 1800, when Koblenz belonged to France and a conspicuously large number of boys were christened Jean – which became Schang and then Schängel in the local dialect. We can only assume that some of these boys must have been rascals, because at irregular intervals the figure in the fountain spits out a powerful stream of water onto unsuspecting passers-by! The Deutscher Kaiser is also worth a visit. This is not another monument as its name might suggest, but a Gothic tower house that now boasts a delightful restaurant on the ground floor. It's the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of fine wine before taking the ferry to Stolzenfels Castle. Your boat passes by the Electoral Palace en route to this most impressive example of early Prussian art and cultural history. The people of Koblenz appreciate contemporary art as well, as is clear from the Ludwig Museum close to the Deutsches Eck. Its collection contains mainly post-1945 art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Jean Dubuffet, Pierre Soulages and Serge Poliakoff to name but a few. It's such an exciting contrast: modern art in medieval walls, classics of the modern age in a captivating historical city. But don't take our word for it. Come and see for yourself!
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