On this, our second full day of river cruising, we will make two stops. This morning we will stop at Koblenz at the intersection of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. The intersection is known as the Deutsches Eck (German Corner) and a large statute of Wilhelm I who united the German Empire marks the corner. The statute was “reduced to rubble” in 1945, the mount left as a reminder. A replica of the statute was mounted in 1993. The site attracts 2 million visitors a year.
Boris is an early riser and he was up to have breakfast and be on deck to see our boat pass the corner. We diverted from the Rhine and our boat is docked along the Moselle River. Uniworld offers at least one include tour each day, but today there are even more offerings. Passengers can (at no additional cost) take a walking tour of Koblenz or can walk pass the German Corner and board the cable car up to the fortress, crossing over the Rhine River and giving fabulous ariel views.
I really wanted to take the cable car and Boris agreed. With the tour group, we walked along the Koblenz waterfront and past the German corner to reach the cable car station along the Rhine. The cable car is very smooth and the views were fabulous. From the top of the cable station, it is a short walk to “Ehrenbreitstein, Europe’s second-largest preserved fortress.” The cable car was actually added in 2011 not to reach the fortress but for a horticultural exhibit.
A castle was erected on this spot around 1000 and it was converted to a fortress in the 16th century. The structure in existence today is a reconstruction of the fortress destroyed by the French in 1801. The French blew it up when they had to retreat from this side of the Rhine. The present structure has been occupied by the Prussians, The French, Americans, and the Germans. The structure is pretty impressive. We saw only one location that sustained damage during WWII.
There are multiple museums to visit. The location is also used for concerts. Perhaps the best reason to visit the fortress is to enjoy the views from the cable car up and down and the fabulous views of the German Corner.
After the cable ride down, we wandered around Koblenz enjoying what had become a rather warm day. Lunch was on the ship while still docked at Koblenz. Some of the passengers were riding the complimentary bikes the 14 miles to our next stop, Boppard. The boat will move in the afternoon. Uniworld also offered a optional tour of Marksburg Castle in the afternoon. Boris and I are going. We will join the boat in Boppard at the end of our tour. Anticipating tomorrow’s cruise through the castle viewing section of the middle Rhine, we thought it would be fun to actually visit a castle.
We took a bus to to Marksburg Castle, passing two other castles on the way. From bus parking we had a like hike up to begin the tour. Marksburg Castle has been lived in for 700 years and is the only hill castle on the Rhine that has never been destroyed. On the Riders’ Staircase, you see the family crests of those that dominated the castle in chronological order through 800 years of history.
We had an interesting guide who walked us through the castle, locking us in and out of sections of the castle as we moved through. There have been additions to the structure over time. The castle even had multiple moats, now used for growing herbs and flowers.
You have to pass through four gates. The first was the drawbridge gate with its slate floor. Just past this gate is the visitors center, gift shop, and refreshment terrace. The tour (and the locking in and out) begins at the Fox Gate and after that it is just a short walk to the Notches Gate. As you pass through Notches Gate you see a balcony (machicolation) where rocks were thrown onto invaders that made it this far. Just beyond this gate is the Riders’ Staircase with the family crests. Beyond are the batteries with several canons positioned out to the Rhine. There are wonderful views of the river and beyond from this vantage point.
The tour takes you through many areas of the castle from the wine cellar, bed chamber, banquet hall, great hall, even a medieval privy (toilet). The armory and forge are included, as well as the old stables where torture devices are on display. The interior painting was interesting, especially in the small chapel.
When the tour was concluded (and we were locked out of the castle), we decided a break on the terrace with the lovely views would be perfect. Unfortunately the day had gotten so hot that we decided to walk down the hill instead in hopes that the air conditioning in the bus was on.
We passed the boat as we reached Boppard and waited on the shore as they completed the docking process. The cruise director then offered a walking tour of the picturesque village where we will be docked for the night. I needed some pharmacy items, so I also did a little roaming on my own.
Tomorrow morning we begin the middle section of the Rhine where there are more than 20 castles viewable from the water during a 4 hour cruising tour. We passed/saw three castles today between Koblenz and Boppard. This is my primary reason for choosing this itinerary. Can’t wait.