The wine-growing town of Koblenz is located at the entrance to the famous Rhine Gorge, at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers and the meeting point of four mountain ranges. Koblenz has Roman origins, like many of the towns in this part of Germany, and the name today comes from the original ‘Confluentes’.
All Rhine cruises stop here and Koblenz is the jumping off point for various excursions, as well as being an attraction in its own right, and it’s not unusual to see several river cruisers lined up along the bank. Some lines offer day trips along the Moselle to the lovely old town of Cochem, which is worth the effort as the valley is really beautiful, sheer-sided and lined with vineyards, while Cochem itself is overlooked by the dramatic Reichsburg castle.
Back in Koblenz, there is a fair bit to see. The point where the two rivers meet is called the Deutsches Eck (German Corner), guarded by a hefty monument dedicated to Kaiser Wilhelm I. You can easily wander around the old town, a cluster of pretty squares and ancient buildings, not least the staggeringly old St. Castor’s Church, dating back to 836 and the Liebfrauenkirche and St. Florin’s, both 12th century. Whoever installed the town’s ornaments had a sense of humour; look for the face under the clock on the Mittelrhein Museum building – it sticks out its tongue on the hour. Meanwhile, the boy in the Schängelbrunnen Fountain at the City Hall spits water across the square at random.
After a wander and an ice cream, there’s still time to take the cable car across the river to the chunky Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, 118 metres above the river on a cliff. There’s an archaeological display here and various changing exhibitions. It’s worth the trip, if only for the magnificent views of the confluence and the ships below.
Keep time aside for a glass or two in one of the many wine taverns. One of the biggest is the Weindorf, a rambling restaurant of reconstructed half-timbered houses on the banks of the river, serving traditional German dishes. May and June are asparagus season and you’ll find entire asparagus-themed menus.