Koblenz Things to Do Tips by Nemorino Top 5 Page for this destination
Koblenz Things to Do: 209 reviews and 318 photos
1. Florinsmarkt with theaters and museum
These historic buildings house the Middle Rhine Museum, which features romantic paintings of scenes in the Rhine Valley, and two small theaters, the Kammerspiele and the Studio-Bühne.
Several years ago I saw a very funny performance here of the operetta Die lustigen Niebelungen (The Merry Nibelungs) by Oscar Straus (1870-1954), an incredibly talented Austrian composer who is not related to any other composer you might have heard of.
This operetta from the year 1904 is a biting but very melodic spoof of Wagner's Ring and of German militarism an arrogance during the reign of Emperor Wilhelm II. It was a huge success in theaters all over Germany and Austria for the first four years, until in 1908 right-wing nationalists started demonstrating violently against it, calling it a "mockery of our people's most splendid possession, our Nibelung saga, the mightiest work of world literature in general." Theater directors were quickly intimidated by the violence and removed The Merry Nibelungs from their programs.
Straus nonetheless did very well with his forty or so other operettas and musicals, not only in Germany and Austria, but later also in France and America. When he had to flee from the Nazis he first went to France and became a French citizen, and later did the same in America, where he composed some very successful film scores and Broadway musicals like The Chocolate Soldier.
For more on Oscar Straus and some of his contemporaries, please see my tip/review called The lost generation of opera composers on my Zürich page.
Second photo: The Middle Rhine Museum and one of the theaters.
Third photo: Back view of the Middle Rhine Museum, on the Moselle River.
Address: Florinsmarkt 15-17, D-56068 Koblenz
The # 1 bus stops at Florinsmarkt.
Phone: 02 61-129 25 20
Memorial on Reichensperger Platz
This memorial to the victims of Nazi terror was set up on Reichensperger Platz, near the theater, after years of campaigning by a local citizens' group.
It was dedicated on August 23, 2001, in the presence of several Holocaust survivors from Jewish families who formerly lived in Koblenz.
1. Obelisk and theater
Prince Elector Clemens Wenzeslaus of Saxony (1739−1812) was the ruler of this area for a quarter century at least. He was also the Archbishop of Trier and the Bishop of Augsburg, which in those days was no contradiction. In 1786 he officially set up Residence in Koblenz, where he commissioned this public theater the same year. The obelisk in front of the theater, with his name on it, commemorates the inauguration of a new fountain in 1791.
Clemens Wenzeslaus seems to have been quite the enlightened ruler. One indication of this is that he commissioned the theater not only for himself and his courtiers, but for the general public as well. The Latin inscription on the theater reads: "Musis Moribus Et Publicae Laetitiae", which means roughly: "To the muses, morals and public amusement."
Second photo: People gathering outside the theater on Deinhardplatz. The first opera I saw in this theater was a very lively production of Ariadne auf Naxos, by Richard Strauss (1864-1949), done by young singers and actors with lots of energy and enthusiasm.
Third photo: The theater, flanked by the Deinhard sparkling wine company and the Hotel Trierer Hof.
Fourth photo: The theater box office, which is around the corner on Clemensstraße. (The street was named after the Prince Elector, of course.)
Fifth photo: Stage entrance on Clemensstraße, with bicycles.
Address: Deinhardplatz, D-56068 Koblenz
Phone: 0261 - 129 2840 & 2841
Deinhard wine company next to the theater
Right next door to the City Theater on Deinhardplatz is the head office of the Deinhard Wine Company, one of the leading producers of the German sparkling wine known as Sekt.
The company was founded here in Koblenz by Johann Friedrich Deinhard on May 1, 1794, just six months before the French revolutionary army took control of Koblenz and vicinity.
A few years earlier, Prince Elector Clemens Wenzeslaus had set about reforming the wine-growing industry. He ordered the destruction of the inferior grapes that had been grown up to that time, and had them replaced by "good grapes" such as Riesling und Elbling, thus creating the basis for the Moselle and Rhine wines we know today.
The eventual downfall of Clemens Wenzeslaus had to do with the fact that his sister had married into the French royal family, making him the uncle of three French kings. After the French Revolution many French aristocrats took refuge in Koblenz, where the revolutionary army later caught up with them and sent Clemens Wenzeslaus into exile.
The Deinhard people now offer tours of their "cellar-museum" at various unpredictable times which are listed at their front door (but not on their website). The cost of a one-hour tour including one glass of sparkling wine is 5.00 Euros per person. A longer tour including a small sparkling wine tasting costs 7.00 Euros per person and lasts about an hour and a half.
The word "Damenwahl" on their advertising banner means "ladies' choice". This is a word which is used at dances, for instance, when the ladies get to choose their partners for the next dance.
Address: Deinhardplatz, D-56068 Koblenz
Phone: +49 261/911 515 20
1. Ehrenbreitstein from the ferry
One hundred and eighteen meters above the Rhine River is the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, which it its present form was built by the Prussian Army between 1817 and 1832, with huge thick walls that were evidently intended to resist artillery fire.
Anyone fascinated by Prussian militarism could theoretically take a tour of the fortress. The tours begin every hour and are in German, though groups can also arrange (in advance) to have tours in English or French. There is also a video in German, English and French which deals with 19th century military life in the Fortress.
Second photo: Ehrenbreitstein with a tourist ship in the foreground.
Third photo: Looking up at Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.
Fourth photo: Side view of the fortress.
Fifth photo: In one wing of the fortress there is a youth hostel which I can't remember anything about, though I stayed there a mere forty-one years ago.
Take the bus # 9 halfway up the hill to Neudorf/Bergstraße and walk up the rest of the way.
Alte Burg (Old Castle)
This Old Castle, on the Moselle River at the edge of the Old Town, was originally built in the thirteenth century by someone called Heinrich von Finstingen, who at the time ruled this area in his capacity as Prince Elector of Trier.
The building now houses the City Archives.
Address: Burgstraße, 1 D-56068 Koblenz
Directions: The # 1 bus stops at Alte Burg.
The Prince Elector Clemens Wenzeslaus seems to have had an ambivalent attitude towards the Jesuits, but he evidently found them useful and let them stay on in his bailiwick even after they had been banned elsewhere.
When I walked through this square someone was playing the spiritual "When Joshua fit the battle of Jericho" on the carillon of the Jesuit Church.
The statue is of a man named Johannes Müller (1801-1858), a native of Koblenz who became famous in the nineteenth century as a professor of physiology at the Humboldt University in Berlin.
1. Her dog peed on my husband!
This "Coin Square" is where the mint used to be, back in the days when they were allowed to mint their own coins for this region.
This statue is of a jolly market woman talking to a jolly police constable in some jolly earlier century of Koblenz's history. On the statue there is a plaque with a jolly verse in the local dialect, saying that the market woman is complaining to the constable about a neighbor woman whose dog has peed on her husband.
Second photo: Speaking of jolly local traditions, the manhole covers in the Old Town all show a mischievous young boy called the "Koblenzer Schaengel" who was, like so many, a child of a Koblenz mother and a French father during the times when one of the French armies occupied this area. Sometimes all the inhabitants of Koblenz are referred to as "Schängel", though that is no doubt an exaggeration. "Koblenzer Schängel" is also the name of a free weekly newspaper that has been published here since 1964.
Third photo: These paintings, dated 1911, are in a street called Paradies which leads from the Burgstraße to Münzplatz.
Fourth photo: The Marktstraße is a busy auto-free shopping street near the Münzplatz.
Directions: Bus # 1 to "Alte Burg".
1. Deutsches Eck (German Corner)
The name Koblenz comes from a Latin word for confluence, the place where two rivers come together. The Moselle, above, joins the Rhine here at the German Corner.
Second photo: Deutsches Eck with ships on both rivers.
Third photo: This ugly equestrian statue of the militaristic German Emperor Wilhelm I was first set up here in 1897 and was mercifully destroyed by artillery fire at the end of the Second World War. Instead of leaving well enough alone, somebody insisted on raising money to make a replica, which was unveiled in 1993.
Where the Mosel joins the Rhine.
The bus # 1 stops here.
1. In the Koblenz Theater, built 1786/87
In May 2006 I saw a performance here in the Koblenz City Theater of Die weiße Rose (The White Rose) by Udo Zimmermann (born 1943). This is a short opera about the life and death of Hans and Sophie Scholl, a brother and sister who formed an anti-Nazi resistance group called The White Rose in Munich during the Second World War.
In 1943, eight months before the composer was born, Hans and Sophie were caught distributing anti-Nazi leaflets at the university in Munich. They were condemned to death for this, and were executed the same day.
A new production of the same opera, staged by the actor Christoph Quest and featuring Britta Stallmeister as Sophie, will be shown in Frankfurt at the Bockenheimer Depot in March 2007.
The composer Udo Zimmermann is better known as an orchestra conductor and opera manager. He was the General Director (Intendant) of the Leipzig Opera from 1990 to 2001, and held the same post at the Deutsche Oper Berlin from 2001 to 2004.
Second photo: People taking their seats in the Koblenz Theater for Zimmermann's opera.
Third photo: Since this opera is about resistance against the Nazis, they were allowed to use a Nazi flag on the stage. Ordinarily it is illegal in Germany to display any sort of Nazi symbols.
Fourth photo: The upper lobby of the Koblenz theater.
Address: Clemensstraße 5, D-56068 Koblenz
Phone: 0261 - 129 2840 & 2841
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