Koblenz, the city where the Mosel and Rhine meets, has undergone a major face-lift over the last 5 years. It has changed so dramatically, in fact, that many people would not recognize it today. And that's not just me staying it either. I met many tourists during my trip who were surprised by "the new Koblenz."
Most people visiting it simply know of Koblenz as the romantic city on the German corner, where the two rivers meet. That alone has been reason enough to draw many tourists over the years.
But now, after the city's phenomenal transformation for the 2011 National Garden Show, the reasons to visit Koblenz have multiplied. At least ten fold, I'd say.
The walking paths along the rivers have been entirely renewed. Streets throughout the city have been redone. Tourist information sites and signposts have been placed throughout the city. Additional transportation infrastructure, such as the gondola over the river to the fortress, has also been added. It's never been easier to get around Koblenz.
Getting around Koblenz was so easy, and the city's sites were so beautiful, that I could have easily taken this all for granted. Had I not been told how much the city has transformed over the last five years, I would have assumed this had always been so!
The fact is, though, that the city has spent millions and millions of Euros transforming the city back into this glorious jewel on the German Corner.
One of my favorite sites, the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, was itself a multimillion dollar transformation. In the past, I was told that inside the Fortress could not be toured, and it could only be viewed from the outside. What a shame that would have been, because the Fortress is filled with stories that now come to life through its many exhibitions and displays.
Among the fortress' numerous beautiful and informative exhibitions, the exhibition that is the city's pride and joy is the Peter Joseph Lenné exhibit. He is the same gardener and landscape architect who designed the famous Sansoucci Palace gardens in Potsdam. (You'll recall how much I loved Potsdam's palaces and gardens!) However, Koblenzers like to say that Lenné practiced his craft first in Koblenz. And that he wouldn't have become so great had he not practiced there first! I believe them. Because his work in Koblenz was not at all amateur! The new exhibition at Ehrenbreitstein is truly one not to be missed.
Certainly, a person could easily spend an entire afternoon, or even a full day, touring the Fortress and all of its exhibitions. I had to pull myself away from the Fortress, as I knew there was so much more of the city that I wanted to see. Like Stolzenfels Castle itself, and the grounds designed by Lenné. Actually, the entire experience of Stolzenfels begins with the walk up to the castle. Even though the castle dates back hundreds of years, Lenné was hired during one the castle's many transformations. And when he designed the gardens and pathways, he very deliberately designed an "experience." His concept for landscaping the entire estate was for people entering the castle to gradually, and very beautifully, "follow the light and emerge into it at the entrance to the castle." I highly recommend a visit to the Koblenz castle, and the more time you spend there the better.
The lazy day touring Koblenz fortress and another day slowly meandering around the castle (and becoming mesmerized by the views from all of the windows) are definite highlights of my time in Koblenz.
And much of this was not possible just a few years ago.
So, you should really go. If you've ever been wondering about Koblenz, just go. You won't regret it!
Coming Up: a round up of my trip, and more city highlights!