Castles Along The Rhine is perhaps the most elegant itinerary of all the European River cruises … And the River Antionette is the most elegant of the European River Ships. The cruise starts (or ends) in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is definitely worth spending an extra day or two. (see another post here)
The first stop is at Cologne, (or Koln in German) … home of the largest and tallest cathedral in northern Europe … and the largest bell that really rings.
Construction on the cathedral began in 1248 and continued till the late 1800’s (with a 300 year break for wars etc) The work actually continues today with over 100 workers continually working on maintenance and restoration.
Koblenz … is a nice little German town on the Rhine, west of the famous Rhine Gorge, where the wine grapes grow on the hills riverside. It was the first place we’ve seen real gallery level wood turning art … Dave noticed.
For an old city which celebrated ins 2000th birthday back in 1992, Koblenz is in great form. First, it sits on prime real estate, at the confluence of two of Germany’s major rivers, the Rhine and the Moselle. Instead of industrial builidings, there is a park. Deutsches Eck, right where the two rivers meet. Deutsches Eck, which translates as “corner of Germany” is dedicated to unity. In 1897, in a spirit of nationalism, a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I, the first emperor of the newly united Germany, was erected.
The Romans named their settlement Castrum ad Confluetes (The Camp at the Confluence) which was later corrupted to Koblenz. During the Middle Ages the town grew in power, controlling trade on both rivers. The massive fortress, Festung Ehrenbreitstein, built in the 12th centurey is Europe’s largest fortress.
In 1801 Napoleon’s forces arrived partially destroyed the fortress, then occupied the city for almost 20 years. When they left, the 16th century fortress cannon went back to France with them. The Germans took it back in 1940, only to lose it again to the French in 1945. A gesture of peace, French President Mitterand returned the 15 ton cannon in 1984.
Today, Koblenz serves as the cultural, administrative, and business center of the Middle Rhine.
Its strategic location assures its place as a vital link in the international river trade routes of Europe. There are steamers, barges, tugs and every other kind of river boat constantly moving up and down river. Although air raids during World War II destroyed 85% of the city, extensive renovations have successfully preserved the ambience of Old
Here are some more photos from our trip.