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Exploring Old Koblenz

Much of Koblenz was destroyed during World War II, and most buildings were rebuilt to support service industries and shopping both for its 109,000 residents and for the Rhine region. Thus, the city is alive and active, with enough pockets of discovery to satisfy history buffs. Pick up a map at the tourist office on the plaza immediately outside the train station (open 10am-8pm daily from May 1 through September 30). The main shopping street, the Löhrstrasse, is just a few blocks away and will lead you to the Old City. From the Löhrstrasse you can also catch a view of the stunning 19th-century, Neoclassical Palace of the Prince Electors (closed to the public).

The city's churches give snapshots in time: the Romanesque St. Castor's Church consecrated in 836, St. Florin's Church with its Romanesque triple nave and Gothic chancel, and the Church of our Lady with its mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque features.

A relaxing walk is along the city's 8-kilometer (5-mile) promenade. Traveling clockwise from the Mosel to the Rhine, you'll pass the Old Castle and a collection of medieval buildings around the Old Mosel Bridge. In a few moments, you'll reach the Deutsches Eck - or German Corner - the park where the Rhine and Mosel meet. Standing at the tip of the park, you can watch the tea-colored waters of the Mosel swirl into the coffee-colored Rhine. A monument of Kaiser Wilhelm I dominates the park. Originally erected in 1897, it was destroyed at the end of World War II. In 1953, a flag and flagpole were mounted on the base as a memorial to German unity. It was rebuilt in 1993 based on original plans. Today, flags fly from every state of the reunited Germany.

Across the Rhine, the Ehrenbreitstein continues its watch over the city and rivers, an imposing fortress built in stages from the 11th through the 17th and 18th centuries. The Prussians rebuilt it to its current neo-classical form in the 19th century.

The fortress is reached easily by ferry from the Rhine boat docks. From the ferry landing, a 30-minute hike or scenic chairlift ride will get you to the top. The view, especially over coffee and pastries at the terrace restaurants, is stunning: down both the Rhine and Mosel and across to Koblenz. (Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, D-56077 Koblenz, tel +49 0261 9742445, fax 9742450; adults €2.50, children €1)