Visit the charming city of Koblenz

by Kelly Omohundro
Contributing writer

This year, the city of Koblenz offers a unique spectacle ― the National Garden Show (Bundesgartenschau, or BUGA) ― until Oct. 16. This temporary exhibition offers a wonderful reason to visit this charming German town, which is the third largest municipality in Rheinland-Pfalz and approximately 150 kilometers from Kaiserslautern. Koblenz also boasts a rich cultural and historical tradition, with elements that appeal to all ages.

Visitors who travel by rail to Koblenz will be treated to a trio of scenic features on approach ― the meandering Rhine River, terraced vineyards carved into steep hillsides and centuries-old fortresses perched on towering cliffs.

Upon arriving at Koblenz’s train station, follow the well-marked route through the city’s serene streets to the “Kurfürstliche Schloss,” or electoral palace, where the garden show begins. English language information brochures and maps are available at the BUGA ticket window.

Rainbow-colored gardens arranged in a variety of styles envelop this 18th-century structure on the banks of the Rhine River. Neatly planted French gardens contrast with more naturalistic English gardens, both featuring hundreds of species of flowers that stimulate the senses.

After visiting the palace’s gardens, stroll along the banks of the Rhine to the “Deutsches Eck,” or German corner, which marks the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. This site is also home to a statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I, who ruled as the first emperor of united Germany from 1871 until 1888. The original monument was erected in 1897 but was destroyed during World War II. In 1993, a new imposing statue was installed to commemorate this imperial leader.

The garden show continues on this spit of land, with intriguing modern garden sculptures, activities for children and a variety of food vendors.

One of the garden show’s highlights is a new cable car system, which connects the Deutsches Eck to Europe’s largest fortress, the Festung Ehrenbreitstein, on the opposite side of the Rhine River. Prussia built this fortress between 1817 and 1832 as a defensive fortification against French forces, which had previously invaded this strategic crossroads. However, the stronghold dates to the 11th century, when Trier archbishops began expanding a small castle on the current grounds.

The grounds of the fortress comprise the third ― and largest ― portion of the garden show. Several acres of green space boast several environmentally focused exhibits, children’s activities and greenhouses. The highlight, of course, is the fortress. This impressive structure is home to a variety of historical exhibits as well as food stalls featuring international cuisines and a temporary (but sizable) concert venue.

After pausing for some musical entertainment, return to Koblenz via the cable car and explore the quaint features of the city center, approximately 10 minutes by foot from the garden show. The charming pedestrian zone features historical buildings, outdoor cafes and a variety of shopping options. 

Children and adults alike will be amused by Koblenz’s resident mischief-maker and unofficial mascot, Das Schängelchen, which is a small statue of a boy behind the Rathaus.

This seemingly innocuous bronze rascal posing in a fountain surprises onlookers when it spews water from its mouth every few minutes. Unsuspecting visitors taking photographs will find themselves soaked from head to toe.

The whole family will enjoy a memorable excursion to the Koblenz garden show, an opportunity that will soon come to a close as we bid farewell to summer.