The watchman of the Rhine

The ancient walls of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress stand majestic, watchful and massive as your view is drawn up from the promenade along the Rhine in Koblenz. The fortress was expanded by the Prussians between 1817 and 1828 into the form it takes today. Massive ramparts, deep trenches, tunnels and metre-thick walls made it impenetrable to attackers. The fortress has been besieged a number of times and also occupied following negotiations, but it has never been taken by storm.

The fortress stands roughly in the middle of the line of fortifications created by the Prussians, which extended from Wesel via Cologne, Luxembourg, Koblenz and Mainz to Rastatt. After the Congress of Vienna, all the Rhine property of the Trier Electoral State fell to the kingdom of Prussia. Koblenz became the capital of the Rhine province and King Frederick William III had fortresses built at Ehrenbreitstein and on the surrounding hills to protect the Rhine and the Moselle. As well as the fortress at Ehrenbreitstein, he built the Kaiser Alexander fortress with Fort Konstantin in front of it, Fort Asterstein and the Kaiser Franz fortress in Lützel.

But the promontory which is now virtually covered by the Ehrenbreitstein fortress was settled even in ancient times: Celts, Teutons and Romans have all lived here. 5,000 years as a settlement, 3,000 years as a fortress, 800 years as an Electorate of Trier powerhouse on the Rhine and finally a Prussian fortress add up to a lot of history and stories that take a long time to tell.

Visiting the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

A family discovering the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

A tour of the fortress and its numerous exhibitions on photography, food, archaeology and regional history, all of which are suitable for families, quickly fills up a day. To keep things exciting, there is an active trail designed especially for young visitors and families allowing them to trace the history of the fortress helped by friendly ghosts Willi Bartzilli and Fritzi Dreispitzi, who still haunt the fortress, leaving secret messages that can be found and puzzled out by young boys and girls with the help of the ghost passport.

A fortress gunner in the State Museum of Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

Guided tour with a fortress gunner in the State Museum of Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

There are several guided tours that focus on the history of the fortress, some of which are included in the admission price. One of them is the guided tour with the fortress gunner, the start of which is heralded by a whistle every Sunday at 3 p.m. This gives everyone time to put their hands over their ears as it is followed by a shot from the firecracker cannon, marking the start of the one-hour weapons tour by the master gunner in the ‘colourful skirt’.

The weapons need constant repairs and maintenance. This is the job of the gunsmith, who has his own workshop on the site and is happy to have people looking over his shoulder as he works. At the weekend, there is the opportunity to pick up and try out the things that are normally behind glass in the archaeology exhibition, including a hand axe, a Celtic ringmail, riveted Roman sandals and a knight’s helmet.

View of the Rhine from the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Romantic Rhine

View of the Rhine from the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Romantic Rhine

The underground light and sound installation, the journey through 3,000 years of history and climbing the flag tower are all also included in the price. The tower is the tallest accessible building in Koblenz and commands a wonderful view over the whole complex, Koblenz, the Deutsches Eck and up to the hills of the Eifel and Hunsrück. The views from the cable car from Konrad-Adenauer-Ufer in Koblenz to Ehrenbreitstein are also pretty spectacular.

The cable car in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

The cable car in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

The "Deutsches Eck" in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

The "Deutsches Eck" in Koblenz where the rivers Rhine and Moselle meet, Romantic Rhine

More leisure tips for culture lovers at the Romantic Rhine:

More information about holidays in the Romantic Rhine region

Find out everything you need to know on events, attractions and other destinations in the romantic Middle Rhine Valley at Romantischer Rhein Tourismus GmbH.

Romantic Cities: Trip to Koblenz

The only city on both the Rhine and the Moselle: From Deutsches Eck, it is just a short walk to the narrow streets of the old town in Koblenz, past the Romanesque Basilica of St Castor.

Schwarzes Icon, das einen Kompass zeigt

Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site

The whole region here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a charming combination of stunning nature and important cultural heritage.

Deutsches Eck mit Kaiserdenkmal

Koblenz German Corner is a promontory which juts out into the water, replacing the harbour which was once situated at the point where the Moselle joins the…

Landesmuseum Koblenz

Koblenz The State Museum has permanent collections documenting important aspects of the region’s technological developments as well as its economic and social…

Schloss Stolzenfels

Koblenz Only a few kilometers from the city center of Koblenz rises in the district of the same name, high above the left bank of the Rhine, the Stolzenfels…