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April 25, 2022
Koblenz, Germany: Marksburg Castle

Today’s port, Koblenz, is a traditional German country town at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. (“Koblenz” is from the Latin word cōnfluentēs, which means “confluence.”) Here, Russell and Cameron went on the Viking included excursion. Gail walked into town to meet some relatives of our friend Jayne.

Founded more than 2,000 years ago, Koblenz is known today for its Schängel. The term originally referred to the mischievous boys born to French soldiers and German women during the French occupation of 1794-1814. Nowadays, the term more fondly refers to the fun-loving image of Koblenzers in general.

Koblenz features life-sized statues of people who look like they are from the 1950s. We have no idea why.

A particular Schängel, the “spitting boy,” is featured on manhole covers

Today’s included excursion was unique for two reasons. First, it was not actually in the town of Koblenz. Instead, the “Marksburg Castle” tour took us on a motorcoach to the nearby town of Braubach, where the castle resides. Why didn’t the longship simply sail us to Braubach? Viking did this for ingenious logistical reasons. By stopping at Koblenz, we arrived early enough in the morning to have an excursion. While we explored Marksburg Castle, the longship sailed slowly ahead to Braubach. By the time we finished our excursion, the longship was right there waiting for us to reboard.

The second unique aspect is that this is the only included excursion on our itinerary that is rated “demanding.” The reason is clear. Marksburg Castle is at the top of a 300 foot-high mountain. While our motorcoach took us partway up the mountain, we still had to walk up several hundred feet (and several switchbacks) to get to the castle entrance. Once on the grounds, the cobblestone paths were extremely uneven, especially for anyone with a mobility problem.

The road was barely wide enough for our motorcoach to pass through

We were repeatedly warned to stop walking before taking a photo

Marksburg is the only castle in the Rhine Valley that was never destroyed (and never had to be rebuilt). It is an impressive defensive stronghold. If you tried invading, you would have to get through four heavy gate doors. In the meantime, the defenders would be bombarding you with large rocks, hot pitch and arrows. It was difficult enough for us to navigate the steep paths and stairwells as tourists.

The approach to the castle

Our guide Dorothee unlocks one of the doors with a gigantic key

The entrance to Door No. 2

The Keep is one of the most secure places. Once you are safely inside, the ladder is removed.

The privvy (from the outside)

The privvy (from the inside)

The kitchen

The dining room

The torture chamber. Usually, a victim only had to be shown drawings of torture before they freely confessed.

Marksburg Castle features a rare and impressive display of historical military outfits, from Roman soldiers to French musketeers

Our 8:40 am tour ended at noon. We reboarded Viking Vili just in time for lunch. This afternoon we will view more castles – at least from a distance – as we sail through the Middle Rhine.

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