Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

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Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz, on the left the cable car to the fortress plateau, on the lower right the pagerie and the dicastery building of the former Philippsburg Palace
Aerial photo of the fortress in 2007
The previous Baroque building, around 1700, including Philippsburg Palace

The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress has existed since the 16th century, originally an Electorate of Trier , later a Prussian fortification opposite the mouth of the Moselle in Koblenz .

Its baroque predecessor, which dates back to a castle built around the year 1000 , was temporarily the residence of the Electors of Trier and was blown up in 1801 by French revolutionary troops. In its present form, the citadel (actually called Feste Ehrenbreitstein, planned name was Feste Friedrich Wilhelm) was rebuilt between 1817 and 1828 under the direction of the Prussian engineer officer Carl Schnitzler . It was part of the Prussian fortress Koblenz, built at the beginning of the 19th century, and belonged to the Oberehrenbreitstein system. Used for military purposes by the Prussian army until 1918, the Ehrenbreitstein fortress served as part of the Koblenz fortress system to secure the Middle Rhine Valley and the entire transport infrastructure, i.e. H. Railway paths and river crossings near Koblenz.

Today it is owned by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate and houses the State Museum Koblenz , the Koblenz Youth Hostel , the memorial of the German Army and various administrative offices. For the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show , parts of the fortress grounds and the forecourt were included in the event area. A spacious landscape park with a viewing platform was created on the latter.


Site plan of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz
View from Ehrenbreitstein Fortress to Koblenz and the Deutsches Eck
Inclined elevator to the fortress, which has been around since BUGA 2011

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is located on a 180 m high mountain spur of the same name , whose rugged rocky slopes in Koblenz's Ehrenbreitstein district run into the Rhine Valley. As a result, only the ridge of the hill towards the plateau in the northeast had to be particularly strongly defended. In the 19th century, the Prussian fortress Ehrenbreitstein was considered impregnable, on the one hand because of its location on the mountain of the same name and on the other hand because the enemy could always be attacked from all sides through the other fortresses and forts in the fortress group. The Ehrenbreitstein is bordered on three sides - in the south, in the east and in the west towards the Rhine - by high steep slopes. The fortress can be accessed from the banks of the Rhine, past the Helfenstein works and from the mountain plateau in the north. The mountain spur , ideally suited for defense purposes , has been used for military installations since the earliest times.


Cannon Griffin from 1524
Fortress 1573, Braun & Hogenberg
Fortress 1636, Merian
Aerial photo of the fortress in 2003


The settlement of the Ehrenbreitstein is already around 4000 BC. Proven. During excavations in the spring of 2005, the remains of a pile ditch from the 10th century BC were found under the Great Traverse (more precisely: under the eastern domed hall). Found. It was part of a Bronze Age defense system that was located on the southern part of the mountain spur. At a point only about 30 meters wide, the palisade reinforced with earth from behind secured the southern part of the mountain spur against the only access in the north. Finds of arrow slingshots, vessels and coins, which reveal a Roman use of the rock, date from Roman times. On the southern rock spur there was a late Roman burgus from around 250 to 450 to protect the mouth of the Moselle, the Roman roads and the nearby Limes . Ceramic finds from Carolingian times suggest a medieval fortification in the 8th or 9th century.

Ehrenbreitstein Castle

Around the year 1000 of the Erembert or honor Brecht from here was probably lahngauisch - konradinischem Counts built castle Ehrenbreitstein . After its first documentary mention, it passed into the possession of the Archbishops of Trier after purchase by Archbishop Poppo von Babenberg around 1020 . The castle was the bridgehead for the property of the Electorate Trier on the right bank of the Rhine and was considered to be the safest castle. Important shrines of the country were kept here in uncertain times, e.g. B. the head of St. Matthias (diocese patron) from 1380 to 1422 and the holy skirt with a few short interruptions from 1657 to 1794.

The castle was expanded by Archbishop Hillin von Fallemanien around 1160 . A neck ditch built at this time , the so-called Hellengraben, was found under the Great Traverse. He renewed the archbishop's houses, deepened the neck ditch, built the pentagonal keep behind it and had a cistern built. Further extensions and alterations followed, in particular from the 16th century the castle was converted into a fortress . Occasionally the name Hermannstein Fortress appears in old graphics. It is obviously based on mistakes made by the graphic artist.

To the south, the Helfenstein Castle was built on a mountain spur around 1160. The von Helfenstein family lived there until the 14th century and then fell into disrepair. With the construction of the Prussian fortress, the castle ruins were built over by Fort Helfenstein.

Expansion to the Electorate of Trier fortress

Archbishop Richard von Greiffenklau zu Vollrads began to develop the castle into a fortress in the early 16th century because of the advancing military technology. The complex was provided with a moat and bastions on the north side . Greiffenklau also had the first cannons cast for the new fortress. The largest of these cannons is the Greif siege cannon, cast in 1524 by Master Simon from Frankfurt am Main , weighing nine tons and 4.66 meters long . After the French conquered Ehrenbreitstein in 1799, the cannon was brought to France . In 1940, after the conquest of France, she came back briefly, but was brought back to Paris in 1946. In 1984 it came back to the fortress as a permanent loan during the tenure of French President François Mitterrand , who signed a corresponding contract with Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl on the Ehrenbreitstein .

Under the direction of the fortress builder Johann (II.) Von Pasqualini , a grandson of Alessandro Pasqualini , a bastion was built in front of the fortress around 1600. Below and under the protection of this, Elector and Archbishop Philipp Christoph von Sötern had the Philippsburg Palace built and built from 1626 to 1629 moved his residence here from the now unsafe Trier in 1629. During the Thirty Years' War the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress changed hands twice after the Archbishop first granted France the right of occupation in 1631 and French troops occupied the fortress on June 5, 1632. Three weeks later it capitulated the city of Koblenz and was also occupied. In October 1635 the French entered the war following an alliance with Duke Bernhard von Sachsen-Weimar . After the archbishop had been captured by imperial troops in 1635 and Trier was conquered, they liberated Trier in May 1636 also Koblenz.In 1637 the French conquered the Fes and now controlled the Rhine again, the important trade and supply route. Johann von Werth , who had already won over 30 victories against the French and was therefore known as the French Terror, then moved from Cologne against the fortress. After a siege in which he succeeded in starving the French troops, the fortress surrendered on June 27, 1637.

The Ehrenbreitstein fell back to Kurtrier in 1650. The Archbishops Karl Kaspar von der Leyen and Johann Hugo von Orsbeck had the fortress expanded in the 17th century. The latter had the Hellengraben filled with rubble after the bombardment of the city of Koblenz in 1688 in the Palatinate War of Succession and built a representative multi-storey residential building over it. Archbishop Franz Georg von Schönborn began in 1729 with the extensive expansion of the complex into a baroque fortress. He had the new Schönborn works presented to the two walls in the north. Balthasar Neumann planned this wall with a ditch, covered path and counter mine system around 1730. Additional batteries were installed on the Rhine side and the Helfenstein .

On October 23, 1794, French revolutionary troops conquered the city of Koblenz in the First Coalition War and besieged the fortress four times from 1795. On January 27, 1799 it was handed over after a blockade of almost a year because the crew had hardly any food left. Due to the Peace of Lunéville in 1801, the French were forced to give up the right bank of the Rhine, including the Ehrenbreitstein. In order not to leave them to the opponents, they blew up the baroque fortress as planned. The Philippsburg Palace underneath was so damaged by the demolition that it had to be demolished. In 1803, the ruins of the fortress were transferred to the Principality of Nassau-Weilburg (later the Duchy of Nassau ) for a short time as a result of the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss .

New building as a Prussian fortress

The Prussian fortress Ehrenbreitstein, newly built at the beginning of the 19th century, painting by Johann Adolf Lasinsky 1828
The Ehrenbreitstein fortress around 1890, in front of that the
ship bridge on the Rhine

Through the Congress of Vienna in 1814/1815, the territory of the Trier electoral state was transferred to the Kingdom of Prussia as part of the Rhine Province . On March 11, 1815, King Friedrich Wilhelm III. the "Order to re-fortify the city of Coblenz and the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress". In the following years the Koblenz Fortress , one of the most extensive fortress systems in Europe, was built according to the most modern knowledge of the time, the " New Prussian fortification manner ".

Including the remains of the destroyed Electorate fortress on the Ehrenbreitstein, the Prussian military and leading engineer officers erected General of the Infantry Gustav von Rauch , General Inspector of the Prussian fortresses, Major General Ernst Ludwig von Aster , Inspector of the Rhenish fortresses, Major General Claudius Franz Le Bauld de Nans and Major General Gotthilf Benjamin Keibel created a spacious citadel that still dominates the cityscape today.

One of the largest military bulwarks on the Rhine was built in Koblenz, of which only the Ehrenbreitstein is almost completely preserved today. The construction of the new Ehrenbreitstein fortress lasted from 1817 to 1828. However, it was only part of the large-scale Prussian fortress of Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein, which was not completed until 1834. The largest fortress built at the time, the fortress of Emperor Alexander , stood on the ridge above the former monastery , the Carthusian monastery . After the completion of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the Nöllenkopf plant and the Pleitenberg plant were built upstream for reinforcement. The following engineer officers were involved in the construction of the fortress under the direction of Carl Schnitzler in the construction phase until around 1832:

  • Julius Theodor Berggold (born May 7, 1798 in Dresden ; † July 12, 1842 in Münster ), joined the Prussian engineer corps in 1816 as a Saxon tranche sergeant, and in Koblenz in 1828 ( Nöllenkopf and Pleitenberg plants , Ober-Ehrenbreitstein), most recently as a captain and garrison building director in Münster.
  • August Donant
  • Carl (Johann Georg David) Moser (born August 10, 1786 in Berlin; † January 26, 1842 in Neisse ), 1813 second lieutenant in the Prussian engineer corps, 1816–1820 in Koblenz, most recently major and field engineer in Neisse.
  • Johann Ludwig Piepersberg (born May 6, 1796 in Emden ; † April 21, 1858 in Berlin), joined the Prussian engineer corps in 1820, in Koblenz from 1831–1832, most recently as captain and planning chamber inspector in Berlin.
  • Baron von Rosenberg († January 7, 1849 in Ziegenhals in the Neisse district ), 1813 second lieutenant in the Prussian engineering corps, 1817–1822 in Koblenz (Ober- and Nieder-Ehrenbreitstein), most recently captain and field engineer in Neisse, 1839 as major adopted.
  • Friedrich Sterzel
  • Wilhelm Theodor Ludwig von Winterfeld

In addition to the fortresses in Gibraltar and Paris as well as the Cologne fortress, the Koblenz fortress with a circumference of 14 km was one of the most important fortifications in Europe. The three main fortifications of the Koblenz Fortress were to be given the names of the three monarchs of the countries involved in the Wars of Liberation , Prussia , Austria and Russia , who had come together to form the Holy Alliance . Apparently there were brief considerations about naming the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress after the Prussian King Feste Friedrich Wilhelm , but the historical name Ehrenbreitstein was finally chosen .

The Ehrenbreitstein was optimized for defense against all weapons and types of attack known at the time. Among other things, the firing ranges of the firearms of the time determined the dimensions of the system. In the event of war, 1500 soldiers with 80 guns were to defend the Ehrenbreitstein. Due to foreign policy events and revolutions, the fortress was armored eight times . H. Made ready for defense, but it was never attacked, apart from eight air raids on Koblenz during World War I from October 1917.

In contrast to the former Electorate of Trier fortress, the facility was not manned by mercenaries , but exclusively by professional soldiers and conscripts . After the army reform of 1808, the stay was even relatively comfortable. For example, each soldier had his own bed, and the newly built casemates (rooms protected against cannon fire and bombs), which also served as accommodation, were equipped with stove heating and windows.

The entire Koblenz Fortress was in active service until 1890, but from 1886 it was run as a fortress of minor importance . As of 1890, the fortress on the left bank of the Rhine began to be closed due to the advancing military technology. The fortifications on the right bank of the Rhine with the Ehrenbreitstein, with the exception of the Bienhornschanze , remained operational until the end of the First World War . The last crew of the Ehrenbreitstein formed the III. Battalion of the Infantry Regiment "von Goeben" (2nd Rheinisches) No. 28 and the II. Battalion of the Schleswig-Holstein Foot Artillery Regiment No. 9, in the First World War especially the replacement formations of the latter regiment.

View from Ehrenbreitstein to the Rhine and the mouth of the Moselle at the Deutsches Eck (1919), the flag of the
USA flies over the fortress

Time of world wars

After 1919, the Ehrenbreitstein was to be razed in accordance with the provisions of the Versailles Treaty . However, the Inter-Allied Military Control Commission (IMKK) in Berlin refrained from doing so on February 25, 1922, after the US General Henry Tureman Allen on the Allied side and Lieutenant Colonel a. D. Eduard Hüger, head of the Koblenz Demolition Office until 1924, had campaigned vehemently for its preservation with reference to the cultural value of the fortress. First American troops occupied the Ehrenbreitstein in 1918. They were followed by French soldiers from 1923 to 1929. On February 25, 1922, the IMKK officially ordered the preservation of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.

In the course of the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936, German soldiers again moved to the Ehrenbreitstein. From autumn 1936 to June 1939 an anti-tank unit, the 14th Company of Infantry Regiment 80, used the Landbastion and the High Eastern Front as barracks. During the Second World War , art and archive holdings from Koblenz, Cologne and Wuppertal were stored in the casemates . However, accidental bomb hits showed that the casemates did not offer sufficient protection against bombs. As part of the air defense of Koblenz, three anti-aircraft guns had stood on the fortress since 1941 at the latest (roofs of the Rhine bastion, Contregarde Links and the Lower Eastern Front). In the rock under the fortress, more precisely under the Helfenstein, an air raid shelter was built in 1943 , the tunnels of which were supposed to protect up to 10,000 people from Ehrenbreitstein and the surrounding districts as well as travelers from the Ehrenbreitstein train station against air raids. Although the city of Koblenz was 87% destroyed by air raids , the fortress hardly suffered any damage (only in the area of ​​the Long Line and the flag tower). On December 19, 1944, the first railway wagons with archival documents left the fortress. A total of twelve wagons were gradually loaded with valuable holdings from the state archives in Koblenz and Düsseldorf and sent to Salzdetfurth . On March 27, 1945, US soldiers occupied the fortress. In mid-1945, when the French occupation zone was created, French soldiers took over from it.

After the Second World War

The casemate building "Long Line", which was restored and made accessible for the Federal Garden Show 2011
The Ehrenbreitstein inclined elevator on the east side

The International Refugee Organization (IRO) had maintained a camp for displaced persons at the fortress since around 1946 . A special colony was formed by Hungarian refugees (at times up to 350 people) who worked for the French as a construction team as part of the reconstruction. They converted part of the Contregarde war powder magazine to a Catholic chapel on the right, the "Hungary Chapel". The camp was disbanded on October 15, 1950. From the summer of 1949, more and more families from Koblenz moved into the fortress, who only now returned from the evacuation and were homeless. Casemates of the tower Unnamed, the long line, the eastern end of the trench of the main ditch, the ravelin, the Contregarde left, the curtain wall, the high eastern front, the guard on Felsenweg and the Helfenstein as well as the log houses on the covered path were used as apartments.

After the Second World War, the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress became the property of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate as the legal successor to Prussia . In the mid-1960s, two Contregarde casemates on the right were converted to store smaller amounts of nuclear waste , research waste from the University of Mainz . Due to public protests, however, they refrained from putting these rooms into operation.

Today the Ehrenbreitstein serves various institutions. The Landesmuseum Koblenz has been using the High Eastern Front and the Contregarde on the right as an exhibition area since the 1950s, while a youth hostel is housed in the Lower Eastern Front and the Southern Traverse . The country bastion housed the State Office for Monument Preservation Rhineland-Palatinate (Department of Archaeological Monument Preservation) until 2009 ; the Contregarde on the left is the office wing of the Directorate Castles, Palaces, Antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate of the Directorate General for Cultural Heritage.

The massive masonry keeps the room climate in the fortress largely constant, which is why the Federal Film Archive stored extensive magazine stocks there until 1998 . These included particularly flammable celluloid films , which caused a fire in 1988 in which parts of the archive holdings were destroyed.

Federal Garden Show 2011

Aerial view of the Buga core area of ​​Ehrenbreitstein Fortress 2011
Cannon shots during Prussian Day at Ehrenbreitstein Fortress on August 28, 2011, fortress gunner Jörg Höfer

The city of Koblenz was awarded the contract to host the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show. The fortress grounds, where a landscape park was created, and the fortress itself was used for this. At the northern end of the landscape park, a wooden viewing platform has since offered visitors a clear view of the Rhine Valley.

The fortress square (castle courtyard) and the facades of the fortress structures and their roofs were completely renovated by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate in 2009-2011. The long line casemate building, which was bombed in World War II, was restored for the first time and made accessible to visitors. In place of the chairlift , which was located on the east side and connected the Ehrenbreitstein Valley with the fortress, an inclined elevator was put into operation in 2011 . In the basement under the Great Traverse, where a 3000 year old fortification of the place could be proven, the multimedia exhibition A mountain in transition - 3000 years fortified place was set up. The continuous fortification of a place over such a long period of time could not be proven anywhere else in Germany.

The Koblenz cable car , the largest aerial cable car in Germany, has been transporting visitors from the Rhine facilities across the Rhine to the plateau in front of the fortress since July 2, 2010 . With a conveying capacity of up to 7,600 people per hour, it is unsurpassed worldwide. In the year after the Federal Garden Show, around 500,000 people visited the fortress. This significant increase in visitor flows is due to the improved accessibility by means of the cable car and the many events on the fortress grounds. UNESCO decided on June 19, 2013 at the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh to allow the cable car to operate until 2026. The technically longest possible service life ends this year. For the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, this means a further expansion of cultural activities. Thanks to the cable car, around 550,000 people visited the fortress in 2013, a further increase compared to the previous year and more than twice as many as was expected before the Federal Garden Show.

The fortifications

Main entrance through the field gate, to the left of it the tower Unnamed
View over the main ditch to the Ravelin from the northwest
Upper castle courtyard, on the right the guard portico on the High Eastern Front
The great traverse
Upper terrace battery
Interior of the fortress church

To defend the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the strongest fortifications were built to the north and east. The main features here are two to five meters deep and 20 to 25 m wide main trenches as well as casemated ramparts with up to three meters thick outer walls with up to three superimposed rows of cannon holes. The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress should not only be functional and defensive, but also represent the Prussian state. Even today it shows itself to the visitor with two faces. Outwardly, against the attacker, it acts as a deterrent with thick, unplastered walls and threatening-looking artillery slots. On the inside, the Upper Palace Courtyard in particular gives the impression of a stately palace. The classicist facades were - as partially reconstructed today - plastered and painted yellow. The sparingly used architecture, reflecting the inner structure, was highlighted with red sandstone blocks. Quarry stone made of slate and greywacke was used as building material .

If you enter the fortress from the northeast through the field gate , the tower Unnamed is on the left . According to the anecdote, it has this strange name because on June 20, 1821 the Prussian prince and the son of the Russian tsar were involved in the construction. When it came to naming, each wanted to give priority to the other, which led to the compromise. However, at the time of the baroque fortress Ehrenbreitstein there was already a gun emplacement of the same name at the same location. Today's earth-covered tower is four stories high and dominates the slope as well as the valley and the opposite height of Ehrenbreitstein. The tower is almost semicircular to the northeast and has nine gun casemates on three of the floors (except for the basement). In the basement there was originally a pumping station for the water supply.

It is followed by the Lange Linie , a two-story, elongated casemate building that runs parallel to the path and has been connected to the Unnamed tower by a bridge since 2011. As a visitor, you then walk exactly towards the moat gate , which, with a postern under the covered path, enables a passage into the main moat . You are now in the main ditch, in front of the approximately 12 m high ravelin or central liner , which is flanked by Contregarde Right and Contregarde Left , which together form the main wall. The 12–13 m high ravelin has two faces of different lengths and rises high above the main moat with artillery slots.

Through an approximately 50 m long postern, a tunnel on the lower floor of the Ravelin, one goes into the retired ditch , which is closed in the middle by the 18 m high curtain wall as well as the Rhine bastion and the country bastion . While the land bastion is a complete bastion with faces and flanks of roughly the same length, the Rhine bastion is only a half bastion with one face. Both have two floors and are casemated. After passing this curtain wall , a three-storey crenellated arched wall, through another gate, above which a cast-iron Prussian eagle hangs, one finally stands in the upper courtyard . The great view from there of the Rhine and Moselle was already famous in the 19th century and a popular destination for tourists, who were led there by NCOs via the Felsenweg.

On the other side of the valley and towards the Rhine, the Fuchs bastion , the high eastern front , the large traverse , the lower eastern front , the southern traverse , the southern section , the Helfenstein , the weather tower and other fortifications secured the area. The large traverse consists of two dome rooms one behind the other. A rail system led here on the western mountain slope, on which building material was transported from the Rhine to the mountain. The horse-powered Göpelwerk for this elevator was set up in the two domed halls. The high eastern front, which today houses the state museum, is a single-storey casemated building with a mighty three-axis guard portico as an arcade porch, which points in the middle to the upper castle courtyard and was previously the entrance to the fortress commandant's offices. To the right of it is the entrance to the fortress church, a three-aisled gallery basilica . The casemate building on the Lower Eastern Front with the Lower Castle courtyard in front of it is now used as a youth hostel.

If you leave the upper castle courtyard through the rock gate , you can walk along the rock path over Fort Helfenstein in the south and down through several gates to the village of Ehrenbreitstein . The Felsenweg ends in the area of ​​the former Nieder-Ehrenbreitstein, which secured the banks of the Rhine until 1903. Philippsburg Palace , which was destroyed in 1801 and whose preserved pagerie can still be seen from Felsenweg, used to stand here . The pagerie, built as a fortress gate construction 1690–1692, is the only surviving baroque fortress from the Electorate of Trier times. The upper and lower terrace batteries secure the western slope above it, beginning at the Rhine bastion . The Johannisturm stands in the middle of the slope along a wall . Below the Great Traverse is a war powder magazine, which was used until 1864 and is often called the ossuary , although it is not certain to what extent it was planned as a mortuary after 1864.

The Ehrenbreitstein as a rescue site

About its importance as a fortification addition was the Kurtrierische Ehrenbreitstein as sicherster place of the Archdiocese and Electorate of Trier also temporarily hiding place of the Holy Robe , the most important relic in the Cathedral of Trier . Ehrenbreitstein Castle had already recovered a special relic, the head of the apostle Matthias , which came from the Matthias Chapel in Kobern to the Ehrenbreitstein between 1362 and 1381 and was transferred to the Trier Cathedral Treasury in 1418 at the earliest . The first salvage of the Holy Rock on the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress took place in the Thirty Years War and ended in 1628. It was again in a vault near the Great Armory in the years 1632–1652, 1657, 1667–1759, 1765 to approx. 1790 and 1792– 1794. In the years 1667–1759 the relic was shown to some of the archbishop's special guests. On May 4, 1765, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., there was a public display of Christ's tunic on the Ehrenbreitstein.

During the Second World War , the archives of the Koblenz State Archives were relocated to the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in 1941 to protect against the air raids on Koblenz . After a bomb hit, these were briefly relocated to the Salzdetfurth potash mine near Hildesheim in December 1944 before they returned to the Ehrenbreitstein in 1946. With the construction of a new archive building in 1956, they came back into the custody of the State Archives, today's main state archive in Koblenz.

Various other archives brought holdings to the Ehrenbreitstein, the state archives Aurich , Düsseldorf , Hamburg , Kiel, Luxembourg, Osnabrück and Wiesbaden , the city archives Cologne , Mainz, Neuwied, Moers, Recklinghausen and Nieder- and Oberlahnstein, as well as the Rhenish provincial church archive in Bonn and the Princely Wiedische Archiv Neuwied. In particular, Cologne museums also brought some of their holdings to the Ehrenbreitstein, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum , the Schnütgen Museum , the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of East Asian Art . The Wuppertal-Elberfeld Municipal Museum (today: Von-der-Heydt-Museum ) brought holdings to the fortress. Libraries also moved their holdings to the Ehrenbreitstein, such as the Düsseldorf, Essen and Wuppertal-Elberfeld city ​​libraries . The duplicates and collateral documents of the registry offices and parish registers, which were kept by the state clerk's office in Düsseldorf, were also found on the Ehrenbreitstein.

The Ehrenbreitstein as a place of imprisonment in Prussian times

Detention cell in Ehrenbreitstein, part of the permanent exhibition

The main use of the Prussian fortress Ehrenbreitstein was as a defensive structure and barracks. In addition, however, some areas were used for the execution of sentences . From the 1830s to 1909, officers and civilians served there fortress arrest or imprisonment , a punishment that was not considered dishonorable. The cells were initially in the upper terrace battery, perhaps also temporarily on the Helfenstein, and from 1878 as a "fortress room prisoner institution" in the country bastion. Mainly political prisoners and duelists sat here. Anyone who had to serve imprisonment for other crimes was given a pardon. The fortress prisoners on the Ehrenbreitstein include the doctor and Java researcher Franz Junghuhn (1832/33), the diplomat Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter (1894) and the writer Hanns Heinz Ewers (1897).

In addition, there were fortress convicts on the Ehrenbreitstein from the 1830s to 1878 who were sentenced to dishonorable fortress construction work. The cells for these convicts were on the Helfenstein and finally in the country bastion. From 1878 to 1909 there was a "workers' department" in the Long Line, the inmates of which were also called in for construction work. In November 1914, a detention center was set up in the Long Line to compensate for the overcrowding in the military detention center in Koblenz. It was only used for a limited time and was reactivated again in 1917. Soldiers who were stationed in Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein served arrest sentences here, the most common sentences in the force. Four of the detention cells have been open to visitors since April 15, 2011 as part of the “Path to the Fortress History”. In addition, two cells for strict detention were built into the right casemate of the grave gate as early as 1863. These were under the supervision of the moat gate guard, which was constantly manned as a garrison guard.


The memorial of the German Army was built into the front of the Ravelin by Hans Wimmer to commemorate those who fell in the First and Second World War and was ceremoniously handed over to the custody of the German Army on October 29, 1972 . In November 2006 a stele was added and now also commemorates the soldiers of the Bundeswehr who died in the course of their service.

The fountain monument was erected on the western edge of the Upper Palace Courtyard in 1844. In a square basalt basin with a pipe pattern and small semicircular antechambers on each side is a well pillar with a ball as a crown . On the front it reads:

Ehrenbreitstein was built by Archbishop Hillinus in the year MCLX, destroyed by the enemy in the year MDCCCI. Recovered from its ruins and reinforced by Friedrich Wilhelm III from the year MDCCCXVII – MDCCCXCVII. "

On the Helfenstein is the 1935 inaugurated war memorial for fallen soldiers of the infantry regiment "von Goeben" (2nd Rheinisches) No. 28 , which was repeatedly garrison on the Ehrenbreitstein for a long time.

Institutions on the fortress

Reconstruction of a Roman pile driver, as Caesar used when building the Rhine bridge in 55 BC. Could have used

"Blue Route"

The " Landesmuseum Koblenz " has been based at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress since 1956. Permanent exhibitions on the economic and social history of the region include exhibitions on the Middle Rhine and Moselle in the departments of the main building in the upper courtyard, the house of photography, the house of pleasure, the house of archeology and the house of the Poignard collection. At times there was a reconstruction of a Roman pile driver on the fortress, as Caesar used when he built the Rhine bridge in 55 BC. Could have used. The greatest attraction, however, is the fortress itself. In addition to the history of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the original Greif cannon from the 16th century can be admired. In addition to the permanent exhibitions, changing special exhibitions are presented at the fortress.

"Red Route"

The youth hostel Koblenz with 157 beds and five lounges and seminar rooms is housed in the lower eastern front of the fortress . From November 2008 the youth hostel, which is operated by the German Youth Hostel Association , has been completely modernized and adapted to the current standard. After the renovation, it was reopened on December 28, 2010 with the DJH category IV. The house with meeting and event rooms offers a variety of sports and entertainment options. The Prussian "flag tower" is also part of the "red route".

The fortress shop, entrance, toilet (also for the disabled), information and a café are located in the so-called Entrance building.

Castles, palaces, antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate

The administration of the castles, palaces and antiquities owned by the State of Rhineland-Palatinate is based at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. It was re-established in May 1998 under the name Castles, Palaces, Antiquities of Rhineland-Palatinate (BSA), initially as a department of the State Office for Monument Preservation and is now a directorate of the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate (GDKE). She is the successor to the administration of the state palaces of Rhineland-Palatinate. The more than 2000 year old history of the actually still young state of Rhineland-Palatinate resulted in a multitude of Roman buildings, castles and palaces. The maintenance of these cultural buildings and preservation for future generations is the task of the GDKE. At the same time, the monuments are to be developed for tourism and made accessible to a larger public.




The high-altitude fireworks Rhine in Flames is shot every year on the second Saturday in August from the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress opposite Koblenz. Hundreds of thousands of visitors along the Rhine and Moselle promenades and on the ships of the largest ship parade in Europe follow this spectacle.

In 2011 and 2012 the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress was the venue for the streams of light . International artists and designers presented site-specific installations under the artistic direction of Bettina Pelz and Tom Groll. The FestungsLeuchten , a light art festival of lights and sounds, has been taking place in spring since 2013 .

A large number of other events take place, for example the history games, one of the largest history events in Germany, or the Prussian days. The history games bring a 3000-year history from the Celts , Romans and knights to the Electorates and Prussians to life. Music concerts from classical to rock to medieval music are also held at the fortress, as are the Zwischenwelten festival and the world music festival Horizonte . The Heeresmusikkorps Koblenz also uses the fortress as a backdrop for its concerts. The first craft beer festival took place at the fortress festival in June 2016 .

In the winter months, the hunt for the golden cannonball takes place on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 to 17:00. It is a paper chase with a questionnaire for children and young people.

Under the motto "GAUKLERFESTung", the jugglers and cabaret festival took place for the first time in 2013, no longer in the old town of Koblenz , but at the Ehrenbreitstein fortress.

Exhibitions in the fortress

The Landesmuseum Koblenz belongs to the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage of Rhineland-Palatinate and has been based in the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress since it was founded in 1956. It currently has four large exhibition halls in the fortress with permanent and temporary exhibitions. The focus is on photography, viticulture, archeology and enjoyment as well as economic and cultural history.

The “State Collection on the History of Photography” is presented in the “House of Photography” in the “Unnamed Tower”. The permanent exhibition provides an overview of the history of the medium from its beginnings to the present. Every year changing presentations on the medium of photography are shown here; since 2015 u. a. the exhibition of the renowned young talent development project “good prospects - young german photography”.

In the “House of Pleasure” in the “Long Line” is the permanent exhibition “WeinReich Rheinland-Pfalz”. It is complemented by tastings and a wine bar as well as thematically appropriate special presentations.

In the “House of Archeology”, the State Museum shows the permanent exhibition “Recovered Treasures. Archeology on the Middle Rhine and Moselle "as well as under the title" The current find "changing presentations of the state archeology. The "Archaeological Contemporary Gardens" with various historical theme gardens created for the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show are located on the roof. In the connected hands-on experience area, visitors can grasp history and touch objects that are otherwise in showcases.

In the “House of Cultural History” in the Upper Castle Courtyard, large changing exhibitions on various topics are regularly shown; including an annual children's and family exhibition in which guests can interactively deal with cultural history.

Monument protection

The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress is a protected cultural monument under the Monument Protection Act (DSchG) and entered in the list of monuments of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate . It is located in Koblenz-Ehrenbreitstein in the monument zone fortress Ehrenbreitstein .

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress has been part of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002 . It is a protected cultural asset under the Hague Convention and is marked with the blue and white trademark.

See also


in alphabetical order

  • Axel von Berg: Archaeological investigations in the area of ​​the "Great Traverse" at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Koblenz. In: Archeology in Rhineland-Palatinate, 2004, ed. from the State Office for Monument Preservation Rhineland-Palatinate - Department of Archaeological Monument Preservation, Zabern, Mainz 2005, pp. 109–113.
  • Manfred Böckling: Dark stories from Koblenz - beautiful & scary. Wartberg Verlag, Gudensberg-Gleichen 2018, pp. 9–11, 50–52 and 76–79, ISBN 978-3-8313-2976-2
  • Manfred Böckling: Simply great! Koblenz. 100 reasons to be proud of this city. Wartberg Verlag, Gudensberg-Gleichen 2015, pp. 5 f., 15, 19 f., 32, 36–38, 60 f., 83 f. and 105 f. ISBN 978-3-8313-2905-2
  • Manfred Böckling: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Photos: Heinz Straeter. 2., ext. Edition State Office for the Preservation of Monuments - Castles, Palaces, Antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate, Koblenz 2002 (= guide booklets of castles, palaces, antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate, guide booklet 17).
  • Manfred Böckling: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress . 2nd updated edition. Edition castles, palaces, antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate. Guide booklet 17. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2012 [1. Ed .: 2004], ISBN 978-3-7954-2474-9
  • Manfred Böckling: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress . Edition Castles, Palaces, Antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate, Short Guide No. 4. 3., completely revised. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-7954-6394-6
  • Manfred Böckling: A guarded lookout point on the Rhine. Guided tours of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in the 19th century. In: Regional history quarterly papers. Trier 47.2001, pp. 17-36. ISSN  0458-6905
  • Viktor Joseph Dewora : memorial of honor . Sources on the history of the coalition wars 1792–1801. Edited by Michael Embach. Messages and directories from the library of the Episcopal Seminary in Trier, Vol. 8. Trier: Paulinus-Verlag 1994. ISBN 3-7902-0155-3
  • Oliver Feinauer u. a .: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Images of change . Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2011. ISBN 978-3-7954-2516-6
  • Matthias Kellermann: The Prussian fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. On the history of the fortifications on the right bank of the Rhine , Fölbach, Koblenz 2011. ISBN 978-3-934795-63-1
  • Matthias Kellermann: Koblenz Fortress and Ehrenbreitstein. Entfestigung 1920–1922 - Photographs by Joseph Ring. Koblenz 2018, ISBN 978-3-95638-413-4 .
  • Dieter Kerber: Rulers in the Archbishopric Trier. Courtyard and residence in the late Middle Ages. Residenzforschung, Vol. 4. Sigmaringen: Thorbecke 1995. ISBN 3-7995-4504-2
  • Udo Liessem: Comments on some castles from the Salier period in the Middle Rhine region. In: Castles of the Salier period. 2 vol. Ed. V. Horst Wolfgang Böhhme. Part 2. 3rd edition. Sigmaringen: Thorbecke 1992. pp. 81–111. ISBN 3-7995-4134-9
  • Fritz Michel: The Ehrenbreitstein. Krabben'sche Buchdruckerei, Koblenz 1933.
  • Fritz Michel: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Krabben'sche Buchdruckerei, Koblenz 1933.
  • New research on fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. Volume 1. Ed. Castles, palaces, antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate a. German Society for Fortress Research. 2., revised. Aufl. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2005. ISBN 3-7954-1764-3
  • New research on fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. Volume 2. Ed. Of castles, palaces, antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate and the German Society for Fortress Research. Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner 2006, ISBN 3-7954-1910-7 This volume with a focus on Ehrenbreitstein Fortress brings together articles on the excavations on the Ehrenbreitstein, on the French siege, on supplying the Prussian fortress, on the planning of a military museum and on history the fortress in the 1940s.
  • New research on fortress Koblenz and Ehrenbreitstein. Volume 3. Ed. By General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate and German Society for Fortress Research. - Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner 2012. ISBN 978-3-7954-2475-6 . This volume contains a. Contributions to the Ehrenbreitstein in the Thirty Years' War, the effects of the sieges of the fortress 1795–1799 on the population, the use of the Ehrenbreitstein as a place of penal execution in the 18th century and especially in the Prussian period up to 1918, as well as the recent renovation and redevelopment of the Ehrenbreitstein's
  • Andreas Pecht: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Photographer: Ulrich Pfeuffer. Edited by the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate. Editors: Terry Blake, Manfred Böckling, Angela Kaiser-Lahme, Iris Ketterer-Senger. Edition castles, palaces, antiquities Rhineland-Palatinate, booklet 3. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-7954-1975-2
  • Wolfgang Seibrich : The holy rock exhibitions and holy rock pilgrimages from 1512 to 1765 . In: The Holy Rock in Trier. Studies in the history and worship of the tunic of Christ. On the occasion of the Heilig-Rock-Pilgrimage in 1996 on behalf of the Episcopal Vicariate General, ed. v. Erich Aretz u. a. Trier: Paulinus-Verlag 1995. pp. 175-217. ISBN 3-7902-0173-1
  • Thomas Tippach: Koblenz as a Prussian garrison and fortress city. Economy, infrastructure and urban development. Urban research. Row A. Representations. Vol. 53.Böhlau, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-412-08600-2
  • Klaus T. Weber: The Prussian fortifications of Koblenz (1815-1834) . Art and cultural studies research. Volume 1. Publishing house and database for the humanities, Weimar 2003, ISBN 3-89739-340-9
  • Petra Weiß: The recovery of cultural assets at the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. In: Yearbook for West German State History 26. Koblenz 2000, pp. 421–452. ISSN  0170-2025
  • Rüdiger Wischemann: Last siege of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. The Electoral Trier troops in the Revolutionary Wars and the siege of the Electoral Trier, imperial and imperial fortress Ehrenbreitstein by the French revolutionary troops 1795 to 1799., Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-89825-636-7
  • Rüdiger Wischemann: On the history of the Ehrenbreitstein fortress. Landesmuseum Koblenz, Koblenz 1998, ISBN 3-925915-63-X . (= Publications of the State Museum Koblenz, B. 63)
  • Ulrike Weber (edit.): Cultural monuments in Rhineland-Palatinate. Monument topography Federal Republic of Germany. Volume 3.3: City of Koblenz. Districts. Werner, Worms 2013, ISBN 978-3-88462-345-9 .

Web links

Commons : Ehrenbreitstein Fortress  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Ehrenbreitstein Fortress  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Ehrenbreitstein  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Ehrenbreitstein Fortress older than assumed in: Rhein-Zeitung , May 23, 2005
  2. ^ Illustration by Daniel Meisner from 1626: Hermanstein. Cautè ambulemus ( digitized version )
  3. ^ Udo von Bonin: History of the engineer corps and the pioneers in Prussia . 2: From 1812 to the middle of the nineteenth century. Berlin 1878. Friedrich Wilhelm Hansch: History of the Royal Saxon Engineer and Pioneer Corps (Pioneer Battalion No. 12) . Dresden 1898. Klemens Mersmann: History of the Royal Prussian Guard Pioneer Battalion . 2nd Edition. Berlin 1910. Military weekly paper [years 1816–1868] . Berlin. Ranking and quarters list of the Royal Prussian Army for the year ... [1817–1868] . Berlin. Archives: Garrison military church books, 18th and 19th centuries. Evangelical Central Archive in Berlin and Secret State Archive of Prussian Cultural Heritage .
  4. ^ Josef Henke: The fate of German contemporary historical sources in the war and post-war period. Seizure - repatriation - whereabouts. In: VfZ 1982 / Heft 4, p. 562.
  5. A mountain in transition - 3000 years of fortified place in:
  6. Doppelmayr is building one of the largest cable cars in Europe over the Rhine for the Koblenz BUGA. in: Rhein-Zeitung , November 27, 2008
  7. The greatest! Koblenz's Buga cable car now gondolas over the Rhine in: Rhein-Zeitung , July 2, 2010
  8. ^ Ehrenbreitstein Fortress: 500,000 visitors this year, even more events in the next in: Rhein-Zeitung , November 26, 2012
  9. Rhein-Seilbahn may stay until 2026 in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , June 19, 2013
  10. Ehrenbreistein Fortress: Without the cable car there would be less going on in: Rhein-Zeitung , June 26, 2014
  11. Financing is in place: Juggler festival moves to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in: Rhein-Zeitung , March 16, 2013
  12. General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate (ed.): Informational directory of cultural monuments - district-free city of Koblenz (PDF; 1.5 MB), Koblenz 2013
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on March 30, 2006 in this version .

Coordinates: 50 ° 21 ′ 54 ″  N , 7 ° 36 ′ 55 ″  E