Founded by the Romans as Antunnacum in 12 BC on the site of an old Celtic settlement probably called Antunnuac, Andernach is one of the oldest towns in Germany which as such held its "Bimillenary feast" in 1988. Both the Roman and the Celtic names mean "village or farm of Antunnos/us"—a man not yet identified. It was the southernmost outpost of the Electorate of Cologne from the 12th to the 19th century. In addition to the touristically appealing medieval remnants of the old town fortifications, the city of Andernach is the location of several old industrial plants such as a huge malt mill (the last one of more than ten mills and breweries from the 19th and 20th centuries dismantled in 2008). Among the more modern of its industrial / manufacturing base is a large steel-mill to produce cold formed tin plate and companies manufacturing medicinal products, raw food materials, cast iron products, engines and engine parts. Tourists who come to the region usually visit the medieval fortifications such as the 183 feet (56 m) tall "Round Tower" (Ger. "Der Runde Turm") finished in 1453, the archiepiscopal (Electorate of Cologne) castle ruins with a well-preserved keep, and the remains of the town wall with several well-restored wall towers and two gates: the "Rhine Gate" (das "Rheintor") built around 1200 as the "Grain Gate" (die "Kornpforte"; last renovation and reconstruction in 1899 after 17th century plans) and the "Coblencian Gate" ("Koblenzer Tor"), originally called the "Castle Gate" ("Burgpforte"); in medieval and Renaissance times up to the 19th century the German word "Pforte" (from Latin "porta") was used for town and church gates instead of "Tor".
Another attraction from its ancient industrial past is the "Old Crane" of Andernach (Ger. der "Alte Krahnen"), a 16th-century stony land based treadwheel tower crane 29 feet (8.8 m) in diameter and 31 feet (9.4 m) high situated outside the town downstream close to the river bank of the old harbour where it replaced an even older 14th century wooden floating treadwheel crane. For 350 years it was in operation from 1561 to 1911. Two to four men were required to rotate the crane top by means of a huge double ended lever (horizontal wooden bar) attached to the vertical wooden crane "beam" and four others on a (treadwheel men or menials) to operate the huge wooden twin treadwheels (more than 14 feet (4.3 m) in diameter) which lifted and lowered the load—mainly millstones, tuff-stone blocks for the Netherlands and wine casks. This treadwheel crane with stone walls (most cranes had a timber housing) is one of only a few of its kind in Europe to have survived. A prince-electoral order or permission was needed to build and operate such a crane in the times of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Catholic "St. Mary Assumption Parish Church" locally known as "Church of Our Lady" or "St. Mary's Cathedral" (Ger. "Pfarrkirche Maria Himmelfahrt", "Liebfrauenkirche", or "Mariendom") is the oldest historical attraction in Andernach, some of which date back to the 11th century.
The town palais "von der Leyen house" (Ger. "Haus von der Leyen"), named after its builder district magistrate and governor of the prince-elector, "Georg III von der Leyen," dates back to 1600. Built in renaissance and baroque styles it now houses the town museum since 1936 and again since 1969. It displays among others a fine model of the Roman "castrum" Antunnacum, a 17th-century town model in ~1:600 scale and a thoroughly assembled model (~1:90) of the prince-electoral town castle.
One of Andernach's natural attractions is the world's highest (max. 210 feet (64 m)) cold-water geyser, driven by carbon dioxide with force generated in a fashion similar to that in a shaken bottle of table water. It is located a little less than half a mile downstream from the "Crane" in the Nature Reserve of "Namedyer Werth" (MHG for "island of Namedy), now a peninsula. Activated for the first time in 1903, the geyser was shut down in 1957 but reactivated early in the current century as yet another city attraction.
In the 12th century, Benjamin of Tudela described Andernach as one of the 13 on the Rhine with important Jewish communities. Jewish residents in Andernach were first mentioned in the Köln archives in 1255. The Jewish community was periodically persecuted during the 13th to 15th centuries. On 3 August 1287 Archbishop Siegfried II of Westerburg issued a protection decree for the town Jews from the local Burghers. Persecutions occurred especially during the 14th century by the Arnold von Uissigheim "Armleder" persecutions and in 1348–1349, as a result of the Black Death Jewish persecutions. It appears as if between the 15th and the 19th centuries no Jews lived in Andernach. In 1860, a new Jewish community was founded in Andernach. Its cemetery, dated to 1888, is part of the city cemetery on KoblenzerStrasse. On Kristallnacht in 1938, the town synagogue was set on fire and most of the young men were taken to Dachau concentration camp. At least 11 Jews who used to live in Andernach died during the Holocaust, and no Jews lived in Andernach after 1945. Several sites commemorate the history of Jewish community of Andernach. An ancient Jewish Mikveh, dated to the 13th century, is one of the oldest ones in Europe and can be found under the old town house, built in the 16th century close to the site where the synagogue stood. The Mikveh can be visited.
Till 1969 the Lord Mayor was named Mayor.
The Dutch folk song "T'Andernaken" (In Andernach) was very popular all over western Europe in the 15th/16th century and set to music by numerous composers of the period such as Obrecht, Brumel, King Henry VIII, Agricola, Hofhaimer, Senfl.
The famous Lake Laach (Ger. "Laacher See", literally "'Laachian' or 'Laky' Lake", i.e. "Lacustrine Lake" or "Lake of the Lake", comparable to the naming of "Loch Lochy" in Scotland) is the largest maar-like lake in the Eifel (more precisely a water-filled caldera) and has a 12th-century Benedictine monastery. The famous Abbey of Maria Laach is 12 miles (19 km) west of the town in the southern Fore-Eifel (Ger. Südliche Voreifel or Vordereifel, the south-eastern forelands of the Eifel).
Namedy Castle is situated in a village on the Rhine, adjacent to Andernach in north-western direction. In 1909 it was purchased by Prince Karl Anton of Hohenzollern and his wife Princess Joséphine Caroline of Belgium. Today it is managed by their grandsons' widow, Princess Heide of Hohenzollern, housing concerts, theatre plays, art exhibitions, dinners and other events.
During World War II, a transit camp for the Nazi Euthanasia Action T4 victims was active in town. The institute in Andernach sent mentally ill patients and disabled people to the Hadamar Euthanasia Centre, where victims were put to death. Between 1941 and 1944, about 1,560 people were sent to die in Hadamar through the Andernach transit hospital.Action T4 who went through the transit hospital in town. The interior of the memorial is lined with mirrors on which the names of the known victims are engraved. 400 other dots stand for anonymous victims whose names are unknown to this day.
Andernach station is on the Left Rhine line and the Eifelquer Railway. It is served by InterCity, Regional-Express (the Rhein-Express, at hourly intervals) and Regionalbahn services (MittelrheinBahn, at hourly intervals) operating between Cologne and Koblenz. It is also served by Regionalbahn on the Eifelquer Railway to Kaisersesch at hourly intervals.