Koblenz: 1st and 2nd Deutsches Eck (German Corner)
Above: West view to Deutsches Eck from Ehrenbreitstein. 2015 photo by Taxiarchos228 (Wladyslaw Sojka). I’ve added the following labels: (1) Seilbahn/Gondola, (2) St. Kastor Basilica, (3) Deutschherrenhaus, (4) first Deutsches Eck, (5) Memorial to German Unity (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial), (6) reclamation in the late 19th-century, (7) second Deutsches Eck.
Many will know, have seen, or have read about the Deutsches Eck (German Corner) in the German city of Koblenz. The river city has plenty to provide: visitors wander into the vineyards to sip on crisp white wine from local grapes, vacation on long cabin-boats to enjoy the river scenery, or explore the surrounding Upper Rhine River Valley.
But Koblenz is also well known by virtue of its name after the junction where the rivers Moselle and Rhine meet. By the first-century AD/CE, the Romans had built for strategic protection a fort1 called “Castellum apud Confluentes“, Latin for “the castle at the confluence”. What most commonly acknowledge as the Deutsches Eck (German corner) is not the original location. Half concealed among the trees some 200 metres back near the Deutschherrenhaus is the first location of the Deutsches Eck.
- a map to the area and my photos from the present-day,
- a short history of the “Deutsches Eck,” and
- archival images from the mid-16th century to early 20th century.
Map + my images (A-F by HL)
The locations of the first and second Deutsches Eck are indicated by red cross and orange flag, respectively, in the map below. The approximate shoreline before 1850 is shown as a thick blue line. Click on the “arrow-window” icon at the upper-left corner for the legend.
Short history of the Deutsches Eck
Near the junction where the Moselle river joins the Rhine, St. Kastor Church2 had long been present since its establishment in the 9th-century AD/CE. In 1216, the Deutscher Orden (Teutonic or German Order3) founded at the river junction the Deutschherrenhaus or the Deutschordenhaus (House of the Knights of the German Order) including a hospital, all next to St. Kastor Church. The favourable location would soon be called the “Deutscher Ordt” (Place/Ort of the German Order/Orden) and later the “Deutsches Eck” (German Corner).
The Cross of the Teutonic Order (Crux Ordis Teutonicorum) appears at the base of the corner tower as part of the wall surrounding the Deutschherrenhaus. The cross would have been visible to anyone sailing the waters of the two rivers. With the symbol originating from the 13th-century as a black-and-white cross pattée, the emblem formed the basis for the development of the Iron Cross (Eisernes Kreuz) in the early 19th-century4.
Land reclamation north of the Deutschherrenhaus moved the location of the Deutsches Eck to the northeast by about 200 metres by the mid- to late-19th century. Standing prominently at the “new” Deutsches Eck, the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial with an equestrian statue standing 14 metres (46 feet) tall was inaugurated in 1897, built in acknowledgement of the 1871 unification of German lands into a greater German Empire. After destruction in the Second World War, the remnants would be reconstructed and incorporated into a larger Memorial to German Unity in 1953. Plaques embedded into the cobblestone provide descriptions in German, English, and French about the context of the memorial in relation to modern Germany.
The second world war and subsequent years took their toll on the Deutschherrenhaus; complete reconstruction of the building began in 1989. By 1992 the site became home to the Ludwig Museum to house the city’s collection of modern and contemporary art. The Museum celebrated in 2016 the 800th anniversary of the Deutschherrenhaus and presence of the Deutscher Orden in Koblenz.
The Deutsches Eck and the city of Koblenz are included within the inscription area for the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site (2002).
Archival images (G-K, chronological)
1 After over a century of searching throughout Koblenz’s Old Town for existence of the original Roman settlement, construction in 2008 near St. Kastor church revealed the existence of a moat or trench (8-meters long, 4-meters wide, and 2.5-metres deep) for a castle dating back to the Roman Empire.
2 St. Kastor Church was rebuilt in the 11th to 12th-century, destroyed in the Second World War, and subsequently rebuilt in the mid-1950s.
3 During the medieval Crusades, the Deutscher Orden was founded about 1190 AD/CE in the Mediterranean port city of Acre (Akko/Akka) in present-day northern Israel. The order’s present-day headquarters and central archives are in Vienna, Austria with satellites throughout Europe including Germany.
4 The Iron Cross is prominent and central at the 1821 Prussian National Monument on the top of a hill in Berlin’s Viktoriepark (Victoria Park). For the cross and hill, the surrounding area and neighbourhood are commonly known as Kreuzberg (“cross mountain”).
More, in German:
• Regional Geschichten
• Schängel Geschichten
• KuLaDig: Kultur.Landschaft.Digital (“Frührömisches Kastell Koblenz”)
Thanks to Koblenz Touristik and Romantic Germany for advice and support. Koblenz is a featured city in the Historic Highlights of Germany. The featured photo at top is by Wladyslaw Sojka (via Wikipedia). I made photos labelled (A) to (F) on 26 and 27 November 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-7IN.
7 Responses to “Koblenz: 1st and 2nd Deutsches Eck (German Corner)”
As always I love your posts from Germany, it teaches me a lot about my home country.
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Thanks, Cornelia, and you’re welcome! I approached writing this from questions some might ask: “What do you mean this isn’t the original Deutsches Eck? Where is the first Eck? How did this happen?” 😉
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Where does the gondola go?
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Excellent question: in summer season, the cable car is a speedy way to go over the Rhine river between the city’s Altstadt on the west bank and Ehrenbreitstein Fortress on the east bank. Thanks for reading!
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[…] (left) flows into the Rhein at the 2nd Deutsches Eck – 27 Nov 2015 […]
[…] In central Vienna, the Deutschordenshaus building is the world headquarters for the Order of the Teutonic Knights of St. Mary’s hospital in Jerusalem, also known as the Teutonic Order. The group has roots in the Third Crusade, established as a military hospital near the Mediterranean port city of Acre (Akko/Akka) around 1190 AD/CE. The Order established satellites all over Europe, including Vienna whose presence here was established in the early 13th-century. In 1809, the Order moved its headquarters to Vienna. Graced with 17th- and 18th-century design, the building today houses not only offices, but also its central archives and Treasury (Schatzkammer). As seen on the door in the image above, the Order’s symbol is the Cross of the Teutonic Order (Crux Ordis Teutonicorum), very much like the one visible at the 1st “Deutsches Eck” (German Corner) in Koblenz. […]
[…] Separate full post: 1st & 2nd Deutsches Eck. […]