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. Koblenz 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.
(A) First Deutsches Eck, with the Cross of the German (Teutonic) Order at the base of the former corner tower. At centre-right is the Gate of the Knights of the German Order, leading into the inner courtyard of the Deutschherrenhaus with its own cross near the rooftop.
(B) Left-centre: cross of the German (Teutonic) Order at the 1st Deutsches Eck. At the location where I made this photo, I would’ve been treading water in the Moselle river before 1850; see the archival images (G) and (H) below.
(C) Kaiser Wilhelm equestrian statue and Memorial, inaugurated in 1897.
(D) From the Kaiser Wilhelm equestrian statue, north to the 2nd Deutsches Eck and confluence or junction of the Moselle and Rhine rivers.
(E) Facing south from 2nd Deutsches Eck: Memorial to German Unity, and flags for 16 German federal states, Germany, the European Union, and the U.S.; Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial.
(F) Facing north at the 2nd Deutsches Eck, to the German flag and the confluence of the Moselle river (left) with the Rhine.
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 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 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 since 2002.
Archival images (G-K, chronological)
(G) Mid-17th century Koblenz, facing east to the Ehrenbreistein-Philippsburg complex. At right is the Deutschordenhaus (Deutschherrenhaus) with the corner tower and gate indicated; compare this image with images (A) and (B) above. Copper engraving from the 1646 volume “Topographia Archiepiscopatuum Moguntinensis, Treuirensis et Coloniensis” by Matthäus Merian. Sources: Digitale Texte Universität Köln and Münchener DigitalisierungsZentrum.
(H) 1847 map with north up: where the Moselle (Mosel-Fluß) meets the Rhine, with the Deutschherrenhaus at the corner and junction. From “Coblenz und Umgebung in der Brusttasche” (1847); sources: Stadarchiv Koblenz and dilibri Rheinland-Pfalz.
(I) About 1875, west view of Koblenz and the Deutsches Eck. I’ve added the white dashed line to outline the construction that would take place over the next two decades until the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial was inaugurated in 1897; compare this 1875 view with the modern-day view at the very top of this post. Source: Stadtarchiv Koblenz (unknown photographer).
(J) 1888 map with north up. Continuing land reclamation has produced the “Mosel-Werft-Bassin”, extending north from the “old” Deutsches Eck and Deutschherrenhaus. Source: Stadtarchiv Koblenz.
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 port city of Acre 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.