Historic Buildings, Koblenz
At the crossroads in the Altstadt where Löhrstrasse / Marktstrasse meet Altengraben, just west of the Plan square, is a group of four ornate buildings known collectively as die Vier Türme or the Four Towers, although “towers” refers specifically to the Baroque oriel windows structures that project from and adorn the buildings. All four date originally from the 17th century, although two have been restored after the ravages of the World War Two bombing raids. The reason for their harmonious appearance is that following the destruction of Koblenz by the French in 1688, a uniform design was used for the restoration of the old damaged buildings and the addition of any new ones. The towers are on:
~ the Green Tree house (“Zum Grünen Baum") which stands on the south east corner and dates from 1692, rebuilt in 1950 (photo two)
~ the St. Peter House, on the south west corner and dating from 1691 (photo three)
~ the Haus Raffauf on the north west corner, from 1608 but with the oriel added 1690 (photos four and five)
~ the Haus Eierstock on the north east
By the way, I must give 100% of the credit for the idea of my main photo to Isa, who first thought to stand in the centre of the crossroads and point her camera directly upwards – great idea!
Next tip: something else to make you look up
I saw a lot of the Jesuitenplatz as my hotel was located here, and that suited me fine as it’s a really attractive small square. The overall appearance is very harmonious. On the east side is the Jesuitenkirche, the (Roman Catholic) parish church of the city – see my separate tip for more on this. It is tucked into the southwest corner and along the south side of the square, adjacent to it, lies the former Jesuit college that belonged to the church – the sign above its arched entrance reads “Collegium Societatis Iesi”. This has a lovely steep roof with red-shuttered gable windows, and is nowadays Koblenz’s town hall, the Rathaus. It dates largely from the 16th and 17th centuries and is one of very few buildings in the old town not to have been badly damaged or destroyed by Allied air raids in World War Two.
Facing the church across the square, on its west side, is the Altstadt Hotel, and the fourth, north side has a row of shops, in more varied but nevertheless historic and attractive buildings. In the centre of the square is a monument from 1899 which commemorates the Koblenz physiologist and anatomist, Johannes Mueller. I have read that local people sometimes say that he used to face the other direction, towards the town hall and mayor’s office, but he didn't like what he saw so he turned his back on it.
Next tip: the Jesuitenkirche
The Higher Regional Court of Koblenz is another lovely building to view, as is the Courthouse.
Both buildings were built between 1902-1910. Luckily, this building didn't suffer any damage through-out the War.
It was used as the former official residence of the district president of the administrative district of Koblenz. Location is at 7 Government Street, Koblenz.
The building at Stresemannstrasse 1, was bombed heavily during the Second World War in 1947. It was built as official residence for the President of the Upper Rhine province in neo-baroque design, and from 1920 to 1929, was used as the Office of the Chief Commissioner of Inter-Allied High Commission for the Rhineland
I really like seeing nice old architecture, and the "BWB" [Federal Ministry of Defense] is one of those building's.
I could only view from the outside as it is part of the civil defense administration and the largest technical authority in Germany.
The BWB is housed in the former Prussian government building, on the banks of the Rhine in Koblenz court.
The Prussian government building was built between 1902 & 1906 in the Romanesque Revival style. This huge, four story building, looked a bit like a Castle with its many tower's and Turret's. Its main entrance faces the Rhine, and on the front facade are three copper sculptures with the St. George and allegories on viticulture (female figure) and shipping (male figure) of the brothers Cauer.
These historic buildings house the Middle Rhine Museum, which features romantic paintings of scenes in the Rhine Valley, and two small theaters, the Kammerspiele and the Studio-Bühne.
Several years ago I saw a very funny performance here of the operetta Die lustigen Niebelungen (The Merry Nibelungs) by Oscar Straus (1870-1954), an incredibly talented Austrian composer who is not related to any other composer you might have heard of.
This operetta from the year 1904 is a biting but very melodic spoof of Wagner's Ring and of German militarism an arrogance during the reign of Emperor Wilhelm II. It was a huge success in theaters all over Germany and Austria for the first four years, until in 1908 right-wing nationalists started demonstrating violently against it, calling it a "mockery of our people's most splendid possession, our Nibelung saga, the mightiest work of world literature in general." Theater directors were quickly intimidated by the violence and removed The Merry Nibelungs from their programs.
Straus nonetheless did very well with his forty or so other operettas and musicals, not only in Germany and Austria, but later also in France and America. When he had to flee from the Nazis he first went to France and became a French citizen, and later did the same in America, where he composed some very successful film scores and Broadway musicals like The Chocolate Soldier.
For more on Oscar Straus and some of his contemporaries, please see my tip/review called The lost generation of opera composers on my Zürich page.
Second photo: The Middle Rhine Museum and one of the theaters.
Third photo: Back view of the Middle Rhine Museum, on the Moselle River.
When visiting fortress Ehrenbreitstein you will most likely come across the so called “Dikasterialgebäude”. It’s a lovely Baroque style building situated beneath the fortress, right next to the entranceway of the chair lift towards Ehrenbreitstein. It was built between 1739 – 1749 for Prince Elector (Kurfürst) Franz Georg von Schönborn and designed by Balthasar Neumann and his student Johannes Seitz. It housed the so called Dikasterium (dicastery), a secular authority responsible for the electoral courts and the State Planning Authority of Northern Rhineland-Palatinate. The Dikasterial Building was originally located right next to castle Philippsburg, one of the most important Baroque buildings along the Rhein (built in 1629). The castle itself has, unfortunately, been irreparably damaged in 1801 at the intrusion of the French Revolution army commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte. Castle Philippsburg had to be torn down but the dicastery building as well as a few more representative Rococo buildings (Krumstall and Marstall) have survived in their original structure. The building today houses the federal media centre.
Vier Türme (Four Towers) is the name of a group of buildings you will find at the old town. These 4 houses, flanking the crossing of Marktstrasse and Löhrstrasse, attract attention as their facades all have elaborate stone oriels and partly also have beautiful half-timbered constructions. The houses date back to the early 17th century but during the Nine Years’ War (1688 – 1697) suffered severe damage. The renovation followed soon after, though. A uniform design was used for the restoration, following construction plans of Johann Christoph Sebastiani.
All 4 houses have been denominated: St. Peter house stands on the South side, with the Green Tree House (Haus zum grünen Baum) standing to ist left (the Green Tree House is easy to spot as there actually IS a green tree painted on the stone oriel). House Raffauf and the red House Eierstock stand on the North side of the crossroads.
The houses again got damaged during WWII but have once more been affectionately restored and even partly extended in 1950. The Four Towers have become sort of a landmark of Koblenz. Only few late medieval/ early modern houses at this part of the old town have survived WWII and people are especially proud of their preservation.
The Catholic parish church Herz-Jesu (Sacred Heart) was built between 1900 – 1903, following construction plans of cathedral architect Ludwig Becker. In terms of area it is the biggest Catholic church in the Koblenz city centre and it also is one of the most important Neo-Romanesque sacred buildings of Germany. The church is located right at the transition of the historic old town to the Southern suburb. At the end of the 19th century the population of Koblenz had considerably increased to a number of around 30,000. And at this period of time there were only 2 Catholic churches at the municipal area: Liebfrauen (Church of our Lady) and St. Castor and so the construction of a new church was deemed necessary.
Sacred Heart Church was built at the site of the former Löhr Gate, part of the Prussian fortifications which were torn down in 1897. The consecration took place on 19th of May 1904. The Neo-Romanesque structure was severely damaged and burned out completely in WW II, though. Restoration works were finished in 1952.
The beautiful late medieval building called „Bürresheimer Hof“ can be found at Florinsmarkt (St. Florin’s Square) right at the heart of the old town. It was built in 1659/ 60 for Lothar Ferdinand von der Leyen-Nickenich, a bailiff of the electorate of Trier. The building remained in possession of his family until 1714 and at that time it was known as „Nickenicher Hof“. The name was later changed as in early 18th century the building passed to the barons of Breitbach – Bürresheim.
In 1848 the building was sold to the Jewish community of Koblenz. It was used as a synagogue from 1851 until 1938 when during the so called „Night of broken Glass“ around 200 synagogues in Germany were destroyed. The complete inventory of the synagogue was smashed that night but the building remained intact until 1944 when Bürresheimer Hof burnt down. It got restored from war damage in 1955/ 56 and since 1965 the building houses parts of the Mittelrhein Museum. Exhibits include a city history collection, Baroque sculptures and paintings and works of Dutch and Middle Rhenish artists. At the museum there also is a room dedicated to the remembrance of the Jewish victims of the NS regime. If you wish to visit the remembrance room, preregistration is necessary (phone: +49 261/129 2652).
located at the florinsmakt is the kaufhaus built between 1419 and 1425. in 1536 the robber barron johann von kobem was tried in koblenz and beheaded at the am platz. his trial lasted six months and he never said a word. just before his execution he said that if his face was put on the facade of the kaufhaus koblenz would experience an economic boom. 200 years later someone saw the records of the trial and von kobem's statement. his face was put on the kaufhaus and koblenz imediately had a period of prosperity. the mechanical likeness of von kobem shifts his eyes and periodically sticks out his tongue at passers by. the kaufhaus is also home to the middle rhine museum.
the deutschherrenhaus was koblenz's home to the teutonic knights. archbishop theoderich von wied invited the teutonic knights to come to koblenz in 1216. today the deutshherrenhaus is home to the ludwig museum. the ludwig museum was founded by peter ludwig in 1985 and houses a collection of 20th century french art.
in 1216 archbishop theoderich von wied invited the knights of the teutonic order to koblenz. pictured is the teutonic cross on the wall of the knight's headquarters in koblenz.