Deutsches Eck ('German Corner') is the name of a headland in Koblenz where the river Mosel joins the Rhine. In 1897, nine years after the death of the German Emperor William I, the former emperor was honoured with a giant equestrian statue.
In 1945, the statue was badly damaged by an American artillery shell. Soon afterwards it was completely taken down. The French military government planned to replace the old memorial with a monument for peace and understanding among nations, but this concept was never realized.
After the formation of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic in 1949, the country was divided into a capitalist west and a communist east. In order to express the deep wish for a united Germany, President Theodor Heuss turned the German Corner into a monument to German unity. As a result, the coats of arms of all German Länder (states), including those of former German territories such as Silesia, East Prussia and Pomerania, were installed. Replacing the destroyed equestrian statue, a German flag flew over the plaza.
After the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989, three concrete parts of the actual wall were installed next to the monument. On 3 October 1990, the emblems of the new federal states were added.
With German Reunification in 1990, the German Corner no longer served as a symbol of the aspiration for a united Germany. Thus, a discussion arose regarding a remodelling of the plaza. Critics considered the reinstallation of the equestrian statue of Wilhelm I as out of time and improper, whereas promoters saw the opportunity for tourist benefits. As the owner of the site, any decision to reinstall a statue of Wilhelm I rested with the government of the Rhineland-Palatinate. However, the state government transferred its rights to the city of Koblenz and when Werner and Anneliese Theisen (a couple from Koblenz) announced that they would bear all costs for a reconstruction of the statue, the decision was made to proceed.
The Düsseldorf sculptor, Raymond Kittl, was commissioned to produce a replica of the original sculpture and the remodelled statue was created from durable bronze cast unlike the original which had been made from copper plates. In May 1992, the parts of the statue were brought to Koblenz on board the MS Futura. The assembly work was completed at the port and on 2 September 1993 a mobile lattice boom crane lifted the statue onto the base. The installation took place on Sedan Day, which although no longer officially recognized, was the day on which the German victory in the Battle of Sedan was commemorated. On 25 September 1993, the new statue was inaugurated.
Today, a big national flag and the flags of the 16 Länder are flying at the German Corner as a reminder of German unity. The three parts of the Berlin Wall are now dedicated to the 'victims of the division'.References:
The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.
The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.
In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.
In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.
After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.
In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.
In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.