The Kastorbrunnen on the forecourt of the Basilica of St. Kastor in Koblenz is a curious testimony to the Napoleonic Wars. Built in 1812, the fountain was connected to the first electoral water supply system.
Jean Marie Thérèse Doazan, the prefect of the French Département de Rhin-et-Moselle, had the neoclassical fountain made of basalt blocks erected in front of the Kastor Church in 1812. Its hastily composed inscription, moreover chiselled in orthographically incorrect French, was intended to commemorate Napoleon’s supposedly successful Russian campaign. The text reads:
- “An mdcccxii / Mémorable par la campagne contre les Russes / sous le Préfectura de Jules Doazan.”
- (engl.: In 1812 / Memorial to the campaign against the Russians / under the prefecture of Jules Doazan.)
In fact, Napoleon’s Russian campaign ended in disaster. In the Sixth Coalition War, on New Year’s Eve in 1814, the predominantly Russian army corps under General Saint-Priest, which formed the right wing of Blücher’s Silesian Army, crossed the Rhine between Neuwied and the mouth of the Lahn, centring on Koblenz. The French had vacated the town shortly before, leaving it to the Russians without a fight. Their commander, however, showed humour and did not have Doazan’s fountain or the first inscription removed, but put a second one underneath. It reads:
- “Vu et approuvé par nous Commandant / russe de la ville de Coblentz / le 1er janvier 1814.”
- (Engl.: Seen and approved by us, Russian commander of the city of Koblenz, on 1 January 1814.)
The Kastorbrunnen is a large square block made of Niedermendiger basalt blocks and originally stood in the middle of the square. It was created by the Aachen sculptor Rauch according to plans by the military engineer Dagobert Chauchet and has a high, fluted base as well as a widely projecting, also fluted end plate. Two semi-circular fountain bowls made of Lahn marble are attached. The fountain was fed with spring water from the Metternich water supply and supplied the Kastor quarter with clean drinking water from 15 August 1812 (the emperor’s birthday). It carried a group of figures made of limestone with the personifications of the Rhine and Moselle. Due to severe weathering, the sculpture was removed shortly after 1817. In the 1950s, the fountain, which the French had placed in the axis of Kastorgasse and thus in the line of sight to the Kastor Church, was moved a few metres to the north to clear the view of the church.
The Kastorbrunnen is a protected cultural monument according to the Denkmalschutzgesetz (DSchG) and registered in the list of monuments of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. It is located in Koblenz-Altstadt at the Kastorhof.
Since 2002, the Kastorbrunnen has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
- List of fountains in Koblenz
- Fritz Michel: Die Kunstdenkmäler der Stadt Koblenz. Die profanen Denkmäler und die Vororte, München Berlin 1954, pp. 176-180 (Die Kunstdenkmäler von Rheinland-Pfalz Erster Band).
- Energieversorgung Mittelrhein GmbH (ed.): Geschichte der Stadt Koblenz. Overall editorship: Ingrid Bátori in conjunction with Dieter Kerber and Hans Josef Schmidt
- Vol. 1: From the beginnings to the end of the electoral period. Theiss, Stuttgart 1992. ISBN 3-8062-0876-X
- Vol. 2: From the French city to the present. Theiss, Stuttgart 1993. ISBN 3-8062-1036-5
- Cultural Monuments in Rhineland-Palatinate Volume 3.2. City of Koblenz. City centre, edited by Herbert Dellwing and Reinhard Kallenbach, Speyer 2004, p. 152. ISBN 3-88462-198-X
- Wolfgang Schütz: Koblenzer Köpfe. Persons of the city history. Names of streets and squares. 2. Revised and expanded edition. Verlag für Anzeigenblätter GmbH, Mülheim-Kärlich 2005.
– Collection of images, videos and audio files
- Kastor fountain in: regionalgeschichte.net
- General Directorate of Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate (ed.) Memorandum index of cultural monuments – District-free city of Koblenz (PDF; 1.5 MB), Koblenz 2013