Legendary German politician and chancellor Otto von Bismarck died in 1898. One year later, student fraternities all over Germany decided to commemorate the man by building stone towers based on a design by architect Wilhelm Kreis. The idea became quite popular, and so, somewhat strangely in retrospect, tower after tower went up all around Germany – some of them following Kreis’ design, other not. 240 altogether were built in the years before World War 1.
Cologne also has one of these. Based on a design by Berlin architect Arnold Hartmann and built in 1902, this one even depicts the mighty politician – somewhat warlike in full armour holding a giant sign with the German eagle on it. I always wondered why they made him face the Rhine (and the interior of Germany) – in those days, when Cologne was still a fortress city, the ‘old enemy’ France was in the other direction. For me, it remains one of the last reminders of the old Prussian fortress city that was almost eradicated by World War 2 and all the city planning afterwards. And a pleasant place to sit and follow old Otto’s gaze over the Rhine.