Germany > Cochem


Cochem is the seat of and the biggest town in the Cochem-Zell district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. With just over 5,000 inhabitants, Cochem falls just behind Kusel, in the Kusel district, as Germany's second smallest district seat. Since 7 June 2009, it has belonged to the Verbandsgemeinde of Cochem.



Cochem lies at an elevation of some 83 m above sea level and the municipal area measures 21.2 km². The town centre with the outlying centre of Sehl upstream lies on the Moselle's left bank, while the constituent centre of Cond lies on its right. A further constituent centre, Brauheck, with its commercial area, air force barracks and new town development, lies in the heights of the Eifel on Bundesstraße 259, some 2 km (1 mi) from the town centre. Emptying into the Moselle in Cochem are the Kraklebach, the Ebernacher Bach, the Sehlerbach, the Falzbach, the Märtscheltbach and the Enthetbach.


As early as Celtic and Roman times, Cochem was settled. In 886, it had its first documentary mention as Villa cuchema. Other names yielded by history are Cuhckeme and Chuckeme in 893, Cochemo in 1051, Chuchumo in 1056, Kuchema in 1130, Cuchemo in 1136, Cocheme in 1144, then Cuchme, and into the 18th century Cochheim or Cocheim. Cochem was an Imperial estate. It was pledged by King Adolf of Nassau in 1294 to the Archbishopric of Trier and remained Electoral-Trier territory until the French occupation began in 1794. In 1332, Cochem was granted town rights, and shortly thereafter, the town fortifications, which still stand today, were built. Between 1423 and 1425, the town was stricken with a Plague epidemic. In 1623, Elector Lothar von Metternich brought about the founding of a Capuchin monastery. In the Thirty Years' War, the town was besieged, but not conquered. In 1689, King Louis XIV's troops first burnt the Winneburg (castle) down and then conquered the town of Cochem with its castle. Reconstruction was long and drawn out. Beginning in 1794, Cochem lay under French rule. In 1815 it was assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia at the Congress of Vienna.

Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené bought the ruin of the former Imperial castle in 1866 and began its reconstruction. Only after a bridge was built across the Moselle at Cochem in 1927 were the two fishing villages of Cond and Sehl amalgamated with the town in the course of administrative reform in 1932. This bridge, called the "Skagerrak Bridge", was dedicated on 23 January 1927. In the Second World War, great parts of Cochem's old town were destroyed. Also during the war, the operations staff of the underground subcamp of Zeisig of the Natzweiler concentration camp between the villages of Bruttig and Treis was located here. At its height, 13,000 people were imprisoned. They provided slave labour for Bosch, which made spark plugs, ignition systems and glow plugs, which were important to the German war effort, under brutal conditions.

Since 1946, Cochem has been part of the then newly founded state of Rhineland-Palatinate.


Town council

The council is made up of 22 council members, who were elected at the municipal election held on 25 May 2014, and the honorary mayor as chairman.


Cochem's mayor is since 2011 Wolfgang Lambertz, and his deputies are Walter Schmitz, Carola Stern-Gilbaya and Karl-Josef Mons.

Coat of arms

The town's arms might be described thus: Per pale argent a cross gules and gules issuant from dexter a sinister hand of the first vested sable holding two keys in saltire Or, the wards to chief.

The town of Cochem and its castle were held by the Archbishops of Trier beginning in 1298. They also granted Cochem town rights in 1332. The charges in the town's arms are thus purely references to its long history with the Electorate of Trier. The red cross on the dexter (armsbearer's right, viewer's left) side is Trier's old armorial bearing, and the keys on the sinister (armsbearer's left, viewer's right) side are Saint Peter's attribute, thus representing Trier's patron. This composition appeared in the earliest known town seal, from the early 15th century, which likely dates from a bit earlier, the late 14th century.

Town partnerships

Cochem fosters partnerships with the following places:

Political development

After both the town council and the Verbandsgemeinde council approved the motion on 23 October 2008, the until then Verbandsgemeinde-free town of Cochem became part of the Verbandsgemeinde of Cochem-Land on 7 June 2009. In connection with this, the state government also enacted a law on 18 February 2009 that deals with, among other things, the transfer of ownership of certain properties from the town to the Verbandsgemeinde. The Verbandsgemeinde also changed its name with the amalgamation of Cochem, becoming the Verbandsgemeinde of Cochem.

Culture and sightseeing

Cochem (main centre)



Other sightseeing

Other things worth seeing in Cochem include the Pinnerkreuz, a lookout point overlooking the town and the former Imperial castle (Reichsburg), which can be reached by chairlift. There is also a promenade along the Moselle. Further points of interest are the historic Senfmühle ("Mustard Mill") and the water gauge house on the Moselle.

More detailed information about the castles and some of the ecclesiastical buildings mentioned above follows.

Cochem Imperial castle

The Reichsburg Cochem had its first documentary mention in 1130. In 1151, it was occupied by King Konrad III, who declared it an Imperial castle. In 1688, the castle was overrun by French King Louis XIV's troops in the course of the Nine Years' War (known in Germany as the Pfälzischer Erbfolgekrieg, or War of the Palatine Succession), and the following year, they destroyed it. The castle complex long lay in ruins before in 1868 it was bought by the Berlin businessman Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené for 300 Goldmark and then reconstructed in the Gothic Revival style. Since 1978 it has been owned by the town of Cochem and is administered by a company named Reichsburg GmbH.

Winneburg castle ruin

The Winneburg was built in the latter half of the 13th century. It had its first documentary mention in 1304 as belonging to a one Wirich von Wunnenberg. In the centuries that followed, the castle complex was steadily expanded while all the while remaining within the ownership of the Lords of Wunnenberg (later Winneburg). After this noble family died out in 1637, the castle passed to the family Metternich. In 1689, during the Nine Years' War, the castle was besieged, taken and blown up by French troops. It was never restored, and remains in ruins to this day. It was, however, bought in 1832 by Prince von Metternich, but no reconstruction ever came about. Since 1932 it has been owned by the town of Cochem.

Saint Roch's Plague Chapel

The Pestkapelle St. Rochus, also known as the Peterskapelle seems to have had its groundwork laid in the time when Archbishop Otto von Ziegenhain waived Cochem's customary taxes and levies for ten years on the occasion of the Plague. It is described in an engraving by Braun and Hogenberg as S. Pettersberg. Standing next to a small, rectangular chapel was a hostel. It is also possible that the red sandstone keystone set above the west portal comes from this time. Despite heavy weathering, a high relief of a Madonna sitting on clouds, with Child, framed with a Zweipass, can be made out. In 1666, the Plague came once again to Cochem. This might well have been the reason why Philipp Emmerich von Winneburg and Dietrich Adolf von Metternich endowed a new building for the parish in 1680. With this new building, the Plague saint, Roch, came to the fore as the chapel's namesake. The wooden altar from 1682 shows the two men's coat of arms. A notice on the back names Michael Luter for a new setting in 1820. The central altar image is a glorification of Mary that sweeps over the representatives of the spiritual (pope, abbots, members of orders, priests) and worldly (emperors, kings, bishops) estates. Seen above her is the Holy Trinity with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and beside her are Death with the hourglass, and an angel with banners bearing doxologies and quotations from psalms. A cartouche above the central altar shows Saint "Anthony with Child". On the uppermost part of the altar, on an open gable, is Saint Peter with a key and a book. Originally, the chapel's ornamentation included images of Mary Magdalene, Saint Roch, Saint Sebastian, the holy bishop Nicholas and another statue of Roch. Saint Roch's dog was even depicted in the middle of the ceiling in a half-relief. Among the chapel's adornments was once a chandelier, which has since been stolen. It was a wall fixture in the shape of an arm dressed with a short sleeve.

Sehler Dom St. Antonius Abbas

In 1493, the parish of Cochem was granted leave to build a new chapel in Sehl on the bank of the Moselle. There had already been a chapel in Sehl, but its whereabouts are now unknown. Financing for the new chapel was made possible by Pope Alexander VI's and Archbishop of Trier Johann II of Baden's (1456–1503) indulgence privileges. Of this chapel, the quire still stands today, filled out by the west portal built in 1915. The chapel was consecrated for God's worship to the holy abbot and local resident Antonius, the holy bishop Wolfgang (depictions of whom are to be found used as keystones together with Archbishop Johann's coat of arms), the Madonna, the holy bishop Ruprecht and the holy virgin Cunen. Each Tuesday and Thursday, a Mass was to be said in the chapel by the Cochem pastor, for which the chapel would yearly receive 6 Gulden and 24 Weißpfennig in Cochem currency. For that, the hay from Sehl's meadows, bordering on the chapel, was pledged. Sehlers were "half-townsmen" of Cochem without their own municipal rights, and thus Cochem town council at first spoke out against the move to bring a bell to the so-called Sehler Dom ("Sehl Cathedral"). Nevertheless, the chapel later got one that was poured in 1441. It bears the inscription "AVE MARIA GRACIA PLENA DOMINUS TECUM MCCCCXXXXI" ("Hail Mary, full of grace – the Lord [is] with thee – 1441"). Found here today is a "Mary under the Cross" from the early 16th century, a gift from Dean Eckert to Saint Martin's.

Chapel at the Three Crosses

On an open spot between Cochem and Sehl in the traditional cadastral area known as Im Haag at some crags, the Kapelle Zu den drei Kreuzen ("Chapel at the Three Crosses") offers an impressive view into the Moselle valley. The building of the first chapel on this spot may well stem, like the Crucifixion group that stands before it, from an endowment made in 1652 in Elector of Trier Karl Casper von der Leyen's time. There is a corresponding yeardate in soft sandstone mounted in the middle of the otherwise basalt cross. Two tau crosses, today lacking the former thief figures that once hung on them, still flank the middle cross. Carved into the left one are the master's initials, P.A. In the mid 19th century, the first chapel had fallen into such disrepair that then master builder Joseph Dalmar Senior's advice was sought. The chapel's condition, however, made any renovation impossible. So, Dalmar instead put forth a plan for a new building, along with a cost estimate. It was financed through donations from the Cochem townsfolk themselves. Besides the many small ones, there was also a big one of more than ten Thaler. To raise more monies to defray the building costs for the new chapel, a raffle was held. Offered as a prize was a pair of slippers, which was won by Captain Sabel. This raffle yielded a further ten Thaler, making it possible to complete the new chapel by 1850. Dalmar planned it to be built three metres farther back into the slope. The land needed for this was donated by the family Bauer. There were further expenses, such as those for roof boards and slates. The "Throne of Mercy" (Gnadenstuhl in German) from the 16th century that was originally found here now stands in the "Old Quire" at Saint Martin's.

Saint Remaclus's Parish Church

Anyone seeing Saint Remaclus's in the outlying centre of Cond for the first time might be surprised at how recently it was built (1964–1967). The plain, clear and also mighty shape, the slate quarrystones used in its building that are so typical of local construction and the way the church fits so well among its neighbours at the foot of the steep vineyards would lead many visitors to believe that its building date must lie quite far back in history.

According to the plan conceived by master churchbuilder Emil Steffann (1899–1968), the building was meant to serve as a bridgehead and a counterpoint to the castle over on the other side of the river. The execution of this work, which was simple yet marked by great quality, stands out quite strongly within the church. Saint Remaclus's stands as an exemplary conception in modern church building. It incorporates above all openness: for the liturgical implementation after the Second Vatican Council, and for the congregation around the altar. The cross-shaped space is surrounded by whitewashed brick walls, punctuated by great round windows. Mighty circular arches expand on the cross's three upper arms from the pews to the altar position before the deep-set apse. A huge wheel-shaped chandelier spreads over the pews and the chancel.

The ornamentation has been consciously reduced to a few very valuable, restored images and figures from the old, and now demolished, parish church, and to conservatively wrought artworks by contemporary artists: foundation stone and keystone in the crypt's barrel vaulting by Jochem Pechau, the tabernacle in the crypt by Klaus Balke, the forged grille by Paul Nagel, the lead glass window in the apse by Jakob Schwarzkopf and the ambo, the eternal flame and the altar candleholder by Christoph Anders. The church is opened at all service times.

Natural monuments

At Cochem, the Cochemer Krampen, a 24-kilometre-long stretch of the Moselle made up of many winding bows beginning upstream at Bremm, comes to an end.

Above the Imperial castle is found the Lescherlinde, a limetree which, owing to its great age of more than 550 years – it can even be clearly recognized up on the mountain from Cochem railway station – holds the status of Natural Monument.

Above the outlying centre of Cond lies the Brauselay Nature Conservation Area, which has Mediterranean vegetation. Not far from Cochem, down the Moselle from the village of Klotten, is found the Dortebachtal Nature Conservation Area, a place well worth a hike for its scenery.

Economy and infrastructure

The town of Cochem is characterized by winegrowing and tourism, even if their economic importance has been waning over the past few decades. Important tourism sites are the Reichsburg Cochem (Cochem Imperial castle), the Freizeitzentrum Cochem (leisure centre) in the outlying centre of Cond, the nearby Wild- und Freizeitpark Klotten ("Klotten Wilderness and Leisure Park") and the Ediger-Eller holiday and golf resort up in the Eifel heights. A majority of the inhabitants, though, can now be found employed in other branches of the economy. There are fewer than ten full-time winegrowing businesses.


The town lies on the Koblenz–Trier line, which between Cochem and Ediger-Eller runs through the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Tunnel, which from its completion in 1877 until 1887 was Germany's longest tunnel at 4.2 km (3 mi). Calling at the station are Regionalbahn, Regional-Express and InterCity trains, along with one ICE train each morning and evening affording a morning-evening link with Berlin. Moreover, there are a few regional buslines. The town belongs to the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Mosel ("Rhine-Moselle Transport Association").

Public institutions

The town is a Bundeswehr location (TUK Cochem-Brauheck) and an administrative and educational centre. Cochem is the administrative seat of the Verbandsgemeinde of Cochem and the Cochem-Zell district. Located in Cochem are an Amt court, an employment office, a branch office of the Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Koblenz-Mosel ("Koblenz-Moselle Water and Ship Transport Office"), a health unit, the district waterworks, a police station and the water safety police station, a hospital, two seniors' residences, a home for those with mental handicaps (at Ebernach Monastery), a German Red Cross and Wasserwacht rescue station and a well equipped fire brigade.



Deutsche Lebens-Rettungs-Gesellschaft (DLRG), Cochem chapter

Famous people

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