Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »

Koblenz, Germany

Schängelbrunnen

This fountain of a little boy that spits on passersby at erratic intervals is a town icon. 

The small picturesque town of Koblenz is one of the oldest towns in Germany—though for a couple of decades it was actually a part of France, a nationality interruption that left a lasting legacy on the local landscape.

During the French period between 1794 and 1814, and continuing afterward, a large number of children who were born to French and German parents were named Jean. The popular name later morphed into the Schang per the local dialect, and then into Schängel, which became a moniker for the residents of the region.

The most famous Schängel is a statue of a little prankster that periodically spits on unsuspecting tourists from his fountain perch on Willi-Hörter-Platz. The base of the fountain, built in 1941, contains bas reliefs of young boys engaged in other mischief, such as smoking, fighting, and mocking their elders. An inscription identifies the mischievous Schängel as the symbol of the town, and he graces manhole covers all across the town.

Know Before You Go

In the center of old Koblenz, between the Rhine and Moselle rivers.