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An intense debate has been going on for years as to whether the Royal Palace should be reconstructed, and now it finally will be. There are plans to make a hotel out of the Palace, with shops and a business center. Built in 1451, the magnificent palace was the residence of the Prussian royal family for centuries. Badly damaged during the War, the East German administration demolished the building in the 1950s, not because the structural damage was irreparable, but because the palace was a much-maligned symbol of 'imperialism'. The space created was used for the East German equivalent of Red Square, known as Schloßplatz, which is dominated by the Palast der Republik, the closest thing the East Germans had to a parliament. The only part of the palace which survived demolition is the famous portal from which Karl Liebknecht proclaimed a Free Socialist Republic in 1918. The portal was moved a few hundred metres and integrated into the Staastsratsgebäude. Otherwise, visitors can see the foundations, recently unearthed by archaeologists, but they are a poor reminder of what once was.
Everybody in Berlin agreed that this building was an eyesore. Apart from looking awful, it was an asbestos hazard and stood empty until the city council finally decided to demolish it. The process is still going on but the future of the building is uncertain. Some want to rebuild the Berliner Schloß, the magnificent royal palace which was pulled down to make place for the present monstrosity. Others want to preserve it as a memorial to the former "Democratic Republic" of East Germany. Built in 1976 to house the Volkskammer, the East German parliament which did little more than rubber stamp decisions made by the Politburo, the Palast der Republik also contained exclusive restaurants, bars and clubs for party apparatchiks.
A small, triangular space in the heart of the city, Schinkelplatz was established in 1837. Named after the Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who designed this square, the was heavily damaged during the Second World War. It was later restored to its original style after renovations were carried out here. Today, it is an important square in the city and is frequented by cyclists and locals.
Museum Island is located on the northern half of a historically-significant island in the Spree River that runs through Berlin. The island takes its name from the five Berlin State Museums that reside in the area - the Altes Museum, the Bode Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Neues Museum, and the Pergamon Museum. Museum Island was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010. The island's first museum was erected in 1797, and the whole area was designated specifically for art and science by King Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1841.
Located between the Schlossplatz and the famous avenue Unter den Linden, Schlossbrücke was designed in 1821 by the architect K. F. Schinkel. A creation of Schinkel, this bridge was inaugurated on November 28th, 1823. The beatific sculptures, lined along this bridge clearly depict the development of a hero from early youth over manhood up to death on the battlefield as well as his translation to Olympus. After their destruction in the Second World War, the figures were restored again in 1983. Now Schinkels' masterpiece shows up in its whole beauty and is again a popular subject for photos as formerly. While Schlossbrücke itself is certainly attractive, it is the artwork that accompanies the bridge that receives the most attention.
Situated on the banks of the River Spree, the Lustgarten, which literally translates to 'pleasure garden', at Museumsinsel was created in 1573 as a garden for the Hohenzollern royal family (the former Royal Palace was situated close by). In the 18th Century, Friedrich Wilhelm I turned it into a military parade ground. 60 years ago, what remained of the garden was uprooted to provide space for Nazi parades and rallies. The historic garden was re-landscaped in 2000 according to original plans and is once again full of lawns, fountains and bushes. It is a wonderful spot for a stroll or picnic on a sunny afternoon.
The Zeughaus began life as a military arsenal and an impressive arsenal it is too. More like a palace than an arms depot, the magnificent baroque building, located opposite the former Royal Palace on the banks of the River Spree, has been recently restored and now exudes all of its former splendor. Built around 1700, the palatial Zeughaus is one of the oldest buildings on Unter den Linden and is therefore the perfect location for the National History Museum which it now houses.