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Although plans are afoot to radically redesign Alexanderplatz, the square is still dominated by socialist buildings whose architectural beauty still attracts attention. One of these, Haus des Lehrers, is marked by an impressive 125 metre long mural which wraps its way around the building. Painted by Walter Womancka, this colorful depiction of "the perfect socialist life" is a classic example of the kind of art once promoted by East German authorities for propaganda purposes. Erected in 1964, the building represented a break with the monumental architecture of the Stalin era and a move towards a more cosmopolitan and transparent style. Originally built as a congress center for teachers, the building is now used for exhibitions and cultural events.
Located in Alexanderplatz in the heart of eastern Berlin, this 1960s structure towers over the whole city. Built by communist authorities at the height of the Cold War, West Berliners cheekily christened the TV Tower "the Pope's revenge" because of the sparkling cross which appears on the pinnacle of the tower when the sun shines on it. Although regarded by many as an eyesore, the views from the top are hard to beat. The revolving restaurant situated 207 meters (680 feet) up the tower is a pleasant spot to stop for a coffee or meal and a relaxing gaze over the city.
Built between 1896 and 1905, Stadtgericht boasts extravagant stairs which are its best features; and elegant columns. It is partially exposed by urban redevelopment. Much of the building is undergoing restoration. This building, consisting of five floors, is the second largest after Berlin building of the castle. The four complexes once stretched over a length of 220 meters (721.79 feet) parallel to the S-Bahn route.
While plans are afoot to reconstruct the ruin of Schinkel's classic Elisabethkirche on Invalidenstraße, the Franciscan Monastery Church near Alexanderplatz will not be rebuilt. It remains, instead, in its present state as a memorial to the senselessness of war. Originally constructed in 1260, the church used to be Berlin's most impressive Gothic building before being bombed to pieces during the Second World War. The stunning red brick arches and columns have no roof, no knave, no tower, no spire. They stand alone on a deserted plot of land which is currently used for open-air art exhibitions and theatrical performances.
The ancient St. Mary's Church, built of rough stone and crowned by a copper green steeple, was first mentioned in chronicles from the year 1294. As such, it contrasts starkly with its surroundings, a series of spartan socialist monoliths towered over by the futuristic TV Tower. It reminds us that Berlin is in fact an ancient city, although little has survived successive centuries of turmoil. The inside of the church is as plain as the socialist urban landscape outside, a place where Medieval Protestantism meets twentieth century agnosticism.
Built during the 17th Century, the Parochialkirche is a reformed church which is one of the oldest protestant organizations in the city. The famous bell tower of the church was completely destroyed during World War II. The interior of the church was also heavily damaged. Used in the intermediate years as a warehouse for furniture, the church was restored in 1991 and was gradually returned to its former Baroque grandeur.
Strolling through the windswept square between the TV Tower, the Town Hall and the Palast der Republik, you may unexpectedly stumble across an exquisite baroque fountain known as the Neptunbrunnen (Neptune Fountain). Built a hundred years ago and severely damaged during the War, it was removed from its original site close to the former Royal Palace, thoroughly restored and then re-erected at Alexanderplatz. Surrounded by faceless socialist architecture, the intricate fountain seems slightly out of place here, yet this simply adds to its fascination.