Set Current Location
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.
Berlin's grandest boulevard stretches east to west for just over a mile between Schlossplatz and the Brandenburg Gate. Originally conceived as a simple riding path between Berliner Schloss palace and the royal hunting ground in Tiergarten, Unter den Linden was transformed into a splendid regal boulevard by the 18th-century Prussian kings. Named after the linden trees which line its median, the road contains many of Berlin's landmark buildings like the Brandenburg Gate, Zeughaus, Kronprinzenpalast, State Opera House and Humboldt University. The Statue of Frederick the Great also sits here; one of Rauch's masterpieces, it depicts the king riding on his favorite horse, Condè, wearing his coronation robes, three-cornered hat, riding boots and holding a stick. Amazingly, the statue took nearly 70 years, 40 artists, and 100 designs to determine the final plan.
Built upon the order of Hans Georg von Ribbeck, Privy Counsellor, the Ribbeck-Haus is one of the few extant Renaissance-era structures in the city. Standing still since 1624, this building underwent several changes and renovation over the years and now houses the Zentrum für Berlin-Studien and Central and Regional Library Berlin.
Many of the city's most important buildings and historical sights are situated on the banks of the River Spree. Examples include the 13th-century Nikolaiviertel, Schloss Charlottenburg, Palast der Republik and Schloss Bellevue. Several new government buildings including the Chancellery, where German Chancellors have their office, are boarding the river in a quarter called the Spreebogen. Broad paths along the Spree make it ideal for a peaceful stroll, best of all through parks like the Tiergarten, Treptower Park or Schloss Charlottenburg's Royal Park. A boat trip is also a great way of doing a bit of sightseeing (boats depart regularly from Museum Island or from Schlosspark Charlottenburg). However, the river is at its most attractive in the Spreewald, a beautiful biosphere reserve 50 miles south-east of Berlin. It is here that the river splits into hundreds of canals and streams, surrounded by rainforest. An extremely popular day-trip destination, the Spreewald is also home to Germany's minority Sorbian community, well-known for their colorful costumes and lively festivals.
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.
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.