Episode 05: Berlin Cathedral

IMG_3721 Location:

Am Lustgarten, 10178 Berlin

Facts:

  • Completed in 1905
  • Biggest church in Berlin

Even when it comes to historic monuments – location is the key. And what could be a more attractive location than the Lustgarten (Garden of Lust), surrounded by the river Spree, sharing grounds with the Museum Island? The Berlin Cathedral is fortunate enough to call this perfect place her home for centuries. Well, that’s actually not completely accurate as the building in the design as we know it today was only finished in 1905, but the forerunners of today’s cathedral have been around since the 15th century!

Not to bore you with numbers and dates, but just to give you a brief impression of the past of the Berlin cathedral and its different versions: It all started in the 15th century when the St. Erasmus Chapel was built on the island in the Spree. The chapel belonged to the Berlin Castle, the Stadtschloss, which is currently being reconstructed from scratch in Berlin’s historic center. In the 16th century, and with the Reformation, the church waved goodbye to Catholicism. Two centuries later, the meanwhile run-down building was replaced by a newly constructed baroque church, which got a classicist style makeover in the 19th century. But also this version of the cathedral was not meant for eternity. In the end of the 19th century, a competition for a new cathedral building was arranged – and taadaaa – here we are: the winning design was the cathedral in its current state. At least more or less, since it suffered quite heavy damages during the Second World War and yet again had to be partially rebuilt.

For Berlin’s cityscape, the greenish dome of the cathedral is quite prominent, and of course it is beautiful to look at from the outside and inside. Did you know that you can climb the dome? It takes you 270 steps – but you will be rewarded with a breathtaking view over Mitte. The idea of domes in architecture is actually quite cool, you know. They are supposed to imitate the sky. This effect obviously only works if you are inside the building. For sure you all have stood under a huge dome and know how majestic this view feels. Originally, domes were decorating spiritual buildings and, in fact, all major religions have added domes to their houses of prayer to resemble heaven and eternity. Later on, domes started to become popular for all sorts other buildings, for example, government buildings such as the Capitol or the German Bundestag. No matter if ancient, super modern, or somewhere in-between domes are really interesting pieces of architecture and define some of the world’s most special buildings like the Taj Mahal, the Pantheon, Hagia Sophia or many many more.

To find out more about the Berlin Cathedral during the GDR regime and the cathedral’s surprising basement, listen to our talk below:

Photo and episode: Ute Linden

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