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Modern Germany

Gallery: Churches of Berlin

by Peter Kessler, 15 May 2011

 

 

Mitte Part 1: Churches of Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse to Klosterstrasse

Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom in German) stands at the north-west corner of Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse and Am Lustgarten with the River Spree behind it in the centre of Berlin. Its more formal name is the Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church (Evangelical Oberpfarr- und Domkirche). The cathedral's history began in 1451, when Prince-Elector Frederick II of Brandenburg moved into the newly erected Berlin Castle, which also housed the Chapel of Erasmus of Formiae.

Berlin Cathedral

The chapel became collegiate in 1465 and soon gained its Domkirche (cathedral church) name. The old building was demolished in 1893 after its interior was cleared. The present cathedral building was completed in 1905, the work handled by father and son architects, Julius and Otto Raschdorff. Considered a Protestant counterweight to St Peter's Basilica in Rome, it was badly damaged during Allied bombing raids in 1944. Repairs were not fully completed until 1993.

Friedrichswerder Church

Friedrichswerder Church (Friedrichwerdersche-Kirche) is at the north-west corner of Werderscher Markt and Niederlagstrasse, overlooking the River Spree. It was the first neo-Gothic church built in Berlin, to a design by architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and was completed between 1824-1831. The building was damaged in 1944 and restoration took between 1979-1986. It now holds the Alte Nationalgalerie's collection of nineteenth-century German sculpture.

Cathedral Parish of St Hedwig

The (Catholic) Cathedral Parish of St Hedwig (St-Hedwig-Kathedrale) is on the south-east corner of Bebelplatz and Hedwigskirchgasse. Dedicated to the patron of Silesia and Brandenburg, it was the first post-Reformation Catholic church built in Prussia, with construction taking place in 1747-1773. In 1930 the church became a cathedral and is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Berlin. Badly damaged during the war, reconstruction took place between 1952 to 1963.

French Cathedral

The French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) is on the northern side of the Deutscher Dom (below), between Jägerstrasse and Französische Strasse. Formally known as the French Church of Friedrichstadt, the first parts were built by Huguenots (Calvinists) in 1701-1705, modelled on a destroyed Hueguenot temple in France. It was modified in 1785, with the domed tower being added by Carl von Gontard, although this is not strictly part of the church itself, unlike its neighbour.

German Cathedral

The German Cathedral (Deutscher Dom) faces the Französischer Dom on its southern side, between Gendarmenmarkt and Mohrenstrasse. Officially named the New Church (Neue Kirche), it is formed of both parts of the building (unlike its opposite number). The first building was erected by Giovanni Simonetti in 1701-1708, initially for Calvanists, but in 1708 for Lutherans too. It was modified in 1780-1785 by Georg Christian Unger. A new prayer hall was opened in 1882.

Bethlehem Church

Bethlehem Church (Bethlehem-Kirche) formally stood at the south-east corner of Mauerstrasse and Krausenstrasse. Also known as the Bohemian Church, it was built for Bohemian Protestant refugees in 1737 as a round church of 15.70 metres in diameter and 36.40 metres in height. Two bells were cast at the expense of the royal family. The church was entirely destroyed in 1943. The floor plan is remembered in the mosaic design which stands on the site.

St Nicholas' Church

St Nicholas' Church (Nikolai Kirche) is hemmed in at Nikolaikirchplatz, just north of Molkenmarkt on the east bank of the River Spree. The oldest church in Berlin, it was built between 1220 and 1230. Originally Roman Catholic, it became Lutheran after the Protestant Reformation in 1539. Due to a dwindling central Berlin congregation, it held its last service on Reformation Day, 31 October 1938, and since then has been retained as a museum (part of then Märkisches Museum).

Parish Church of St Peter & St Mary Kirche

The Parish Church of St Peter & St Mary Kirche (St Petri-St Marien Parochial-kirche) is at the south-east corner of Klosterstrasse and Parochialstrasse. Also known as the Parochial Church, it was one of the first churches built in Berlin after the Reformation, the foundation stone being laid on 15 August 1695. It was famous for its distinctive tower and a ring of 37 bells, but much of this was destroyed by bombing in May 1944. Some summer services are still held inside.

Franciscan Monastery Church

The Franciscan Monastery Church (Franziskaner-Klosterkirche) is at the south-east corner of Grunerstrasse and Klosterstrasse. The church was founded in 1250 by the priory monks. Built in stone, the building was fifty-two metres long and sixteen metres wide. In 1536, following the Protestant Reformation, it was appropriated for use as Berlin's first Berliner Dom (see above), and was restored in 1583. It remained a church, but was destroyed by bombing on 3 April 1945.

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