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Gallery: Churches of Berlin
by Peter Kessler, 15 May 2011
Mitte Part 1: Churches of Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse
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.
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 (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
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.
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.
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-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 (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).
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.
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.