My first time in Berlin dates from May 2015. Until September 2021 it was my only time. I know it’s odd. The capital of Germany is a centre of history, culture, clubbing, gay culture. It should have been a standard annual getaway. Berlin is a modern, quirky city with a reputation for being hip and trendy. I took time to look back on this first visit – with Frank – in 2015.
Berlin has many iconic buildings. Today I’m talking about tree of them.
The Reichstag (Reichstagsgebäude), officially the Deutscher Bundestag – Plenarbereich Reichstagsgebäude, is a historic edifice constructed to house the Imperial Diet (German: Reichstag) of the German Empire.
It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged after being set on fire.
After World War II, the building fell into disuse; the parliament of the German Democratic Republic, the Volkskammer, met in the Palast der Republik in East Berlin, while the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Bundestag, met in the Bundeshaus in Bonn.
The ruined building was made safe against the elements and partially refurbished in the 1960s, but no attempt at full restoration was made until after German reunification on 3 October 1990, when it underwent a reconstruction led by architect Norman Foster. After its completion in 1999, it once again became the meeting place of the German parliament: the modern Bundestag.
The term Reichstag, when used to connote a diet, dates back to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The building was built for the Diet of the German Empire, which was succeeded by the Reichstag of the Weimar Republic.
The latter would become the Reichstag of Nazi Germany, which left the building (and ceased to act as a parliament) after the 1933 fire and never returned, using the Kroll Opera House instead.
The term Reichstag has not been used by German parliaments since World War II. In today’s usage, the word Reichstag (Imperial Diet) refers mainly to the building, while Bundestag (Federal Diet) refers to the institution.
In 1916 the iconic words “Dem Deutschen Volke” (“To the German People”) were placed above the main façade of the building, much to the displeasure of Wilhelm II, who had tried to block the adding of the inscription for its democratic significance.
After World War I had ended and Wilhelm had abdicated, during the revolutionary days of 1918, Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the institution of a republic from one of the balconies of the Reichstag building on 9 November. The building continued to be the seat of the parliament of the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), which was still called the Reichstag.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche) is a Protestant church affiliated with the Evangelical Church in Berlin, Brandenburg and Silesian Upper Lusatia, a regional body of the Evangelical Church in Germany. It is located in Berlin on the Kurfürstendamm in the centre of the Breitscheidplatz.
The original church on the site was built in the 1890s. The construction of the church was part of a Protestant church-building programme initiated by Wilhelm II and his consort Augusta Victoria to counter the German labour movement and socialist movement by a return to traditional religious values. Wilhelm II decided to name the church in honor of his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm I.
It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building, which consists of a church with an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel, was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall.
The Memorial Church today is a famous landmark of western Berlin, and is nicknamed by Berliners “der hohle Zahn“, meaning “the hollow tooth”.
The Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom), also known as, the Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church, is a monumental German Evangelical church and dynastic tomb of the House of Hohenzollern on the Museum Island in central Berlin.
Having its origins as a castle chapel for the Berlin Palace, several structures have served to house the church since the 1400’s.
The present collegiate church was built from 1894 to 1905 by order of Wilhelm II according to plans by Julius Raschdorff in Renaissance and Baroque Revival styles. The listed building is the largest Protestant church in Germany and one of the most important dynastic tombs in Europe.
In addition to church services, the cathedral is used for state ceremonies, concerts and other events.
Since the demolition of the Memorial Church (Denkmalskirche) section on the north side by the East German authorities in 1975, the Berlin Cathedral has consisted of the large Sermon Church (Predigtkirche) in the center, and the smaller Baptismal and Matrimonial Church (Tauf- und Traukirche) on the south side and the Hohenzollern crypt (Hohenzollerngruft), which covers almost the entire basement.
Damaged during the Allied bombing in World War II, the cathedral’s original interior was restored by 2002.