Significance and Exterior Views

“The Palace did not lie in Berlin – Berlin was the Palace”

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Paris had already been in existence over 1,500 years before the Bourbons built the Tuileries Palace and the Louvre. The city is identified with much more than its central palace and surroundings. In 2000 year old London, the present day governmental quarter and Buckingham Palace arose about 150 years ago. It was in the 19th century that the monarchy transferred its ancient seat from the Tower of London to this area.

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Berlin city center, 1937, photographed from the Victory Column on the Great Star circle. The Palace dominated the center of the city. It stretches from the left side of the picture to the right below the tower of the Statehouse with its southwest corner in the center and onward with the Pharmacy wing almost to the Cathedral. Because it was 10 meters higher than its surroundings, it towered above the houses on Unter den Linden

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The old center of Berlin: Palace, cathedral, museum and arsenal as symbols of state authority, religion, culture and valor are grouped around the Pleasure Garden plaza.

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And Richard Hamann, the Professor of the Art History Institute of Berlin’s Humboldt Univeristy, emphasized:

“Berlin is poor in monuments of the past, but it possesses a work that is worthy to rank with the greatest ones of the past and is mentioned and pictured in all art histories of the world: The Berlin Palace.”

Berlin Palace: Spree river façade before the construction of the ship dock, about 1875. “Its creator was the greatest sculptor and architect in northern Germany, Andreas Schlüter. There it stands with a fascinating power and monumentality, an example of the unique north German baroque, worthy to stand along side of Michelangelo’s St. Peters in Rome and the Louvre in Paris. It dominated the center of Berlin, the square which it helped to form and the streets which led to it. It is the very essence of old Berlin for those who would like to see Berlin’s past reembodied.”

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Almost 250 years later Prussia was extinct and the Palace had been severely damaged. Regarding its imminent demolition, Pro. Dr. Ernst Gall, General Director of the Prussian and Bavarian Palace Authority, stated in 1950: “If the Berlin Palace is destroyed, one will have lost one of the most creative architectural works of art which, after so many losses, the world can still call its own these days. From the period around the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, there is little in Europe that can surpass this edifice in its power and in the vivid sculptural clarity of its façade treatments.”

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Johannes Stroux, the President of the Academy of science in Berlin expanded:

“A powerful seriousness is expressed by the city side of the Palace, while a relaxed solemnity and open gracefulness reigns over the garden side. After Eosander’s expansion, the Palace turned its front toward the west instead of as previously toward the south: together with the former arsenal and the opera Unter den Linden, the Palace constituted a monumental city core possessed be only a few other cities.”

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The Berliners poked fun at it calling it “the advancing step backward and the halted step forward.”

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Almost 250 years later Prussia was extinct and the Palace had been severely damaged. Regarding its imminent demolition, Pro. Dr. Ernst Gall, General Director of the Prussian and Bavarian Palace Authority, stated in 1950:

“If the Berlin Palace is destroyed, one will have lost one of the most creative architectural works of art which, after so many losses, the world can still call its own these days. From the period around the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, there is little in Europe that can surpass this edifice in its power and in the vivid sculptural clarity of its façade treatments.”

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Berlin Palace: Schlüter courtyard from the east. The facades of the transverse wing were remodeled under Kaiser Wilhelm I in neorenaissance style. Schlüter wanted originally to change them to be a mirror image of his East Portico. His firing after the mint tower catastrophe (see “Architectural History”) prevented this

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