Wall was built up, and continues
being up in the minds of many people. It is part of their history, and the
development of Berlin is very much marked by this wall. This wall or the remains
of it, shows up today like a screen-exhibition for artists, it is the "Gallery
of the East side" created after the fall of the Communist Regime and where
regrettably nowadays the paintings are in clear deterioration.
historical city, divided into east and west by the wall and today still
continues practically with this same division, keeping big buildings like those
left in inheritance by Schinkel. Examples of clasicism do not lack, one of them
is the Schauspielhaus Theatre, built
by Schinkel between 1918 and 1921. The building was built in the place where
previously had existed a theatre before its burning, built by Langhans. Schinkel
designed it maintaining the old external wall and the arcade with columns (demanded
by the king) and an inner space was also built added to the previous one used as
concert hall. The result was brillant, a staircase to get to the Ionic arcade at
the entrance, with statues and crowned in their central part with sculptures,
creating a majestic facade, being the central element of the square. Inside, we
find in the north, the functional rooms; in the south the Auditory (redesigned
in 1904 in Baroque style) and in the middle: the Theatre, for 1200 spectators.
After the war it was faithfully reconstructed but the inside was re-drawn
placing an only auditory for 1850 spectators, The "Konzerthaus Berlin".
building is in the same square flanked by the French Church (by Louis Cayart) in
the north, and the German church (by Martin Grünberg) in the south. Both of
them have already existed since 1701. The domes, similar in both buildings, were
built among 1780 and 1785, ordered by Friedrich the Great perhaps following as
example the square of Popolo in Rome.
channels exist in Berlin, crossing the city. At a point, the river Spree, forms
the so called ‘Island of the Museums’, a place created for the Art and
Science. There it is the Altes Museum by
Schinkel (1825-30), in the north side of a wide garden. It has a rectangular
form containing two interior patios and a central rotunda with double height
that rises over the rest of the building. The south facade facing onto the
garden, is covered all along with an arcade of Ionic columns, and behind, a wall
opens up only in its central part (occupying the space among six columns) giving
way to the hall where two imposing staircases oppose each other to get to the
present in the island of the museums is the Neues Museum (first museum-building
designed explicitly for exhibitions, especially Egyptian collections and soon
under reconstruction by David Chipperfield), behind the Altes Museum, and the Alte
Nationalgalerie by August Stüler and Heinrich Strack (1866-76).
The Alte Nationalgalerie has the shape of an old temple in Corinthian style with
a high base and double staircase to come in, so that it is easily viewed from
many points of the city. Behind the eight columns of the arcade at the entrance:
a wall with paintings representing the history of the development of German Art;
and on one side, among the half columns embedded to the wall: exhibition boards
with the names of German artists.
The last building in the island of the museums is
the Pergamon Museum, built between 1912 and
1930 by Ludwig Hoffmann under a project of Alfred Messel ( he died before
starting construction), to house the many collections of antique works. Hoffmann
adapted the heavy Baroque style of the building projected by Messel to classic
shapes, forming a transition to the architecture of the Neues Museum and Altes
is the Berlin of the Museums (in the East), and near this island of the culture
is the street market (a bazaar of second hand books, cloths, sheets, ...) It is
the Berlin that reminds us the order, the organization in a city with long
avenues and large green areas, and patios with gardens ... signs of quality.
the Altes Museum, The Berlin Cathedral,
with a history that goes back to almost the Middle ages. At the beginning a
small chapel, then a church, and later on, after many projects, it was built
under a design by Julius Raschdorff (1894-1905). Under suggestion from Emperor
Wilhelm II it reduced its shape and it was strongly criticized ( style, liturgy
and acoustics). The dimensions of the Church are 114x73 metres. Originally the
dome (75 meters heigh) and the four towers of corner had an elaborated
decoration, buy it was strongly damaged in 1944. One can consider both the
Cathedral and the Reichstag like the main works of the Baroque in Wilhelm time (although
the Cathedral is neo-Renaissance in its shape), mainly due to its size and shape.
The Reichstag, the
powerful symbol of the German 20th century, built by Paul Wallot
(1884-94) after surviving the war, was covered, and restored. Its interior was
re-designed to adapt it to congresses and the German parliament’s new uses (two
interior patios and in the center: the meeting room) and a new debate grew the
attention on the dome. Decision: A new dome under a design of Norman Foster
(1994-99), accessible to the public, with a restaurant on the base and a terrace
at level of the cover of the building. At the same time it will give natural
light and ventilation to the devate room beneath. The building has two squared
towers on its corners and a central arcade of columns with staircase and covered
with a triangular fronton facing onto the Tiergarden.
facing onto the tiergarden, but from another perspective, is the Brandenburg
Gate, the most known symbol of the cold war that has remained, due to
the war and the Wall, as an isolated monument. Designed by Carl Gotthard
Langhans (1789-1791) it reminds the Athenian Propileos. The Gate has five
openings of 11 m. separated by walls ending in doric columns. On top, a quadriga
crowns with the goddess Victoria (symbol of peace and cultural abundance).
Originally, around the Gate, the Pariser Platz had prestigious buildings, being
a strategic point in the city, placed at the end of the long avenue: Unter den
Linden. After the reunification, and after many debates about the square (whether
it should be reconstructed as originally with the traffic passing through the
Brandenburg Gate, or it should be constructed a roundabout and the traffic would
circulate around it as in the Arch of Victory in Paris). Finally, it was decided
to keep the original lines of the square and the buildings inside, with few
exceptions although the styles in the buildings could be changed.
the Gate, the Tiergarden, a green and inmense
area with trees, zoo, leisure areas, and without forgeting the paths for
pedestrians and ways for bicycles. Berlin is a city of services, highly modern
and developing according to the European philosophies of being sensible to the
enviroment. It has developed along the whole city and parallelly to the
sidewalks, their ways for bicycles, including traffic lights and signs, so that
it is possible to arrive to any point of the city by means of this non poluting
transport. It is a true pleasure and not expensive, (5,23 €/day) enjoying this
city with its apples of stone or iron and glass; green areas; its bohemian
atmospheres, modernist, clasic... and its urban types and "squatter"
artists with their premises.
have areas to enjoy the traditional German atmosphere as the Nikolai
Quarter. This is the medieval center in Berlin, and it is probably the
jewel of the city, where we can find the the "Bear" of Berlin. During
the 750 anniversary of the city (1987), it was determined to reconstruct this
part of the city, keeping its historical meaning, so that it served as a
reference to the original state and the tradition of Berlin. The Nikolaikirche
Church, patron saint of the Merchants was restored the most faithfully way
possible. It is the first and most important parish church in Berlin, and around
it copies of old buildings were built up, including old pubs of Berlin, shops
and typical German restaurants. The achieved results are right and contrast with
the rest of the city. It is worthy visiting.
also have other bohemian areas, as the atmosphere created in the premises built
under the rails of the train (that cross over the city), some are charming,
bohemian; others, modern and elegant. And another areas to escape from daily
stress, as the Orainburguer
Strasse, with premises with atmosphere, restaurants by the light of the
candles, gay or Jewish atmosphere, everything seen with the eyes of a tourist
that is sorrounded by a magic halo. The historical train stations with Art Decó,
coloring in the facades, designer shops, channels, gardens, the Jewish quarter,
traces of "squatters"... everything contributes to add charm to the
A city that does not separate itself from the
past. On the other side, in the middle of the so called west, the Ku`dam,
remains of the slaughter, of the bombing. Its center keeps the ruins of a church
half destroyed (one can still hear the planes flying over Berlin). And there, on
one side, the group chapel-tower, built for a religious function, now displaced.
Its style is totally opposed and highly criticized, taking into account a total
demolition of the church.
Other buildings in the present Berlin are:
City Hall, named after its facade of red bricks, was built by
Hermann Friedrich Waesemann between 1861 and 1869. With neo-Renaissance elements,
three interior patios and a great central tower (that reminds of the Cathedrals
in Laon and Naumburg for its treatment with columns in its corners), it leaves
the classicism style post-Schinkel and sets up a different style in architecture
with appearance of strengh. The building is crowned with a balustrade and its
facade contains drawings of terra cotta about the history of Berlin. At the
moment, it is used by the Senate of Berlin.
example of the Baroque in the city is the Charlottenburg
Palace, built between 1695 and 1699 by Johann Arnold Nering and Martin
Grünberg, and enlarged in different phases. It shows a huge facade facing onto
the garden and the interior design of the lateral wings is, no doubt, in Rococo
style. The main building (strongly damaged during the Second World War, now
rebuilt) is used as Museum. The complex is made up of other smaller buildings
estrategically placed along the garden such as Belvedere (the tea house , at the
moment, Museum of Porcelain) and the Schinkel Summerhouse. In the complex there
is also a Theatre, built in 1787-91 by Carl Gotthard Langhans.
Bridge, built in 1896 of brick, shows an elegant solution for a modern
means of transport at that time (train) and also a road for cars. It symbolizes
the East way in towards the historical center of Berlin. It "has suffered"
from different changes throughout its life, the last one in 1996 by Santiago
Calatrava, linking the former structure by means of a central arch of steel.
modern city, with the new works and the new image of Berlin in the 21st century,
includes works like the Jewish Museum by
architect Daniel Libeskind, a building that sums up the history of the jewish
community in Berlin. An alive document, an interpretation building with some
|- The impossibility of
understanding the history of the city without knowing the great
intelectual, economic and cultural contribution of the jews.
- The need to incorporate the meaning of the Holocaust, psychicly and
spiritually, into the memory of Berlin.
- The history of Berlin, even of Europe, is understood along with the lack
of jewish life in Berlin.
The museum comprises three main parts, each one
with its meaning: the Holocaust; the exterior garden: the exile; and the
emigration (with sloping floor, the author achieves to cause a desorientation
for a moment). It is linked, only underground, to the Museum of Berlin. The
walls of reinforced concrete, with their elongated windows and the faint lights,
contribute to the staging of the atmospheres required by the architect.
became the most important commercial and traffic center in the east area in
Berlin in 1882, when the S-bahn train station was built, area also improved
thanks to placing there the main market in 1886 and the station underground in
1913. Behrens is awarded in a contest with part of the buildings in a square
with great influence on the large amount of people that passes by (shops,
restaurants, offices,...). Damaged during the war, the square from 1960 on, took
back its shape, but it would lose character as it was excessively increased.
Buildings were built around in different phases, such as Hotel Forum, 123 meter
high. In 1969 the clock of the world was built, main meeting point. A contest
took place to demolish a great part of the buildings and to build 13 towers (Hans
Kollhoff). In spite of the uncertainty about its carrying out, one can state
that this is the most monumental urban interior square in Germany.
The Telecommunication Tower (1965-69) is a
landmark in the city and can be seen from any part in Berlin. The right place to
go up to admire and watch the city for a moment, just the time to take the
decision on the next place to visit. It is said that the height of 365 meter was
chosen to match the number with the days in a year so that children could easily
remember it. It is the second highest tower in Europe behind the one in Moscow.
The tower is made of concrete up to 250 meter high and crowned by a great sphere
of seven floors covered by 140 segments of stainless steel that produce
reflections of light with the solar rays.
the middle of this development, we find the "Postdamer Platz" playing
a main role. In its golden time, back to 1920, meant the heart of the city
Berlin. Devastated during the war, Berlin is divided and two important places
come up: Alexanderplatz in the East; and Ku’damm in the West. After the fall
of the Wall the square will recover its outstanding role.
By means of a contest of ideas and big sales
representatives (Sony, A+T and Mercedes-Benz
bought most of the lots) the area is again coming alive. The architects
Helmut Jahn, Giorgio Grassi and Renzo Piano, among others, are in charge of the
works. A new underground station is built linked to the already existing train
stations, even a fabrik of concrete is built to supply the demand in these lots
in the Postdamer Platz.
campaigns of great span were carried out, and the Info-box in Leipziger Platz
was built. It is a large red containter, 1000m² exhibition area, that informs
about the works and buildings under construction in Postdamer Platz. Although
this building was designed to be easily dissambled, and moved once its aim was
fulfilled, now it is being considered the possibility of leaving it there as a
multifunctional building or even as a work of art.
Most of the buildings in Postdamer Platz are
offices, although cinemas, restaurants, shops and residential buildings have
also been built to avoid the possible desert-like appearance after 6pm due to
the lack of people around.
The proyect by Sony may be the most outstanding
one for being a large exterior elliptic space covered by a great dome of
fiberglass. The buildings housing leisure activities, work and homes stand up
Many buildings are part of this new Berlin of the
21st century, such as the Fhilharmonc by Hans
Scharoun (1960-1963). Its shapes come along in a dinamic way and is covered by
yellow aluminium panels (enlarged in 1980).
designing the Neue
Nationalgalerie, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1965-68), subordinated the
purpose to the form (because the use may change, but the buildings must last
many years). The architect, after his motto: "less is more", uses
simple shapes, clear steel structures, great glass panels and a neutral use.
Structure or engineering considerations are adapted to his artistic intentions,
that is, eight steel supports, whose parts remind the classic columns: the
capitals are now the joining point with the cover (a great prefabricated cover
of considerable tonnage in squares 3,60 m and 65 m long). Other elements in this
building are the hall: 8,5 m high, interior free from columns, the terrace.
Underneath are placed another part of the Museum and the stores. All of them
showing a clear and neat architecture.
Palace of the Republic is a building
surrounded by politic controversies. It was built between 1973 and 1976 on the
lot, where the former Palace stood. It was demolished after the war for
ideological reasons. It is a pure functional building with an structural
framework of steel covered with white marble and mirror-glass supported by
aluminiumwork. The controversy was not caused by the architecture, but by the
symbolic content of the building: symbol of the GDR, headquarter of the
communist party and meeting point of the first Government in East-Germany chosen
democratically in 1990.
new urban plan in Berlin provokes temptations to recreate the past, coming down
most of them, building blocks with patios quite worthy. The coexistence among
the former buildings and the modern ones is a reality in Berlin and beyond
surprising, its dinamism, variety in its facades and its colours dazzle. The
international contest IBA, mainly the one in 1979,
helping to develop experimental residence centers in the 80s, helped to carry on
that development in the plan of a renewed Berlin with relatively small projects.
That meant the beginning of the Post-modernism in Berlin with buildings that try
to innnovate. Sometimes they get the right decision, but more than once they are
criticized. We mean already know architectures internationally such as Siza,
Taut, Rob Krier, Aldo Rossi, Peter Eisenman, Giorgio Grassi, Hans Hollein, ...
must not leave apart the large office blocks or the shopping centres, big areas
that take up one or more blocks. They are linked with underground passages,
interior patios and galeries with shops and restaurants, an important finantial
investment. The most known one is Lafayettes Galerie by Jean Nouvel, part of the Friedrichstadt-Passage.
An entrance from the street towards a hall has a conic glass dome that comes up
to the ceiling-deck, lighting up with natural light, and comes down simetrically
of glass, connecting this way all the floors in the building. In West-Berlin we
may also find shopping-centre like buildings such as Ka De We among others.
Slowly also the west is taking space for large buildings.
Being a tipical european capital and having such commodities, Berlin must be
visited to enjoy the many different atmospheres living in Berlin, a city of the