Berlin seeks to restore glory of past
The Berlin City Palace, home to Prussian kings and German emperors, served not just as the residence of imperial leaders for centuries but was the city’s most cherished landmark.
It’s difficult to overstate the majesty of the Berliner Stadtschloss, a brilliant example of Baroque architecture with approximately 12,000 rooms and 250,000 square feet of floor space.
For five centuries the palace was not only a central part of Berlin’s identity, but also served as the focal point of its architecture, with the city center’s ensemble of historical building and main avenues growing up around the palace for more than 500 years, according to the Epoch Times.
Though heavily damaged in World War II, the palace’s structure remained intact. In 1950, the East German communist regime pulled it down to both make space for a grand square for military parades in the heart of Berlin and to rid the city of the reminder of Prussian militarism.
East German Communist Party chief Walter Ulbricht ignored all protests, even from within the party, to save the palace. Due to the thickness of the walls, up to 10 feet in places, the demolition process took 10 months, according to the Times.
Now, more than 60 years later, the Berlin City Palace is being rebuilt entirely from scratch, in a massive, ambitious project expected to cost upwards of $1 billion.
The palace was originally opened in 1443 and rebuilt in baroque style in 1716, according to the BBC.
For his coronation in 1701, Prussian King Frederick I ordered the site’s expansion, as a way to elevate him above other nobles.
Frederick’s famous court sculptor and architect Andreas Schlüter based the facades on Italian baroque style.
The plan for the interior rooms and the north end will be modern, but a massive dome, three sides of the palace, and the courtyard, will be reconstructed as close to the original as possible, according to the Times.
Work is already underway on fashioning material for the massive structure.
About 10 miles northwest of the palace site, stonemasons are crafting some 2,800 pieces of facade by hand, as it was done 300 years ago, according to the publication.
No original blueprints exist and building files were lost in World War II, so sculptors mainly work from photographs in order to first make models made out of clay.
“Many of the pieces are unique, which takes an extra effort. For example, there are 43 eagle sculptures that sit prominently on top of the balustrade, each with its own individual expressions, gesture, and plumage,” according to the Times.
(Above: The Berlin City Palace around 1900. Photo credit: Wikipedia.)