Charlottenburg Palace Germany, Berlin

Schloss Charlottenburg

The palace in Charlottenburg was intended as a summer home for Sophie Charlotte, Elector Friedrich III’s wife. Construction began in 1695 to a design by Johann Arnold Nering. Between 1701 and 1713 Johann Friedrich Eosander enlarged the palace, crowning it with a cupola and adding the orangery wing. Subsequent extensions were undertaken by Frederick the Great (Friedrich II), who added the Neuer Flügel, designed by Georg Wen zeslaus von Knobelsdorff, between 1740 and 1746. Restored to its former elegance following World War II, its collection of richly decorated interiors is unequalled in Berlin.

Around Schloss Charlottenburg

The area surrounding Schloss Charlottenburg is one of the most enchanting regions of the city, full of greenery and attractive buildings dating from the end of the 19th century. Originally a small settlement called Lützow, it was only when Elector Friedrich III (later King Friedrich I) built his wife’s summer retreat here at the end of the 17th century that this town attained significance. Initially called Schloss Lietzenburg, the palace was renamed Schloss Charlottenburg after the death of Queen Sophie Charlotte. By the 18th century Charlottenburg had become a town, and was for many years an independent administration, inhabited by wealthy people living in elegant villas. It became officially part of Berlin in 1920, and despite World War II and the ensuing division of the city, the central section of this area has kept its historic character.

The park surrounding the former royal summer residence in Charlottenburg is one of the most picturesque places in Berlin. Visitors are drawn here by the meticulous postwar rebuilding of this luxury Baroque complex and outlying structures, whose marvellous interiors were once home to Prussian nobles. The wings of the palace and its pavilions house interesting exhibitions. After a stroll in the beautiful park, you can take refreshment in the Kleine Orangerie.

Reiterdenkmal des Grossen Kurfürsten (Monument to the Great Elector)

The statue of the Great Elector (Friedrich Wilhelm) is the finest in Berlin and was paid for by his son, Elector Friedrich III (later King Fried rich I). Designed by Andreas Schlüter to be cast in one piece, the statue was started in 1696 but not finished until 1703. It was initially erected near the former Berlin palace, by Lange Brücke (now called Rathausbrücke). The statue was moved to safety during World War II, but ironically, on the return journey, the barge transporting the monument sank in the port of Tegel.

In 1949 the statue was retrieved intact from the water and erected in the courtyard of Schloss Charlottenburg. However, it lacked the original base, which was left behind in East Berlin, so a copy was commissioned. The original base finally ended up in the Bode-Museum topped with a replica of the statue. The statue portrays the Great Elector as a warrior in ancient armour (albeit wearing a 17th century wig) mounted on horseback, triumphant over the figures of prisoners of war around the base. The base itself is decorated with patriotic reliefs of allegorical scenes. One scene depicts the kingdom surrounded by figures representing History, Peace and the Spree river; another shows the kingdom protected by embodiment's of Faith, Bravery (in the form of Mucius Scaevola) and Strength (represented by the figure of Hercules).

Neuer Flügel

Built between 1740 and 1747, the new wing of Schloss Charlottenburg used to house the popular Galerie der Romantik. The main part of this collection of Romantic paintings has now been returned to the Alte Nationalgalerie. The rest have been moved to the Neuer Pavillon. In its place, the new wing houses Frederick the Great’s private quarters. Items on display include paintings he acquired and curiosities such as his collection of snuff boxes. The wing also hosts temporary art and history exhibitions.

Neuer Pavillon / Schinkel-Pavillon

This charming Neo-Classical pavilion, with its clean lines and first-floor balcony, was built for Friedrich Wilhelm III and his second wife, Princess Auguste von Liegnitz. During a visit to Naples, the king stayed in the Villa Reale del Chiamonte and was so impressed that he commissioned Karl Friedrich Schinkel to build him something similar. The pavilion was finished for the king’s birthday on 3 August 1825. Schinkel designed a two-storey structure with a central staircase and ranged the rooms around it in perfect symmetry. Pillared galleries on the first floor added variety to the eastern and western elevations. A cast-iron balcony runs around the entire structure. Like many other Schloss Charlottenburg buildings, the pavilion burned down completely in World War II and was rebuilt in 1960. It reopened after renovations in 2011.

The display inside the pavilion reveals the original splendour and atmosphere of the aristocratic interiors, enhanced with pictures and sculptures of the period. The prize picture is a renowned panorama of Berlin dated 1834, painted by Eduard Gärtner from the roof of the Friedrichswerdersche Kirche. You can also admire paintings by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who was not only a great architect but also a fine painter of fabulous architectural fantasies.

Schlosspark / Palace Park

This extensive royal park that surrounds Schloss Charlottenburg, criss-crossed with tidy gravel paths, is a favourite place for Berliners to stroll at the weekend. The park is largely the result of reconstruction work carried out after World War II, when 18th-century prints were used to help reconstruct the varied layout of the original grounds. Immediately behind Schloss Charlottenburg is a French-style Baroque garden, made to a strict geometrical design with a vibrant patchwork of flowerbeds, carefully trimmed shrubs and ornate fountains adorned with replicas of antique sculptures. Further away from the palace, beyond the curved carp lake, is a less formal English-style landscaped park, the original layout of which was created between 1819 and 1828 under the direction of the renowned royal gardener, Peter Joseph Lenné. The lakes and waterways of the park are the habitat of various waterfowl, including herons. A bike path stretches along the Spree river from the palace park to the Grosses Tiergarten and beyond.

Gipsformerei Berlin / Replica Workshop

Founded by Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1819, the Gipsformerei produces original-sized replicas from items in Berlin museums and other collections. The first head of the workshop, which also repairs damaged sculptures, was renowned sculp tor Christian Daniel Rauch.

Visitors are welcome to this modest brick building west of Schloss Charlottenburg and can purchase items on the spot or choose from catalogues to have them made to order and shipped home. Sculptures are generally copied in white plaster or painted true to the original. Most moulds originate from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the 19th century.

Mausoleum

Queen Luise, the beloved wife of Friedrich Wilhelm III, was laid to rest in this modest, dignified building, set among the trees in Schloss park. The mausoleum was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, in the style of a Doric portico-fronted temple.

In the original design, the queen’s sarcophagus was housed in the crypt while the tombstone (actually a cenotaph sculpted by Christian Daniel Rauch) stood in the centre of the mausoleum. After the death of Friedrich Wilhelm in 1840, the mausoleum was refurbished, an apse added and the queen’s tomb moved to one side, leaving room for her husband’s tomb, also designed by Rauch. The second wife of the king, Princess Auguste von Liegnitz, was also buried in the crypt of the mausoleum, but without a tombstone.

Between the years 1890 and 1894, the tombs of Kaiser Wilhelm I and his wife, Auguste von Sachsen-Weimar, were added to the crypt. Both monuments are the work of Erdmann Encke.

Belvedere

The Belvedere is a summer house in the Schlosspark which served as a tea pavilion for Friedrich Wilhelm II and, in times of war, as a watchtower. It dates from 1788 and was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans. The architect mixed Baroque and Neo-Classical elements, giving the building an oval central structure with four straight- sided annexes. The building is crowned by a low dome topped with a sculpture of three cherubs supporting a basket of flowers. Though the Belvedere was ruined during World War II, the summer house was reconstructed between 1956 and 1960 and adapted to serve as an exhibition space. The exhibition is a large collection of porcelain from the Berlin Kön igliche Porzellan-Manufaktur (Royal Porcelain Workshop), which has pieces from the Rococo period up to late Biedermeier, including some outstanding individual items.

Museum Scharf-Gerstenberg

The two pavilions on either side of Schlossstrasse were intended as officers’ barracks for the King’s Guard du Corps. Built between the years 1851 and 1859 by Friedrich August Stüler, they were inspired by a design by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. The eastern pavilion joins the stable block and once housed the Ägyptisches Museum (Egyptian Museum), which has now moved to its original location, the Neues Museum, on Museum Island. Since the departure of the Egyptian Museum, the Marstall (stable block) has housed the Museum Scharf-Gerstenberg. Titled “Surreal World”, the museum presents paintings, sculptures and works on paper by Surrealist and associated artists such as Dalí, Magritte, Max Ernst, Paul Klee and Jean Dubuffet, and also older works by Goya, Piranesi and Redon. More than 250 objects are presented over three floors, explaining the history of surreal art, with pieces from almost all the leading Surrealists. A film programme features classic Surrealist films by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí.

Museum Berggruen

Heinz Berggruen assembled this tasteful collection of art dating from the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. Born and educated in Berlin, he emigrated to the US in 1936, spent most of his later life in Paris, but finally entrusted his collection to the city of his birth. The museum opened in what was once the west pavilion of the barracks using space freed up by moving the Antiken-sammlung to Museum Island. The exhibition halls were modified according to the designs of Hilmer and Sattler, who also designed the layout of the Gemäldegalerie. The Museum Berggruen is particularly well known for its large collection of quality paintings, drawings and gouaches by Pablo Picasso. The collection begins with a drawing from his student days in 1897 and ends with works he painted in 1972, one year before his death. In addition to these, the museum displays more than 60 works by Swiss artist Paul Klee and more than 20 works by Henri Matisse. The museum also houses paintings by other major artists, such as Van Gogh, Braque and Cézanne. The collection is supplemented by some excellent sculptures, particu larly those of Henri Laurens and Alberto Giacometti.

Bröhan-Museum

Located in a late Neo-Classical building which, like the Museum Berggruen, was formerly used as an army barracks, is this small but interesting museum. The collection of decorative arts was amassed by Karl H Bröhan, who from 1966 collected works of art from the Art Nouveau (Jugend stil or Secessionist) and Art Deco styles. The paintings of the artists particularly connected with the Berlin Secessionist movement, such as Karl Hagermeister and Hans Baluschek, are especially well repres ented. Alongside the paintings there are fine examples of arts and crafts in other media: furniture, ceramics, glass ware, silverwork and textiles. Each of the main halls features an individual artist, but often using an array of artistic media. There is also a display of furniture by Hector Guimard, Eugène Gaillard, Henri van de Velde and Joseph Hoffmann, glasswork by Emile Gallé, and porcelain from the best European manufacturers.

Schlossstrasse Villas

Most of the historic villas and buildings that once graced Schlossstrasse no longer exist. However, careful restoration of a few villas enables the visitor to get a feel for what the atmosphere must have been like at the end of the 19th century. It is worth taking a stroll down Schlossstrasse to look at three of the renovated villas – No. 65, No. 66 and especially No. 67. This last villa was built in 1873, in a Neo-Classical style to a design by G Töbelmann. After World War II, the building was refurbished to return it to its former splendour. The front garden, however, a characteristic of the area, was only returned to its original state in 1986, when several villas had their gardens restored. If you continue the walk down the nearby Schustehrusstrasse, there is an interesting school building at No. 39–43 linked to the Villa Oppenheim since the end of the 19th century.

Luisenkirche / Luise Church

This small church has under gone a series of redesigns and refurbishments in its lifetime. The original plans by Philipp Gerlach were first adapted by Martin Böhme, before the church was built (1713–16). Its Baroque styling was removed in the next course of rebuilding, undertaken by Karl Friedrich Schinkel from 1823 to 1826, when the church was renamed in memory of Queen Luise, who died in 1810. The last refurbishment took place after the church suffered major damage during World War II. The shape of the church is based on a traditional Greek cross, with a tower at the front. The interior fixtures and fittings are not the originals, and the elegant stained-glass windows were only made in 1956.

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