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August 28, 2008

Berlin is always worth a visit

Early this summer Mausi had to go to Berlin again on business. But luckily this time she had a whole afternoon to herself to be spent as she liked. Mausi decided to pay the so called "Museum Island" in Berlin a visit.

It is a little island within the river Spree that cuts right through Berlin and contains a number of museums that are under restauration at present. Among them is the famous Pergamon Museum and also the Berlin Cathedral. The Cathedral took a direct hit through the roof during WW II in 1944. Between 1961 and 1989, when Berlin was divided by the Berlin wall, the museum island belonged to East Berlin. It took as long as 1975 until the East German Government allowed any reconstruction work on the church financed with money from West Germany, of course. And then only on the condition that parts of Cathedral had to be torn down first, never to be rebuild.

Western Entrance into Berlin Cathedral

In 1993 reconstruction work was finally finished and the church was consecrated again. It is a very impressive building. The foundation were laid in 1894 by the German Kaiser Wilhelm II. The Cathedral were to serve as the Central Protestant Church in Germany, his own personal church and as a burial ground for the Hohenzollern family of which he was a member. In 1905 the building was finished and dubbed "The Emperor's Cathedral".

Interior of Berlin Cathedral with the Organ, Pulpit and Altar (from left to right)

Berlin Cathedral is not built in the traditional form of a cross but was designed as a central space in the shape of an irregular octagon surrounded by columns. There is room for 1619 visitors to be seated in oak pews. Standing inside the church the effect is stunning with the ceiling so high above you.

Wilhelm II wanted his Cathedral to be seen not only as a church but also as a demonstration of the newly acquired political influence and importance of the German Empire. This double purpose is expressed by statues of the four Reformers Zwingli, Luther, Melanchthon and Calvin on pillars along the Eastern side of the church and four Dukes, sympathetic to the Reformation, on pillars along the Western side. All Reformers are holding a bible, all Dukes are depicted with their swords.

The Sauer Organ with Philipp the Magnanimus on the left and the Reformer Ulrich Zwingli on the right

The Organ is a truly magnificent instrument. It was the largest organ ever built by the organ makers Wilhelm Sauer in Frankfurt/Oder. It has 7269 pipes, 113 registers, four manuals and one pedals. She is said to have the same tonal characteristics as a symphony orchestra. Mausi has bought a CD of an organ concert in Berlin Cathedral and she can confirm every word of the previous sentence. It is a magnificent recording.

Chancel of Berlin Cathedral

Another highlight inside Berlin Cathedral is the Chancel. The Windows are magnificent and only illuminated by natural light. When the sunlight shines through them they glow in a very warm and comforting light. The most striking feature in front of that is the gilt screen in front of them which shows the 12 Apostles.

There is a lot more to be seen inside and outside the Cathedral and it certainly requires several visits to take it all in. Mausi is looking forward to her next stay in Berlin - the Cathedral will definitely be on the agenda again.

Posted by Mausi at August 28, 2008 06:15 PM

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