Berlin Cathedral

Friday, 22 March 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: Berlin, General, Museums, Exhibitions

© A.Savin/cc-by-sa-3.0

© A.Savin/cc-by-sa-3.0

Berlin Cathedral (German: Berliner Dom) is the short name for the Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church (German: Oberpfarr- und Domkirche zu Berlin) in Berlin. It is located on Museum Island in the Mitte borough. The current building was finished in 1905 and is a major work of Historicist architecture of the “Kaiserzeit“.

The Dom is the parish church of the congregation Gemeinde der Oberpfarr- und Domkirche zu Berlin, a member of the umbrella organisation Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia. The Berlin Cathedral has never been a cathedral in the actual sense of that term since it has never been the seat of a bishop. The bishop of the Evangelical Church in Berlin-Brandenburg (under this name 1945–2003) is based at St. Mary’s Church and Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.

However, in the 19th century a new building was under discussion, but the post-Napoleonic poverty made its realization impossible. After dismantling the movable interior (altar, paintings, sarcophagi), Boumann’s building was demolished in 1893 and Julius and Otto Raschdorff, father and son, built the present Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church in exuberant forms of high Neo-Renaissance style.

With no separation of Protestant church and state of Prussia, Wilhelm II officiated as the summus episcopus (Supreme Governor of the Evangelical State Church of Prussia’s older Provinces, as it was named since 1875) and the state paid the complete construction cost of 11,5 million Marks. At 114 metres (374 ft) long, 73 metres (240 ft) wide and 116 metres (381 ft) tall, it was much larger than any of the previous buildings and was considered a Protestant counterweight to St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. On 27 February 1905, the present building was inaugurated.

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In 1940, the blast waves of Allied bombing blew part of the windows away. On 24 May 1944, a bomb of combustible liquids entered the roof lantern of the dome. The fire could not be extinguished at that unreachable section of the dome. So the lantern burnt out and collapsed into the main floor. Between 1949 and 1953, a temporary roof was built to enclose the building. On 9 May 1967 the then still undivided Evangelical Church of the Union decided a committee for the reconstruction of the Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church, then located in East Berlin. The government of the Eastern German Democratic Republic did not oppose the work of the committee due to the concomitant inflow of Deutsche Marks.

In 1975, reconstruction started, simplifying the building’s original design and demolishing the northern wing, the ‘Denkmalskirche’ – Memorial Church. Compared by some to the Medici Chapel, it had survived the war completely intact but was demolished for ideological reasons by the communist government due to it being a hall of honour for the Hohenzollern dynasty. This resulted in scaffolding for restoration appearing on the church while detonation charges were applied to its undamaged rear. The government also demanded the removal of as many crosses as possible. The demolition and redesign cost 800,000 marks, while the restoration (done on the cheap) cost just 50,000 marks. The Berlin Cathedral Building Society now seek to rebuild the Denkmalskirche.

In 1980, the baptistery and wedding church was reopened for services. The restoration of the nave was begun in 1984. On 6 June 1993, the nave was reinaugurated in an event attended by Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and televised nationwide in Germany. There has been discussion to restore the dome and surrounding cupolas to their original appearance, but this has not occurred due to lack of funds.

Read more on Berlin Cathedral, Berlin.de – Berlin Cathedral, VisitBerlin.de – Berlin Cathedral and Wikipedia Berlin Cathedral (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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