Berlin’s protestant cathedral was only forty years old when it was bombed by the allies in 1944, and it wasn’t completely restored until 2002. It’s never even had a Bishop’s chair – or even a Bishop – and yet it should be on every visitor’s list of things to see in Berlin.
Situated in the oldest part of the city opposite the Lustgarten, this neo-renaissance building was built by the young Emperor Wilhelm II as his private church to compliment his family’s city palace across the road. It immediately had its critics when the building’s religious significance appeared to take second place to the importance of the Emperor and the Hohenzollern dynasty, but somehow, it’s this connection with the German Empire that makes it especially interesting.
From the outside it almost looks as though the intention was to create a church on the lines of St. Peter’s in Rome but being a protestant church, I suppose it was more likely to have been influenced by somewhere like St. Paul’s in London.
There’s no mistaking its spiritual leanings when you enter because there are sculptures on columns around the base of the dome showing four European protestant reformers – Zwingli, Luther, Melanchthon, and Calvin. I was expecting an austere Baroque interior, but it’s more of a mixture of architectural styles. My favourite things to see were the Dome and its mosaics, the altar and its windows, and an amazing organ which I’m sure would make a most impressive sound.
There is also a ceremonial sarcophagus of King Friedrich I and another for his wife Sophie Charlotte of Hanover, but if you want to see one of the most famous burial sites in Europe head downstairs to the crypt. Dating back to 1536 and re-opened in1999, there are 94 coffins of the Prussian royal family and quite fascinating if you don’t mind this sort of thing.
Photography is permitted, but I always think it’s best not to use flash in these situations whether they specify it or not.