Known as the “Protestant of San Pedro”, Berlin Cathedral boasts of never having housed a Catholic bishop. It is the most representative religious building in the city and was rebuilt in 1894 on top of a previous baroque cathedral. During World War II a bomb destroyed its dome, forcing it to be rebuilt.
The impressive dome that can be admired today is covered in bronze on the outside and has magnificent mosaics inside, among other wonderful decorative elements.. From it you can contemplate one of the best views of the city. It also houses numerous tombs of Prussian royalty.
Its proximity to the palace turned the Berlin Cathedral into the church and mausoleum of the court during the Hohenzollern dynasty. The family had a luxurious staircase for exclusive use that led directly to the imperial box.
This cathedral is built between the site formerly occupied by the Imperial Palace and the Museum Island, one of the most important museum complexes in the world.
A little history
The original building on which it was built was a baroque cathedral built by Johann Boumann in 1747. It was demolished in 1874 by order of Emperor Wilhelm II. The current Berlin Cathedral replaced the previous one. It was completed at the beginning of the 20th century and was built in the neo-baroque style.
It was heavily bombed during World War II. However, its restoration works were delayed until 1975 and were not completed until 1993.
For your partthe Museum Island is a magnificent space that houses five museums from the time of the German Enlightenment. All internationally renowned, together make up an extraordinary group.
It opened in 1830 with the first of the museums, the Old Museum. This offered the public for the first time important collections of art and historical importance. In the Modern Age, the collections of the bourgeoisie were considered a national pride.
Thirty years after the opening of the Old Museum, the second museum, the Royal Prussian Museum, opened its doors. Three others would follow: the Old National Gallery, the Museum of Emperor Frederick (Bode-Museum) and the Pergamon Museum. World War II left this complex also seriously damaged.
Berlin Cathedral and the Hohenzollern Crypt
The Berlin Cathedral is much larger than those built before it on this very spot. It was designed as a huge Protestant temple to compete with St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Its huge dome has splendid views of Alexanderplatz and the Museum Island itself. It’s 270 steps to the top. But, unlike other European cathedrals, the climb is quite easy, since it is quite wide and has rest areas.
It has a large round central nave with two adjoining chapels. Inside it houses the impressive Sauer organs. The pulpit is a neo-baroque masterpiece and the stained glass windows are the work of Anton Von Werner.
Inside the Berlin Cathedral is the crypt of the Hohenzollerns. This houses the sarcophagi of 80 members of the Prussian royalty and the imperial family. They are arranged in chronological order. The most spectacular sarcophagi are those of Frederick I and Sophie Charlotte, his wife.
The Museum Island
As we anticipated, there are five museums that make up this group. Let’s take a very quick tour of them:
- The Pergamon Museum by Alfred Messel. It is the most visited in Berlin and is being restored with a fourth wing that will be operational in 2025. It houses impressive works, such as the Ishtar Gate, and a magnificent museum of Islamic art.
- The Bode Museum It houses an extensive collection of sculptures spanning a period between the Byzantine period and the 18th century.
- The Neues Museum (New Museum) houses pieces from the Egyptian Museum and the Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory. The jewel of this museum is the bust of Nefertiti.
- The Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie) is inspired by the Acropolis of Athens. Inside you can admire important works of classicism, romanticism, impressionism, as well as pieces of early contemporary art.
- The Altes Museum (Museo Antiguo) with its neoclassical façade of columns, it houses art from antiquity, Greek and Roman, as well as an impressive collection of Etruscan art.
In 1999, the architectural and cultural ensemble of the Berlin Museum Island was elevated to the rank of World Heritage from Unesco.