So im slowly continuing my quest to visit all the “111 Places in Berlin” and while I while I love Book, I think it misses out on several interesting places in Berlin (see Nr 112 – The Russian Orthodox Church) – so ive decided to add a few places to this list (while still exploring the original 111).
As with many places in Berlin, the Berliner Dom was just too much of a “tourist” thing for it to be on the top of my “must visit now list”. What deterred me even more from visiting the Berliner Dom was that apparently you had to pay to get in. screw that. im cheap - im not going to pay to go into a church. I will however always donate some money and light a candle when i visit one. So that was that and for months (which eventually turned into years) I never bothered going inside.
But there it stood, right in the middle of the wonderful Museumsinsel, taunting me with its beautiful facade and utterly disgusting 1980s spire/cross.
On a particularly rainy day (not the same day the above picture was taken) we were caught out in a storm – and there we stood, in front of the Dom. What better place to seek refuge in than a Church? We decided to fork out the 7 euro (per person) entrance fee and wandered inside.
*Warning – Berliner Dom Historical Info*
The Berliner Dom is actually called the “Oberpfarr- und Domkirche zu Berlin” (Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church) – seeing as that’s quite a mouthful, its usually just referred to as the Berliner Dom.
The origins of the Berliner Dom actually date back to the 15th Century. Frederick II of Brandenburg (Not to be confused with Frederick II aka the Great – they lived 241 years apart) decided to move his residence from Brandenburg upon Havel to Cölln in 1451 (Cölln is the southern part of Museum Island) into the newly built Berliner Stadtschloß. The Stadtschloß also housed a Catholic chapel which in 1454 – when Frederick II returned to Berlin– via Rome – from his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, was elevated the to the level of a parish church.
Fast forward a few years. In 1535, Joachim II Hector became Prince-elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (that’s a fancy title) and started renovating and expanding the castle. The church was expanded and remodeled in a Gothic style, a crypt and a bell tower were added. At this point the Parish Church had grown into a full sized cathedral – which was officially inaugurated in 1536. Now here comes the twist – Joachim II decided that Catholicism wasnt his thing and converted over to the Protestant faith in 1539 – so the Catholic Cathedral turned into a Protestant Cathedral.
So skip to the year 1747. Frederick II (the Great) decided it was about time to erect a new baroque cathedral next to the Lustgarten as the old one was falling apart. The crypt was moved and the old church was torn down.
We spotted some more stairs, and seeing as no one stopped us we ventured even higher.
This brings us to the part why I recommend visiting the Dom. If you manage to climb the millions of stairs you get up to the level of the main cupola. A pathway inside leads you around the entire circumference of the dome giving you a nice view from inside the dome.
If you keep on walking you’ll eventually find a door which leads you outside. Just as we climbed outside the rain stopped and while the clouds still drapped heavily over the city we enjoyed a beautiful view over the Museumsinsel and the rest of Berlin. While the interior of the church will keep you occupied for 10 minutes at best – being on the outside of the Dome is a fantastic experience. There is a pathway outside which leads you all the way around – giving you a majestic 360 view over Berlin.
Maybe because Berlin doesnt have any skyscrapers, or a defining skyline - but any chance to view Berlin from above is a defining experience. Be it from the Teufelsberg, from the Fernsehturm, The Welt Balon, The Siegessäule or the roof of an abandoned Ice Factory, Berlins “grounded architecture” gives us the urge to climb higher and see the world beneath us.
Just as we were about to leave we decided to quickly venture down into the crypt. It fully lives up to its purpose and houses quite a large assortment of zink and marble coffins. If you’ve seen one ornate royal coffin, you’ve seen them all – so we made a beeline for the exit, and in the process were forced to go through an incredibly tack gift shop and a horribly placed Cafe Einstein. I think the Church would be better off if it removed both of those monstrosities.
A quick final verdict: As the title secretly implies – visit the Berliner Dom for its Dome, the 7 euros are more than worth it.
7 Euros/ reduced 4 Euros
Monday through Saturday 09.00 am – 8.00 pm
Sundays and Holidays 12 noon – 8.00 pm
From October 1st through March 31st, closing at 7 pm