111 Places in Berlin – Nr 113: Der Berliner Dom

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.

During the 19th century, it was decided that the church was no longer fit for the monarchy, so under the leadership of king  Friedrich Wilhelm IV, plans were drawn up to expand the church. After having started the work – it was soon abandoned again in 1848 due to a chronic lack of funds (and because people obviously had BETTER THINGS TO DO).  After the formation of the German Reich (that’s the second one if you’re counting), plans were drawn up to build a representative cathedral for the grand empire.  The plans were approved by King Wilhelm II, and the old Cathedral was torn down (again).
The foundation of the “Berliner Dom” was laid on the 17th of June 1894, and was set to be completed by the year 1900, but due to  construction delays, the cathedral was not inaugurated until the 27th February 1905 (making it exactly 255 days older than the St. Istvan Cathedral in Budapest).
View of Berliner Dom in Berlin, around 1900.

View of Berliner Dom in Berlin, around 1900 – image via wikipedia

The Berliner Dom suffered heavily under the Berlin Air raids during WWII. All the glass stained windows had been blown out, and the domes of the corner towers had begun to crack. In 1944 an incendiary bomb hit the main dome, and set it on fire. After the structure couldnt carry the weight of the spire anymore, the spire collapsed and crashed through the crypt below causing serious damage.
The Berliner Dom in May 1945

The Berliner Dom in May 1945 – Original Source Unknown

Despite the fact that it lay in ruins, the Berliner Dom remained one of the most prominent symbols of Berlin, so all efforts were set in place for its restoration. Emergency restorations were completed in 1953 and a new cross was placed on top of the main dome in 1981. After the main chapel had been restored the main portal opened its doors again to the public in 1993. In 2002 – 58 years after its near destruction – the last of the cupola mosaics had been restored, marking an end to the major restoration efforts.
**end Historical Info**
We entered the main hall of the cathedral and I was underwhelmed. Our first impression was that it felt tiny. As odd as it sounds, it also feels rather empty. Now don’t misunderstand – the interior is quite ornate, but not quite what you would expect when you compare it to the opulent exterior.
The High Altar of the Berliner Dom

The High Altar

The Main Cupola of the Berliner Dom

The Main Cupola with the restored Mosaics

Close up of The High Altar

The Ornate High Altar

The Pulpit of the Berliner Dom

The Pulpit

The Sauer Organ and Pulpit in the Berliner Dom

The Gigantic Sauer Organ

Tauf und Traukirche of the Berliner Dom

The Baptism and Wedding Chapel of the Berliner Dom

Main Door of the Tauf und Traukirche

Main Door of the Tauf und Traukirche

As the rain kept on going outside, we decided to sit down and enjoy a few of the organ sonatas that were being played. From the corner of my eye, I noticed some stairs and so we headed up to the VIP lounges – which back in the day were reserved for the nobility, politicians and diplomats.
Entry only for Royalty, Diplomats and Politicians

Entry only for Royalty, Diplomats and Politicians – i.e Not You

An ornate Banister Cross

An ornate Banister Cross

View from the VIP Lounges

A nice view from the VIP Lounge

View from the VIP Balcony

View of the main Cupola, Organ and Pulpit

Things always get more interesting the higher you climb, so we wandered up as far as the stairs would let us. The Berliner Dom set up a museum on the upper floor. documenting the history of the Building, with scale models and original pieces of the facade. Quite interesting if you are into that sort of thing.
Scale model of the Berliner Dom

Scale model of the Berliner Dom

Corinthian Style Column

Corinthian Style Column (?) – I should have paid more attention in School

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.

 

View from Inside the Dome

View from Inside the Dome – The Glass did make it hard to take any sort of picture

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.

Berlin TV Tower in the Clouds

Berlin TV Tower in the Clouds

View of the lawn in front of the Alte Museum

View of the lawn in front of the Alte Museum

View of the Alte Nationalgalerie

View of the Alte Nationalgalerie

Angel with Triangle

Angel with Triangle

Angel with Cymbals

Angel with Cymbals

Angel with Harp

Angel with Harp

Conductor Angel

Conductor Angel

 

One of the smaller Cupolas

One of the smaller Cupolas

View over Burgstraße and the Smaller cupola

View over Burgstraße and the Smaller cupola

View of the TV Tower from the Berliner Dom

View of the TV Tower from the Berliner Dom

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.

 

Berliner Dom

http://www.berlinerdom.de/

Ticker Prices

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

 

 

2 Comments

  1. David says:

    I’m glad you finally made it to the Dom. I had similar reservations about paying to get in but it is definitely worth it. And I had the added bonus of being able to send my mum the link to my post as she had been eager to visit when she came to see me in Berlin.

  2. Yeah – kind of stupid that it took me so long to see it – the pictures alone have been sitting on my SD card now for 9 months but its def. worth it.

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