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Over the roofs of Berlin

Potsdamer Platz and Staatsbibliothek
Potsdamer Platz and Staatsbibliothek visitberlin, Foto: Wolfgang Scholvien

When I walk the couple of blocks from Potsdamer Platz over to the Philharmonie or head over to the Neue Nationalgalerie, I don’t normally pay much attention to today’s destination off to the left.


It’s the Matthäuskirche, the striped brick building in honour of St Matthew on Matthäikirchplatz and a real insider’s tip. The tower, the clock and the green roof clearly identify the building as a church. But the Matthäuskirche is so much more than a place of worship; it also serves as a gallery, concert hall and a place with a great view. Upon entering, I am immediately struck by the oversized abstract painting behind the altar. The rest of the church’s white walls also serve as exhibition space. And even the altarpiece itself changes from time to time. The one thing that’s constant is a work of art that you’ll probably only notice at second glance. After walking a few steps towards the altar from the entrance, my eyes catch sight of the floor. Here, in the middle of the church, are seven steps strewn with red sand that lead down into an imaginary basement. The staircase is covered with a glass plate that reflects the clouds through the windows above. And when you look at “Steps”, this floor sculpture by Michael Ullmann, from the other side, they lead up from the depths – it makes sense, but it’s still fascinating. My tour also heads up, this time up the church tower.

While you can take the fastest lift in Europe over at Potsdamer Platz, a few hundred meters to the east, this ascent is all about taking a leisurely pace as you climb the stairs. A quick glance at the clock to prepare myself for the bells, because it can be uncomfortably loud if the bell sounds while you’re in the tower. Once you get to the top of the bell tower, you’ll enjoy a wonderful view of Potsdamer Platz and the Kulturforum that looks from like a giant carpet from this vantage point.. I can see a couple of people enjoying breakfast on the roof of the adjacent building and I catch a glimpse of another hidden attraction in these parts: the sculpture garden by Mies van der Rohe that lies hidden behind the Neue Nationalgalerie. No one’s up here with me except for a blackbird. I enjoy the peace and quiet and the view and decide to stop by here more often.