Schinkel’s imposing church is always worth a look.
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When talking about the city’s most famous architect, Berliners used to say there was a Schinkel building on every corner. An in Mitte at least, it’s still true today, even if many of his religious buildings, like the Friedrichswerdersche Kirche, are no longer used as churches. The Friedrichswerdersche Kirche is an exhibition space for sculptures from the Schinkel period.
The history of the church
The Friedrichswerdersche Kirche is situated at Werderscher Markt – not far from the Humboldtforum, the Rotes Rathaus and the Foreign Ministry. Karl Friedrich Schinkel had left his romantic nationalist “Sturm und Drang” period with all its Gothic cathedral designs long behind him by 1821, when he planned the reconstruction of the dilapidated Franco-German church. Schinkel’s design was based on the Gothic style of English chapels and incorporated Classical elements. The interior of the church, with its groups of pillars rising to a very high ceiling with reticulated vaults, followed Gothic principles.
The church was built between 1824 and 1831 and was Berlin’s first Neo-Gothic church. As early as 1843, Schinkel’s successor Friedrich August Stüler was commissioned to make the church even more Gothic, and embellished the two towers with pinnacles and cast zinc crocketed spires.
For more than a hundred years, the church was used by the Lutheran community. It was badly damaged in the Second World War, and stood as a ruin for four decades, with its stained-glass windows put in storage and forgotten. The crates containing the long-lost windows were lost until 1982, when the water was pumped out of the cellar vaults of the Berliner Dom.
The sculpture exhibition
For Berlin’s 750th anniversary, the Friedrichswerdersche Kirche was turned into a museum, an affiliate department of the Alte Nationalgalerie. Its nave is an atmospheric backdrop to an exhibition of sculpture from Schinkel’s time.