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French Cathedral at Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin
French Cathedral at Gendarmenmarkt, Berlin © Getty Images, Foto: Markus Gröteke / EyeEm

Huguenot Museum in the Französischer Dom

The Huguenots and Berlin - a story of persecution and tolerance

The Huguenot Museum in the Französischer Dom tells the history of the Huguenots and the long-standing history of the French community in Berlin.

Directly located on Gendarmenmarkt square is Berlin's French Cathedral; the Französischer Dom, and inside this magnificent building is the Huguenot Museum. It tells of the history of Protestant religious refugees from France and the economical and cultural enrichment they brought to Berlin, Brandenburg and Prussia. The starting point for this development is the Reformation, when a Protestant minority emerges in France. Pursued by the King and Catholic clergy, many Huguenots flee during the 16th century to Prussia, where the local nobility promised them protection. Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg welcomes around 20,000 refugees with his edict of 1685. Französischer Dom, built at the beginning of the 18th century, is an important meeting place for displaced persons. From 1780 to 1785, King Frederick II of Prussia uses it to flaunt his regal splendour. 150 years later, the Cathedral is dedicated to the Huguenot Museum. You'll find many historic exhibits revelatory of Huguenot life.

French-German friendship at the Gendarmenmarkt

In the heart of historic Friedrichstadt, the French Cathedral is located on the north side of the Gendarmenmarkt square. Formally a school and residence, the Huguenot Museum in the Französischer Dom is established in 1935. An antique-style gable forms a large columned portal. Inside, you discover the vivid history of the Huguenots. In five rooms and six tower niches, you find precious exhibits like the original edict of Potsdam. The honorary bust of its author, Prince-elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg, immediately catches the eye as you enter the museum. Many of the other exhibits in the museum date from his time: old paintings and documents, medals and manuscripts. Even historic stained glass windows from a French Calvinist Church. There is also information about famous Huguenots in Germany, like the painter Nikolaus Daniel Chodowiecki and poet Theodor Fontane. The exhibition also charts the construction of the Französischer Dom and the adjacent Friedrichstadtkirche. A historical library with valuable books compliments the collection.

Oil paintings, original artefacts and famous Huguenots: The highlights

  • Original edict of Potsdam.
  • Details of famous Huguenots such as Nikolaus Daniel Chodowiecki and Theodor Fontane.
  • Documents and medals from the early settlement period of the Huguenots in Prussia.
  • Stained glass window from the time of the persecution of Huguenots in France.
  • Documents and photographs about the architecture of Französischer and the Friedrichstadtkirche.

Deutscher Dom and Mendelssohn Remise: things to do at Gendarmenmarkt

The Deutscher Dom is located on the Gendarmenmarkt's southern side. This almost identical cathedral has been a venue for exhibitions of German history since 1996. In 2002, the Bundestag opens the permanent exhibition "Wege, Irrwege, Umwege". Five floors show the history of liberal, parliamentary democracy in Germany. The Mendelssohn Remise is located on Jägerstraße, only 150 metres from the museum. The former headquarters of the Mendelssohn Bank is dedicated to the cultural heritage of this bourgeois family. Philosopher Moses Mendelssohn is regarded as the founder of this dynasty. One of his grandsons is the famous composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. In the Remise, you will gain insight into Prussian-Jewish life and the impressive cultural legacy of this family.

Our tips for your visit

The underground line U6 stops near the Huguenot Museum at Französische Straße and Stadtmitte stations. You can also take the U2 to Hausvogteiplatz. The three stations are only between 150 metres and 450 metres from the Gendarmenmarkt. Motorists will find parking facilities in the underground car park on Friedrichstadt Passagen. Students, disabled and those with ALG II receive discount tickets (with valid proof). Guided tours of the Huguenot Museum in the Französischer Dom take place by appointment.