A palace is being rebuilt in the heart of the city, not as a seat for kings and kaisers – but as a museum for the whole world and all the diversity of its cultures.
An angry, shouting crowd gathered, armed with axes and hoes, and proceeded to destroy the weir. Masses of water flooded the excavations. The “Berlin Indignation” of 1448 was directed against the plans of their ruler, Elector Friedrich II, known as “Irontooth”, to build a palace there. Ultimately, the revolt failed and Irontooth built his palace. But the spirit of the Berlin Indignation is still alive today.
Berlin is known throughout the world as a city of freedom which promises its citizens space to live the kind of life they want. And no other building is as closely linked to the city’s history as the Berliner Schloss. Once again, a palace is being built in the heart of the city, but this time in the spirit of freedom. Not as a seat for kings and kaisers – but as a museum for the whole world and all the diversity of its cultures: the Humboldtforum.
A once-in-a-century project is happening on Schlossplatz in Mitte. In 2002, the German parliament decided to rebuild the Berliner Schloss – also known as the Stadtschloss (City Palace) – as a full-size replica of the former Hohenzollern palace with three historical façades and the inner courtyard. In 2013 the foundation stone was laid for the new building which will house the Humboldtforum.
The history of the Berliner Schloss
In the 15th century – in spite of all the protests – the margraves and electors built a heavily fortified castle on the island of Alt-Cölln in the Spree. In the 16th century the castle was demolished and replaced with a palace known as the Stadtschloss. It was more than just the seat of the Hohenzollerns and the residence of Prussian kings and German emperors. It was where the March revolution of 1848 broke out, where Kaiser Wilhelm II urged Berliners to go to war and where Karl Liebknecht stood on the balcony and proclaimed the “Free Socialist Republic of Germany”.
The demolition of the palace
Although the Stadtschloss was severely damaged by bombing in the second world war, it was not in danger of collapsing. Nevertheless, at its third party conference, East Germany’s ruling SED decided at the behest of its general secretary Walter Ulbricht to have the palace demolished.Despite all the protests pointing out its architectural and historical value as one of the most important north German Baroque buildings, the blasting squad moved in one day later on 7 September 1950. Only the portal with the balcony where Karl Liebknecht once stood was preserved, and later added to the façade of the new Council of State building.
On the site of the palace, the Palast der Republik was built as the seat of the East German parliament and a cultural centre with theatres, restaurants and a bowling alley. After reunification it was found to be contaminated with asbestos, and demolished in 2008.
The rebuilding of the Stadtschloss
The decision to pull down the Palast der Republik and rebuild the Stadtschloss initially led to heated discussions. The architect Franco Stella was commissioned to rebuild the palace and reconstruct its Baroque façade. The building is scheduled for completion by 2019.
The Humboldt Forum
The Humboldt Forum is to move into the castle. Permanent exhibitions at the Humboldt Forum include the Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz), the Berlin Exhibition (Stadtmuseum Berlin und Kulturprojekte Berlin) and the Humboldt Laboratory (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin). A place of world cultures in all their diversity is planned. The Forum will primarily be used by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. They show their ethnological and non-European collections. The phonographic archive from the Ethnological Museum in Dahlem will be exhibited together with the holdings of the sound archive of the Humboldt University.
On the first floor of the Humboldt Forum, a newly conceived Berlin exhibition shows the exchange between Berlin and the world. The focus is on (urban) society and its people as well as on the interaction between city and world.
A webcam shows the construction work
Anyone who is interested in the progress of the construction work, can follow them on a webcam. Three cameras, pointing to the east, the west and the south facade of the building, are updated every 15 minutes. Lapse movies complete the offer. The webcams can be called up via Anyone interested in the progress of the construction work, can follow him on webcam. Three cameras pointing to the east, the west and the south facade of the building and are updated every 15 minutes. Lapse movies complete the offer.
The webcams can be called up via sbs-humboldtforum.de
Find further information here