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Berlin City Palace with Humboldforum. Still a construction site.
Berlin City Palace with Humboldtforum © visitBerlin, Foto: Mike Auerbach

Humboldtforum / Berlin City Palace

A palace for Berlin, a forum for the world

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 Humboldtforum

The palace will house the Humboldtforum, a place dedicated to the world’s cultures in all their diversity. The forum will be mainly used by the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz to exhibit its ethnological and non-European collections. The first large exhibits, such as the Pacific sailing boats from the Ethnologisches Museum and the caves from the Asiatisches Museum are set to move there in 2017.The City of Berlin will be showing the interactive exhibition Berlin und die Welt, telling the story of the city with all its highs and lows, showing the city today and describing Berlin’s global role. One room will be called Revolution, another will be called Freiräume (Open Spaces).

The Humboldt-Box

The Humboldt-Box is an information centre which gives you interesting insights and perspectives on the great cultural and building project. 22 metres up, on the rooftop terrace of the five-storey temporary building, you have the perfect view of the building work on the palace. You can also read a historical outline of the events from the beginnings of the Hohenzollern residence to the end of the Palast der Republik.

Admission free

Humboldt-Box opening hours
1 April to 30 November: 10:00-19:00
1 December to 31 March: 10:00-18:00

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