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A Touch of Late Renaissance

Temporarily closed.

The Ribbeck-Haus did not receive its name from the noble Brandenburg family immortalized in literature by Theodor Fontane, as one might easily surmise. Instead, it was commissioned in 1624 by Privy Counsellor Hans Georg von Ribbeck. The project involved merging two older gabled houses into a single structure with the slope of the roof and the eaves facing the street (known in German as a "Traufenhaus"). The location was well chosen as Breite Straße was a distinguished residential area for wealthy merchants and prominent citizens of the day. Today, the Ribbeck-Haus is the only Renaissance-era house left standing in Berlin. Striking are the typical Renaissance, ornate gables with helical volutes and the ornamental arched portal. Although the Ribbeck-Haus today is a listed building, what you see is not the original state of the building: it has been modified several times. For example, in 1804, the Renaissance gables were removed to make room for a third storey, evidenced by the different layout of the smaller windows. The gables were then placed on top of the higher structure. In World War II, the Ribbeck-Haus suffered severe damage. The house's arched portal is a replica and the façade was rebuilt in a simpler form. But, with a little imagination, you can imagine the town houses that once lined Breite Straße going to the Berlin Stadtschloß (City Palace). The Ribbeck-Haus is now home to the Zentrum für Berlin-Studien (Centre for Berlin Studies) of the Central and Regional Library Berlin.