The Konzerthaus (Concert Hall) is the newest building on the Gendarmenmarkt. It was built between 1818 and 1821 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who around the same time also designed the reconstruction of the Berliner Dom. The Konzerthaus was built on the ruins of the National Theatre, which was destroyed by fire in 1817. Schinkel reused the columns and some of the old buildings outside walls. The Konzerthaus was badly damaged during WW2. The reconstruction work was finished in 1984 and the former theatre was turned into a concert hall with four halls. It is now the home of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin that gives more than 100 concerts each season. There are guided tours of the Concert Hall that normally take place on Saturdays at 1pm and cost 3 euros.
There is no internal access from the French Dome to the adjoining Friedrichstadtkirche which was built from 1701 to 1705. It was designed by Jean Cayart and, after Cayart’s death, by Abraham Quesnay for the Huguenots who had fled their Catholic country, wanting to follow their protestant belief after Calvin’s reformation.
From the outside the church looks more like a small French palace, with its beautiful exterior staircase.
The Huguenots had raised the money to build the church, King Friedrich I provided building materials. The Huguenots did all the work. In 1905 the church was altered in Baroque style, and after the extensive damage in World War II it was reconstructed from 1978 to 1983.
The building is a good example of the simplistic approach of the reformed church. You will not find anything bombastic. The windows are simple, and even the name does not glorify any saint or admired person. The exception is the organ with a golden corona including the Eye of God. (The organ’s carvings had been stored at a separate location during World War II, so you still see the original from 1755.). Reformed churches originally had no instruments.
The addition of the beautiful exterior staircase became necessary in the reconstruction process after World War II when an intermediate ceiling was inserted and the interior became a two-storey building. The lower level is used for functions of the community, the church itself and the organ are on the upper level.
Today the church is used by three communities, of course, including the descendants of the Huguenots who once founded and built the church. They often have organ concerts. If you happen to be there you either have to leave the church or pay an entry fee.
BTW The holes you might spot on the outside surface of the church are no bullet holes from the War but signs of environmental damage.
Mass with organ music Tue – Fri 12.30pm
30 min organ music Tue 3pm
Organ concert: Every first Thursday of the month (8pm)
Musical vespers: Every third Sunday of the month (4pm)
The Gendarmenmarkt is considered one of Europe's most beautiful squares, the name derived from a cavalry regiment named Gens d'Armes centered here between 1736-82. The original late 17th Century plan by Nering was altered by Georg Unger in 1777 incorporating the three buildings surrounding it. The oldest is the French cathedral built by immigrant Huegenots in 1701-5, modelled after a destroyed church in France. Second came the German cathedral at the south end of the square built between 1702-8 in the form of a pentagon by Simonetti with plans by Martin Grunberg. The churches were both different and not of architectural interest until 1785 when Carl Gontard added symmetric domes and columned porticos to each - today the facades appear essentially identical.
In 1821, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Berlin's leading architect filled the west side of the square with the famed concert hall, fronted in the center of the square by a statue of the German poet Friedrich Schiller placed in 1871. Business buildings occupy the east side, also built in classic style. All the major buildings were severely damaged during WWII, with reconstruction to original plans extending into the 1990's. Today the churches feature museums and restaurants while the concert hall is the home venue for the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.
The surrounding area of Mitte has undergone rapid commercialization with trendy restaurants, shopping malls and boutiques and several very upscale hotels including the Sofitel, Hotel de Rome ( which is breathtaking), and a Hilton and is at the center of the most upscale renovations in the East Berlin Mitte area.
We chose to visit after dark - the square was deserted and we were alone with the atmospheric lighting of these famed buildings and the beauty of the square. As with Bebelplatz ( see below ) perhaps the best time to visit and reflect on the past.
The Deutscher Dom or German Cathedral is on the southern side of the Gendarmenmarkt. The building was originally built as a church in 1708 but was completely destroyed by fire in 1945. It was rebuilt from 1982 until 1996 and is now a museum that covers an extensive exhibition on German parliamentary history on 3 floors with an English audio guide. There are 2 more floors with temporary exhibits but with only a German text the audio guide does not cover these floors.
Situated right between the German and French dome at the Gendarmenmarkt this beautiful hall of concerts was built by the famous architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1820. Schinkel had a very particular architectural style.
The Schauspielhaus (theatre) which became Konzerthaus (concert hall/philharmony) in 1994 is sitting between the German and the French Dome on the western side of Gendarmenmarkt. It was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel and built on the ruins of the National Theatre which had burnt down. Construction time was from 1817 to 1821. The Baroque transformation took place in 1903 and 1904.
Originally the Schauspielhaus was just a brick building. It became a splendid building by screening the exterior with glorious sandstone panels.
After the destruction of World War II only the exterior was reconstructed true to the original. The interior was completedly altered. Instead of a theatre with a stage they built a concert hall with space for an 1850 people strong audience. Inauguration was in 1984. Ten years later the Schauspielhaus was renamed into “Konzerthaus Berlin”.
Guided tours on most Saturdays at 1pm, phone (030) 20309-2343, fee 3 Euro
Free tours with volunteers must be checked on the blackboard on site or on the internet website.
Registration for group tours:
Phone (030) 20309-2343
Para muchos es una de las plazas más bonitas de Berlín
El nombre de Gendarmenmarkt (mercado de los gendarmes) proviene del regimiento hugonote de los Gens d'Armes, que se instaló en la plaza cuando la comunidad hunogote era perseguida en Francia y Guillermo I le dió refugio , derechos ciudadanos y protegió su libertad religiosa a pesar de que Berlín era protestante.
Federico I de Prusia le concedió, tanto a la comunidad luterana como a la comunidad reformada francesa, un lugar para construir sus respectivas iglesias y así edificaron en cada extremo de la plaza El Französischer Dom (Catedral Francesa)y el Deutscher Dom( Catedral alemana ) que son dos iglesias muy parecidas
En el centro de la Plaza está la Konzertthaus en la que destaca delante de ella el monumento a Schiller que está alineado con la posición en la que está colocado el director de la orquesta dentro de la sala
For many people it is one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin
The name Gendarmenmarkt comes from the Huguenot regiment Gens d'Armes, which was installed in the square when Huguenot community was persecuted in France and William I gave them haven, protected its citizens' rights and religious freedom although Berlin was Protestant.
Frederick I of Prussia was granted to both the Lutheran community as the French Reformed community, a place to build their churches and they were built at each end of the square , The French Dom (French Cathedral) and the Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) , two churches that are very similar
In the centre of the square is the Konzertthaus where highlight in its front the monument to Schiller that is aligned with the position position of the orchestra conductor in the room
The most beautiful square I saw in Berlin! On two sides you have churches that look very similar (the French church and the German church), on another side you find one Berlin's most beautiful theaters (Schauspielhaus) and in front of the theater there is quite a nice monument for Friedrich Schiller.
The name comes from a regiment of guards ("Gens d'armes") that had its station and its stables there. The poet E.T.A. Hoffmann lived at that square from 1815 to 1822.
The center of Friedrichstad was once designed on the 18th and 19th centuries to become one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. The Contstable's Square.
The square features the Schauspielhaus, and the French and German Cathedrals.
The French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) was built by the Huguenot community who had sought refuge in Protestant Berlin after being persecuted in France. It was built between 1701-05 and was modelled on the Huguenot Church in Charenton that was destroyed in 1688. In 1785 the tower and porticos were added making it look similar to the German Cathedral on the other side of the square. The building was destroyed during WW2 and rebuilt between 1977 and 1988. The church also contains a Huguenot Museum and restaurant. There is a viewing platform though it is closed at present for repairs, but it should be open soon
1. French "Dom" at the Gendarmenmarkt
2. Concert House
The German word "Dom" usually means cathedral, but the German Dom and the French Dom at the Gendarmenmarkt are not cathedrals at all, they are just, well, buildings with domes.
In the German Dom there is a museum of the German parliament, and in the French Dom (first photo) there is a museum devoted to the Huguenots, French Protestants who fled from France to avoid persecution at various periods starting in the sixteenth century.
The Protestant rulers of Berlin welcomed the Huguenots with open arms, not only because of their religion but also because most of them were skilled workers in a variety of trades -- and because they spoke French, a particularly suave language that every self-respecting German aristocrat wanted to learn.
The Concert House (second photo) was originally built from 1818 to 1821 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel as a theater. The original building was destroyed in the Second World War. After a long hiatus it was rebuilt as a concert house from 1979 to 1984.
The church beside the French Dome is the French Friedrichstadtkirche, named after the suburb Friedrichstadt. (See extra tip.)
To build the purpose-less French Dome beside this church between 1780 and 1785 the French Huguenots’ cemetery had to be relocated. In exchange the Huguenots got the right to use the dome for all times. They had once fled their Catholic home country for practising their protestant religion after the reformation by Calvin.
Dome and Friedrichstadtkirche were nearly completely destroyed in World War II but were reconstructed between 1981 and 1987. The Dome is used today as the Huguenots’ Museum (Hugenottenmuseum). It displays the history and the life of the French immigrants.
Open Tue – Sat 12pm – 5pm, Sun 11am – 5pm
Entry fee 2 Euro
Gendarmenmarkt is often referred to as Berlin's most beautiful square. And with the two churches which almost look alike and the Konzerthaus between them it looks really impressive and it's a nice place to sit down for a drink and some rest from all the walking.
The French cathedral is the cathedral on your right when facing the Konzerthaus. It was built for the Huguenot in the beginning of the 18th century. There is an exhibition inside nowadays.
Only in the first instant it is surprising to find a statue of Friedrich von Schiller on Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt, as we Schwaben from the land of Württemberg consider Schiller as “our” poet and philosopher. But in fact he was – together with Goethe – Germany’s greatest classic writer, philosopher, dramatist and poet, and so it is absolutely normal that he has a place in front of Berlin’s former national theatre.
Schiller was born in Marbach on the river Neckar, near Stuttgart, on 10 November 1759 in the south of Germany, and he died on 9 May 1805 in Weimar, only 45 years old, from acute pneumonia. On Goethe’s request he later was buried at Schiller’s side. In the city of Weimar both poets stand side by side on a monument. He was ennobled in 1802, by the addition of “von” in front of his last name.
Schiller’s plays are part of the standard repertoire of German theatres. His first big hit was “Die Räuber” (The Robbers) in 1776. The premiere in Mannheim (1782) was a huge success, especially young people loved it. However, the reigning Duke of Württemberg was not impressed and imprisoned the poet for two weeks and forbid him to write comedies and similar stuff.
Then Schiller wrote “Kabale und Liebe” (Intrigue and Love) and “Don Carlos”, later “Wallenstein”, „Maria Stuart“, „Wilhelm Tell“, and „Die Jungfrau von Orléans“ (The Maid of Orleans). I think everybody at my age and time had to learn “Das Lied von der Glocke” (Song of the Bell) by heart, and my father still knows every word of it.
Many of Schiller’s poems and dramas became musical pieces. You might have heard “Ode an die Freude” (Ode to the Happiness) which Beethoven used for this 9th symphony. Verdi adapted several of Schiller’s play for his operas, “Don Carlos” is just one of them.
This is often considered the most beautiful square in Berlin and whilst I agree that it is beautiful, it is not stunning in a "Grand Place" style. There are however the two impressive twin churches, the French and the German Church respectively, in either end of the square. The German is used as an exhibition centre today but we never visited as most guides called it a boring place. Instead, we sat in the lovely square and listened to buskers and had a beer at the great Concert Hall. You can also go for horse and carriage rides around the blocks here.