As I have written previously I follow reconstruction projects in Europe of various gardens and palaces and churches mostly destroyed between 1939-1945. Army of artisans, fresco painters and stonemasons work on such projects for years to bring back to life beautiful buildings lost in the madness of war.
There are projects like la Chapelle Royale at Versailles which has been undergoing a complete reconstruction of its roof, no maintenance or work had been done since it was built in 1710. The design was presented to the king by Jules Hardouin-Mansart in 1699. It is fascinating to see the work done on the wood skeleton of the roof and on the slate tiles and decorative elements of the roof. The funding for such projects comes from the public, Friends associations and the Government.
Other projects one in London is the complete refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, plumbing, mechanical and electrical needs to be redone. This is paid for by the Queen and the Government. The Palace is largely used for ceremonial and representational purposes. For all intent and purposes the Queen lives at Windsor or on her Estate at Sandringham or Balmoral. Many family members live at Kensington Palace, the Heir Prince Charles lives on the Mall at Clarence House and others have apartments at St-James Palace. It should be remembered that the size of their living quarters depends entirely on the rank at Court, the larger the living quarters the more important you are. Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall have after the Queen the largest living quarters in London and several other homes across the UK.
Other projects I have been following for years are the refurbishment and reconstruction of the City Palace in Berlin (1445), The FrauenKirche (1726) in Dresden and the rebuilding of the historical centre of Dresden.
Potsdam city centre was destroyed in April 1945, 2 weeks before then end of the second World War. When I first saw Potsdam in 1998 the centre was still a field of ruins except for the Church of St-Nicholas which had been repaired by the Lutheran Church. A strange sight amongst empty fields in what was before 1944 a royal city. Potsdam is often called the secret capital of Germany. It was preferred by the rulers to Berlin, a Venice of the North with its beautiful Italianate buildings, parks and canals.
The City centre of Potsdam has been restored and so are the numerous palaces and parks. There is a sense of esthetics to recreate what was in the original.
Now in Potsdam the Garnison Kirche is being rebuilt.
The Garnison Church (full name: Court and Garnison Church Potsdam, German: Hof- und Garnisonkirche Potsdam) is a protestant Baroque church. It was a parish church of the Hohenzollern royal family until 1918. Originally built as a Calvinist church for Prussian monarchs, it became a United Protestant church with both Clavinist and Lutheran participation after the 1817.
The architect Philipp Gerlach was commissioned by king Friedrich Wilhelm I to build the church for members of the court and for the soldiers garrisoned in Potsdam. It was consecrated on August 17, 1732 and was soon well-attended by both the civilian and military communities. Friedrich Wilhelm I was buried at his request in the crypt of the church in 1740. In 1786 his son, Frederick the Great, was buried there, against his will. He is now buried at his palace of Sans Souci with his dogs as he wished.
Both Tsar Alexander I and Napoleon visited Frederick II’s grave. It was here that the first freely-elected Potsdam City Parliament met and the Lutheran and Reformed Churches celebrated their union. In 1933 Adolf Hitler used the church for his Day of Potsdam, and this is what caused the controversy to this day about this church.
The nave and bell tower were destroyed by fire during an air raid in the night from April 14 to April 15, 1945. Only the outside walls remained standing. In 1950 the Holy Cross Chapel was built within the cruciform walls of the bell tower. A new congregation met there for services until on a summer Sunday in 1968, the GDR head of state Walter Ulbricht and his Communist government ignored widespread protests and ordered the remaining walls left standing to be torn down. In its place in 1971 an ugly Computing Center was built, now derelict
Since 2004 the Garnisonkirche belongs to the International Community of the Cross of Nails (founded in Dresden, Germany in February 1991).
In 2004 a group of citizens formed the Promotion Committee for the Reconstruction of the Garnison Church, a non-profit organization. In June 2008 followed the Garnisonkirche Potsdam foundation. Both organizations work together for the reconstruction of the Garnison church not only as a parish church for its citizens but also as a reminder that future German-European cooperation is possible and essential. In 2013 the German National Committee for Cultural and Media Affairs named the Garnison church Potsdam an important cultural monument and offered 12 million Euro towards the funding of its reconstruction. Reconstruction work began in 2017 with the aim to complete the tower first.
Photo from the German Federal Archives, 1928 the stables behind the Garnison church. Partial view of the side wall of the Garnison Church. Today only the facade we see here of the Stables remains.
The tower and its musical carillon are now under construction. The tower once completed will be 89 meters high or 292 feet. In the background of this 18 century painting, you can see the Royal City Palace rebuilt recently and now housing the Parliament of Brandenburg province.
Currently the base of the tower is progressing rapidly. The building behind on the left known as the old computing building will be demolished. In the background the facade of the old Stables with its baroque architecture.
Artist rendition of the area with the park that once existed behind the church.
In a few years when the carillon at the top of the church tower in re-installed we will be able to hear this piece from the Magic Flute by Mozart which historically played in the old church.