Today I saw this picture of Unter den Linden and looking Eastward towards the City Palace, we see the famous equestrian statue of Frederick II the Great riding his favourite horse Condé.
Named after a French Prince of the time Louis de Bourbon-Condé, this horse was purchased in 1777 at the age of 11 and quickly became the favourite of Frederick II. He would ride him in Potsdam every day and do so until a few weeks before he died. After the King’s death Condé would continue to live a quiet life for many more years dying at 38 in 1804. He was from the Wallach breed, a German breed of riding horse. His skeleton today is at the Veterinary college.
He was according to records, spoiled, Frederick would often put slice of melon and figs in his coat pocket and Condé would come and sniff them out, it amused the King, there was a close familiarity between Condé and Frederick II, that his visitors to Potsdam observed. The same with his dogs, all Whippets, he is buried in the garden of Sans Souci with his dogs, as he stipulated in his will.
To be in Berlin in the Spring, with its parks, lakes and rivers, beautiful restaurants and great museums, concert halls and Opera houses. Maybe one day after this pandemic, we can travel.
Finally today we are having sunshine and mild temp, in the next few days it will go up to 14C, however for the Easter Weekend looks like rain and 6C.
This morning we went to Leonhard’s for breakfast, owned by a swiss german fellow, this café has a very elegant european flair to it, not only in its relaxed and elegant decor but also in the food they serve. All of it is clearly inspired by European cuisine and not the usual North American fair.
I had an omelette with vegetables, it was very fluffy and seasoned just right, something you do not encounter usually in restaurants here. Tables are set with fresh flowers, tulips at this time of the year. You could say that the atmosphere is clean, crisp and relaxed. No background music which is nice. In the summer they have ample boxes of flowers and hanging green plants on the front sidewalk.
We have another German bakery which just opened also on Great George street but on the South side of the Provincial Legislature, again offering a very different fair from all the other restaurants/café in town. More geared towards the local crowd instead of the tourist crowd.
This morning one of the blogs I follow, entitled Berlin Companion featured the National Monument to the Wars of Liberation in Kreuzberg on its 200 Anniversary.
For people who have visited the Invalides in Paris, under the dome is the Tomb of Emperor Napoleon, you will probably have noticed the 12 columns in a circle around the tomb, they represent the 12 military campaigns of Napoleon all across Europe over 12 years, basically continuous wars during his reign. The Monument on the Kreuzberg in Berlin also refers to the 12 wars which are named wars of Liberation from French oppression. There are all over Germany, other monuments were built celebrating that liberation from this constant warfare waged by Napoleon in his effort to conquer Europe and appoint himself the new Charlemagne.
This is something very rarely mentioned in history books and certainly never mentioned by French authors who prefer to present Napoleon’s action as a romantic endeavour. However if you follow the historical tread you will see that those wars sowed the seeds for further wars in the 19th century between France and German States and Prussia and after 1870 a unified Germany. It is almost a seesaw effect of trying to correct wrongs. Think 1870 Franco-Prussian War, 1914-1918 and then 1939-1945, in all those conflicts the underlying narrative is revenge, either by Germany or France.
The National Monument on Kreuzberg (Cross Hill) leads down the avenue to Belle-Alliance Platz this alliance/Treaty between Great-Britain, Prussia, Austria and Russia created and maintained an army of 600,000 men until such time as Napoleon was completely defeated and overthrown. This Belle-Alliance ultimately led to Waterloo. Since 1945 Belle-Alliance Platz has been renamed Mehring Platz and sadly completely modernized.
On March 30, 1821 – the seventh anniversary of the Prussian charge of Montmartre and of the conquest of Paris, which unavoidably triggered Napoleon’s demise in 1814 – King Friedrich Wilhelm III arrived on top of the Tempelhofer Berg (also known as the Weinberg, soon to be renamed Kreuzberg). The highest natural elevation in what is now central Berlin but back in the days was still part of a district outside the city limits.
Accompanied by an illustrious guest, Russian Tsar Alexander I – Friedrich Wilhelm’s brother-in-arms in the conflict with Napoleon Bonaparte – Prussian monarch came to witness the unveiling of a monument commemorating their victories in what came to be known as the Wars of Liberation, 1802-1814.
As Prussia’s military ally in the wars against Napoleon it was Alexander who prevented the king – as well as the Austrian emperor for he was wavering, too – from making what could have been the biggest mistake in the history of the Coalition: he convinced them to take Paris instead of withdrawing their troops. Now it was time to celebrate these good choices.
National Memorial for Wars of Liberation – a 200-tonne cast-iron tapering structure installed on an octagonal stone base – was the work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Johann Heinrich Strack (who was responsible for the stone base).
Schinkel, supported by several renown contemporary artists with Christian Daniel Rauch as the most prominent among them, created an artwork which truly had everything a memorial of this kind should possess: it was impressive, it was elegant, it was positively oozing with symbols which everybody understood and was happy to see included and, last but not least, it had twelve extremely good-looking statues with faces the crowds back then were often able to recognise.
The memorial’s leitmotiv was a cross: it was a direct reference to a new military decoration introduced by King Friedrich Wilhelm III in 1813 after the Battle of Leipzig: the legendary Eiserne Kreuz, the Iron Cross. The foot of the memorial itself is shaped liked one, too, and you will see the shape repeated from the memorial’s bottom to its very top.
The 200-year-old memorial in Viktoriapark inspired the name of the hill and the neighbourhood.
It seems that the Holiday Season is the season for Sweets of all kinds. You receive them as gifts, you make some to give as a gift or for dessert or to offer to people visiting. Here at our house we have little bags of goodies, full of chocolates and other sweets we give out to guests. Then there are the cakes and pastries, here have another one, but I already had 3, it does not matter who is counting anyway it’s the Holidays.
We have enough sweets to last us until at least Valentines day. It is almost as if because it is the end of the year over eating is a way of saying, you know what, I made it through another year, I deserve a reward especially after 2020!
A few years ago when I worked on the painting exhibit by Canadian War Artists at the Canadian War Museum, I discovered a collection of Canadian paintings numbering about 1000, by Canadian men who had enlisted for the 1914-1918 conflict. Their job was to document the horrors of the battlefield for posterity. These fellows were in many cases painters, 6 of them would go on after the war to form the celebrated Canadian Group of Seven. One of those men was A.Y. Jackson. His paintings of battlefield and ravaged landscape where presented juxtaposed to those of another famous artists Otto Dix who fought against him in the trenches on the German Side. Both men knew each other and respected each others work, lived long lives but unfortunately never met. Otto Dix in Germany created the movement called New Objectivity in painting with his harshly realistic paintings. He quickly fell afoul of the Nazi regime in 1933 and was declared degenerate by their ideological standards. He stayed in Germany but was under house arrest and narrowly avoided the concentration camps.
The group of seven during the years 1919-1933 were painting Canadian Wilderness Landscapes, a first since no one before them had done it. It was new and exciting in the Canadian Art World. What many people do not know is that Max Aitken Lord Beaverbrook not only financed the work of Canadian War Artists but took care of collecting the works. Today this war art collection is mostly in the vaults of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Some pieces are seen from time to time by the public. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton houses the Art collection of Max Aitken, and it is impressive. He had the money and influence to acquire great art and the gallery is celebrated for its works of art. It is currently closed for an expansion project until 2022.
I was looking at yet another architectural project in Berlin. A city that has experienced a renaissance since 1989 with the fall of the Wall. This one is the building of a Museum to Exile, dedicated to all the people forced out in the period 1933-1940 by the policies of the Nazi Regime. Artists, opposition politicians, scientists, academics, musicians, basically anyone who was targeted and told to get out before it was too late.
The new museum to be built with an opening date of 2025 will be located in what use to be the Official Train Station of the German State, Anhalter Bahnhof. All important arrivals and departures from Berlin took place at this train station, the Kaiser used the Anhalter Bahnhof for this purpose and then it was used by the Nazi Regime for welcoming friendly Heads of Government like Italian Fascist Dictator Benito Mussolini on his visit to Berlin in 1938. Between 1933 and 1940 it became also the train station used by people forced out, going into exile because they fell afoul of the Nazi Regime, thousands left for other countries in Europe through this station.
What is left today of this once large train station in central Berlin.
The station has stood as a ruin for more than 70 years, everything else that was once part of this great building a field of ruin and open land. It is not clear why only the portico survived, but part of the Communist ideology wanted such vestiges to teach people a lesson and East Berlin was until 1990 strewn with such ruins. East Germany occupied by the Russians was full of historical and cultural sites, left mostly abandoned. Cities like Leipzing where J.S.Bach lived and worked suffered greatly at the hands of the East German government who demolished many historical sites they did not like, Dresden and Potsdam are another example of cities re-built to fit the new ideology. What was East Berlin was full of monuments to the past and it too got the bulldozer treatment. On the other hand Nazi building like the Air Ministry of Herman Goering unscathed by the war were re-used and housed Communist party functionaries and Soviet agents. This building today still stands and houses the German Government Social Services dept. it resembles in its design two buildings in Ottawa on Wellington Street, the West and East Memorial Buildings.
The Danish architectural firm of Dorte Mandrup in Copenhagen is now tasked with building the structure that will house the Exil museum, which aims to portray the history of German exile during the Nazi era. It is estimated that half a million people fled Nazi persecution.
The Anhalter Bahnhof station in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district was one of the most important long-distance train stations in Berlin during the German Empire and the Weimar Republic.
After the rise of the Nazis and Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power in the spring of 1933, many people left the city using this station. People like Thomas Mann, Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Klaus Mann, Lotte Laserstein, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Gropius, Billy Wilder.
From 1942, the Nazis used the station to deport Jews to the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Many of those emigrants were not allowed to work in their new host countries, or banned from practicing their actual professions. In addition to losing their homes, friends and family, they also lost their cultural and professional identity this way. Many became destitute, and were greeted by rejection and animosity in their new homes.
The construction of the museum will largely be financed by private donations, with costs being estimated to run up to €25 to 30 million ($30 to 35 million).
The New Exil Museum in Berlin, schedule to open in 2025.
A piece of news, the Humboldt Forum, the newest museum in Berlin devoted to the ideas of the Humboldt brothers formerly known as the City Palace has opened to the public.
Here is an afternoon picture of the Main Western facing entrance to the Palace. It is located on the Museum Island in central Berlin at the end of Unter den Linden ave. across the street from the Berlin Lutheran Cathedral and all 6 museums. In the background is the Communication tower built by the Communist regime in the 1970’s and Alexander Platz.
The 30 November was my father’s birthday and he would have been 90 this year. He died 5 years ago suddenly in July. His middle name was André though he did not like that name and never used it.
For the Scots it is their Patron Saint Day, and their Official National Day. They have been celebrating for 1000 years with various events like in Glasgow a spectacular torchlight procession through the city’s West End. Towards the north, the Oban Winter Festival is another annual community affair that celebrates Scottish culture on Saint Andrew’s feast day, with a whisky festival, haggis tastings, and performers singing traditional Gaelic and Scots tunes.
This weekend we had mild weather again and Friday was the Vendredi Fou or Black Friday, a phenomenon I still don’t understand but lots of Xmas lights and trees have gone up. Fellow blogger Dr Spo mentioned that one neighbour goes overboard with the lighting decoration each year.
I wonder if it looks like the Imperial Palace in Berlin all up in lights for the Christmas Holiday. This photo of 1905 gives an idea of what it looked like then. This year it is subdued to say the least, the opening of the new museum scheduled for 7 December has been pushed back to the Spring because of the Pandemic and lockdown in Berlin.
For our house I got a simple wreath until after the Birthday of Mr Will when we are authorized to decorate, then we surpass Macy’s. We will have photos on Instagram and on this blog. A lot of people have done early Holiday Season shopping, today I was looking for some lights to put on the wreath (see below) I found them but there was nothing else on the shelves, it sort of looked like panic buying.
Here in Charlottetown at Government House the Official Residence of the Lieutenant Governor of PEI at Fanningbank Estate (1834) the Christmas lights have been turned on. It is all very green given the very mild weather. Usually at this time of the year there would be quite a few official receptions and dinners but this year due to the pandemic everything was cancelled. The Lieutenant Governor follows carefully all the directives issued by the Provincial Chief Medical Officer.
As we enter December, our social calendar is rather quiet compared to previous years, it is to be expected. But we have to make an effort and be positive, the news of new vaccines in the New Year bodes well.
If you plan to fly to Berlin next month you will arrive at the new Berlin Branderburg Airport, BER also known as Willy Brandt Airport, BER. Tegel is closing and already its functions are being transferred ahead of the opening of the new Willy Brandt Airport, BER.
Historically Berlin had 3 airports, Tempelhof the first airport to be build in the South, then Tegel in the North West in 1948 and in East Germany, Schonefeld airport, South East, serving the Communist regime. Berlin being a divided city after 1945 and occupied by the French, British, American and the Soviets everyone got a piece of the cake.
Until 1975 Tempelhof was the West Berlin Airport, after 1975 international traffic was diverted to Tegel, TXL in what was then the French Sector the divided city. Tempelhof handled domestic flights from West Germany.
Tempelhof we know today with its gigantic terminal was built by the Nazi Regime in 1934 as Hitler’s World Capital Airport. After the Second World War in 1948 a new airport was created to handle increasing air traffic and so Tegel was opened. The Tegel airport you see today with its two post modernist Hexagonal terminals was built in the 1960’s and will now become a museum and the air strips will be a large green space.
Tempelhof was closed as an airport in 1996 it became a large green park. The site of the airport was originally Knight Templar land in medieval Berlin, and from this beginning came the name Tempelhof. Later, the site was used as a parade field by Prussian forces from 1720 to the start of World War one. In 1909, Frenchman Armand Zipfel made the first flight demonstration in Tempelhof, followed by Orville Wright later that same year. Tempelhof was first officially designated as an airport on 8 October 1923.The airline Lufthansa was founded in Tempelhof on 6 January 1926.
The old Tempelhof terminal, originally constructed in 1927, became the world’s first with an underground railway station, known as Paradestrasse. Tempelhof was in the American sector of Berlin and was the site of the air bridge during the Cold War.
On 25 October 2020 on the site of the former Schonefeld Airport, in what was East Germany in the Soviet Sector, a brand new terminal will open after major scandals and 11 years of delay and massive cost overruns. It will be the only airport in Berlin and it is hoped it can handle the ever increasing air traffic, though the pandemic has severely cut flights.
BER, Berlin Brandenburg, ” Willy Brandt” Airport, finally opening 25 October 2020.
Our washing machine died with a clunk and a whine last Thursday, we were able to secure a new washing machine almost within one hour. The drawback delivery takes 7 days, oh my! So the clothing has been piling up as well as sheets and towels. We are really dependent on this machine, now we know. But the delivery will be made by Friday so patience and no panic.
I really miss good conversation with friends face to face and the laughs and gossip. Zoom is NOT the same thing.
Scaffolding coming down this week at the main gate portal of the City Palace. Friday is the capping off of the building which can be followed on webcam. Starting at 6 am Berlin time, weather permitting.
For the last few postings I have been writing about the City Palace in Berlin and its final phase of re-construction. You may have wondered why so much interest in this one building. In fact I have been following several other projects in Europe.
One such projects is Buckingham Palace in London, the Official Residence of the Queen. There is little info on what is going on, but it is a major refit of the place from plumbing to electrical system to cleaning and painting and general repairs. Rooms have been dismantled and furniture and paintings removed for safe keeping. The Queen left London because of the pandemic but also because her London Residence was under repair and not fit to live in due to all the noise and workmen etc… Windsor is her real home, private and comfy. She and her husband only live in a suite of rooms in one wing of the Castle and not in the entire place as you might see it from the outside, still it is pretty grand. Many other people live at Windsor in what is term Grace and Favour apartments. The Queen also has other relatives live in London at Kensington Palace and St-James Palace again in apartments, all are at the pleasure of Her Majesty.
Another project is the Alexander Palace built in 1793 in an Italian/Palladian style in Tsarkoye Selo outside St-Petersburg, the work is now reaching completion after many years of complete reconstruction of what was essentially a ruined building. The last private home of Tsar Nicholas II and his wife and children before their arrest and deportation in 1917. This has been a massive work of research and archeology, restoration of furniture, original fabrics, flooring, tiling, etc. all this made possible because of voluminous archives kept on the building. This site has a huge following in Russia and around the world.
The Roman Forum is another place I love to explore and read about, about 95 years ago it became the pet project of Benito Mussolini who poured financial resources and had the best academic work on unearthing this area of what was ancient Rome. To this day several Universities and team of archeologist work for years and sometimes a life time on one area. Even now with the building of the new Metro Line crossing the Forum under Via Dei Fori Imperiali more treasures are discovered. I had the good fortune to visit some of those sites being under study and excavation, it is a real marvel.
While in Beijing, I visited various sites around the former Imperial Capital, temples, palaces and the Forbidden City compound. I lived there about 3 years prior to the Olympics. The City itself was under massive construction and re-building. Entire neighbourhoods of 3 million people each would be vacated in a matter of 48 hours with the help of the Police and Army. The Temple of Heaven and the great park around it was a favourite site. The Communist Party with the increase in tourism re-discovered the roots of Chinese culture and its historical past. So recreation was the name of the game, unfortunately so much had been lost between 1967-1976 under Mao ills advised but politically convenient cultural revolution, that doing studies and repairing the damage proved difficult, so the repairs were done very quickly and often of poor quality. What really mattered to the Communist party was money from Western tourists and pushing a re-written history of China always glorifying the Party and the leadership.
In Jordan, I would visit just outside Amman about 35 km away the antic city of Jerash or Gerasa in the Bible. Built by the Romans and prospering as an important commercial link and military city, the Jordanian Government had archeologists work at restoring the extensive ruined city, its temples and theatres. There was a lot of archeological material artefacts just lying on the ground forgotten by time.
Istanbul and the Topkapi Palace grounds is also well worth exploring and how well preserve it is, including the treasury with its incredible amounts of precious stones. If you take a look in the once private areas you will discover a Polo Pavilion and grounds enjoyed by the Sultan, the entire place as a very Oriental feel. The Turkish people migrated from Central Asia one thousand years ago, keeping their Oriental culture.
I am endlessly fascinated by architecture, archeology and factual history. It has always been a hobby of mine.
For the last few days we have entered into the Phase 2 of re-opening and in a few days 1 June Phase 3 will take place. Meaning that life will return to a NEW normal but we have to keep social distancing and avoid gatherings. Restaurants will re-open for in dining room service but we are not going.
So a few days ago our barber re-opened and lucky us we got an early appointment and after 10 weeks got a haircut. I feel so much better now, more civilized.
We have also been having some warm sunny weather with normals around 18C feeling much warmer in the direct sun light. This week it is going up to 23C which is perfect weather.
Our two little monsters Nicky and Nora are scheduled for the groomer on 15 June, they need a good grooming. They also need their annual shots and the Vet has been called for an appointment. I also hope to have our winter tires removed this week, I usually do that around 15 April but it was not possible given the situation.
Will is making amongst other bake goods, Peanut Butter Bread, he is also looking at a recipe for Orange grind bread from 1932 when people used up everything eatable so not to waste food. He made yesterday some wonderful sausage rolls, and puff pastry dessert with apples, brown sugar, butter, almonds raisins and pears, a nice combination.
We are also thinking of preparing our flower boxes for our terrace and this is a project for June when the weather will be warm and nights in the 15C range.
So lots going on.
I leave you here with a photo of the 16 ton Lantern which will be installed on top the dome of the City Palace Berlin (AKA Humboldt Forum) this coming Friday 29 June according to a story in the Berliner MorgenPost.
This photo is around 1920 in Berlin, showing a man in the Lantern looking across to the Lutheran Cathedral of Berlin and the Museums. The winged angels are life size. The dome of the Cathedral appears as it was then before its destruction in 1944. The dome today is more modern in design.
Telling the stories of the history of the port of Charlottetown and the marine heritage of Northumberland Strait on Canada's East Coast. Winner of the Heritage Award from the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and a Heritage Preservation Award from the City of Charlottetown