Every day I peruse various German language sites to read and look at pictures of the reconstruction of the City Palace in Berlin now called the Humboldt Forum. One major element is missing and will be put into place in the next few weeks, that is the lantern on top of the dome of the palace.
The Palace was first started as a Residence in 1445 to house the Prince Elector of Brandenburg, then in 1701 Frederick I crowned himself King in Prussia (not of) to avoid antagonizing more powerful rulers and proclaimed his lands as the new Kingdom of Prussia. Then in 1870 Wilhelm I was proclaimed Emperor of Germany at the Palace of Versailles following his victory in the Franco-Prussian War, a war started by the machinations of Chancellor Bismarck which was supported secretly by Queen Victoria. His grandson Wilhelm II will as of 1890 remodel the palace and enlarge it into a grander palace. The Palace was used mostly as an Official Residence in Berlin, the ruler and the Hohenzollern family lived in Potsdam 28 Km from Berlin.
In November 1918 the Palace was attacked after the Kaiser abdicated and left in exile for for the Netherlands. In 1944-45 it was badly bombed and burnt and the Communist of East Germany demolished it in 1958 wanting to erase any trace of the former Kingdom of Prussia.
In 1999 Wilhelm Von Boddien a business man and culture buff suggested to friends that the palace should be rebuilt with public donations and government monies. One part of the site was occupied by the now defunct East German Parliament. He proposed to reclaim all the land once occupied by the City Palace and rebuild the palace as it was on the outside in the baroque style so it would match the rest of the neighbourhood and make of the palace inside a modern forum for world civilization along the ideas of german philosopher Humboldt and his brother. This project fitted into the new philosophy of the German Federal Republic of promoting the ideas of the age of Enlightenment.
The now demolished former GDR Parliament with the huge parking lot in front on the site occupied by the City Palace.
So in the Fall of 2020 the rebuilt palace will open to the public in its new vocation as a centre for world civilization and Berlin’s City Library, Conference Centre, University learning centre and restaurant. I wonder if they will invite HIH Prince Georg Frederich of Prussia who is head of the Hohenzollern Dynasty. Will have to wait and see.
Here are photos of the Lantern to be installed on the top of the dome this month.
The Lantern is made of Bronze and Copper, it cost 19 million Euros to rebuilt it, all from individual private donation. It is 25 feet in height, it has a religious symbolism to it because the dome use to house the Lutheran Chapel of the Palace. The dome itself was surrounded by statues of Old Testament Prophets. The angels support the crown which is palm leafs and the cross in bronze. Under the Monarchy, the Kaiser was also head of the Lutheran Church.
The inside of the dome Chapel in 1900, none of this will be recreated in the rebuilt palace. The use of this space is not clear at this time.
Inside the dome currently, it appears that it will remain this way, the room below the suspended ceiling can be used for exhibits.
The Bronze Lantern in pieces waiting to be assembled and installed on top of the dome.
The dome 37 metres in height itself covered in its new copper sheeting. Originally the German Federal Government was only willing to pay for a plain dome of metal sheeting. Again the public stepped in and enough donations were received to have copper with the Oeil de boeuf installed all around. In total so far the public around the world has given 125 million Euros for this reconstruction. The total cost of rebuilding the City Palace is 750 Million Euros. It is the largest construction project in Germany today.
The Western facade Portal III (main gate of the City palace)
The South facade of the City Palace across the street from the German Foreign Ministry.
I really want to return to Berlin to see this and other sites in the reborn city.