The electors’ residence

The elector Friedrich Wilhelm, painting by Jacques Vaillant
Bild: Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg


Administration and control of the Mark is given to the Burgrave of Nuremberg, the Hohenzollern Friedrich VI, initiating 500 years of Hohenzollern rule in Berlin. At the Council of Constance in 1415, King Sigismund elevates him to the rank of Elector and Margrave of Brandenburg as Friedrich I.


Berlin and Cölln merge to form a single municipality. The elector Friedrich II puts an end to this joint administration in 1442 in the interest of expanding his own powers.


The foundation stone of what will become Berlin’s City Palace is laid on the “Spree island” in Cölln. Construction and reconstruction continue until 1716, when the building takes its final form.


The elector Johann Cicero makes the palace in Cölln the permanent residence of the Brandenburg electors of the Hohenzollerns. Becoming the seat of the ruler boosts the city’s political significance, but also entails a loss of its freedoms.


Berlin and Cölln have a population of around 12,000.


Reformation in Brandenburg: on November 1, for the first time, the elector Joachim II takes communion according to Lutheran rites in Spandau’s St. Nicholas church. The town council and the citizens of Berlin/Cölln follow his example a day later in a public ceremony. In the summer of 1540, the Reformation is made binding by a new church ordinance for all of Brandenburg.


The inn “Zum Nussbaum” opens in Cölln on the southern tip of Fisher Island (Fischerinsel) in a building that was destroyed in 1943. As Berlin’s oldest recorded inn, it is reconstructed from 1986 to 1987 in the Nikolaiviertel.


An avenue is laid out between the City Palace and the Tiergarten, the elector’s hunting preserve west of the city, and is later known as Unter den Linden.


By the end of the Thirty Years’ War, the population of Berlin/Cölln has dropped by half to 6,000.


Until 1683, Berlin and Cölln are built up to create a fortress in the form of a star with 13 bastions. Remains of these fortifications can still be seen near the Märkisches Museum.


Berlin’s Jewish community is founded. By 1700 it has grown to a total of more than a thousand people and 114 families. One year later, the Huguenot community is founded with an initial 100 members. By 1677, the community numbers more than 700.


Friedrich Wilhelm, the Great Elector, issues the Edict of Potsdam. Many of the Huguenots being persecuted in France for their faith move to Berlin and Mark Brandenburg. Starting as early as 1661, the Great Elector issued a number of edicts easing restrictions on immigration for new settlers and people suffering religious persecution.

La Vigne map of Berlin from 1688
Bild: Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin/Seifert


The population reaches 20,000. Thanks to the many immigrants, trade and the economy experience sustained growth.


The elector Friedrich III has a palace built for his wife, Sophie Charlotte, west of Berlin/Cölln near Lietzenburg. After her death in 1705, it is renamed Charlottenburg Palace.

The Hohenzollerns in Berlin

  • Elector Friedrich I of Brandenburg (1371-1440), elector from 1415 to 1440
  • Friedrich II (“the Iron”) (1413-1471), elector from 1440 to 1470
  • Albrecht Achilles (1414-1486), elector from 1470 to 1486
  • Johann Cicero (1455-1499), elector from 1486 to 1499
  • Joachim I Nestor (1484-1535), elector from 1499 to 1535
  • Joachim II Hektor (1505-1571), elector from 1535 to 1571
  • Johann Georg (1525-1598), elector from 1571 to 1598
  • Joachim Friedrich (1546-1608), elector from 1598 to 1608
  • Johann Sigismund (1572-1619), elector from 1608 to 1619
  • Georg Wilhelm (1595-1640), elector from 1619 to 1640
  • Friedrich Wilhelm (1620-1688), “the Great Elector,” elector from 1640 to 1688
  • Friedrich III (1657-1713), elector from 1688 – 1701, then king until 1713 as Friedrich I
  • Friedrich Wilhelm I, “the Soldier King“ (1688-1740), king from 1713 to 1740
  • Friedrich II, “the Great” (1712-1786), king from 1740 to 1786
  • Friedrich Wilhelm II, “fat William” (1744-1797), king from 1786 to 1797
  • Friedrich Wilhelm III (1770-1840), king from 1797 to 1840
  • Friedrich Wilhelm IV (1795-1861), king from 1840 to 1858
  • Wilhelm I (1797-1888), regent 1858 – 1861, king 1861 – 1888, emperor 1871 – 1888
  • Friedrich III (1831-1888), king and emperor 1888
  • Wilhelm II (1859-1941), king and emperor from 1888 to 1918