Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom), completed in 1905, is Berlin's largest and most important Protestant church as well as the sepulchre of the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty. This outstanding high-renaissance baroque monument has linked the Hohenzollerns to German Protestantism for centuries and undergone renewed phases of architectural renovation since the Middle Ages. First built in 1465 as a parish church on the Spree River it was only finally completed in 1905 under the last German Kaiser -Wilhelm II. Damaged during the Second World War it remained closed during the GDR years and reopened after restoration in 1993.
The East Side Tour focuses on the best-known sights along the river Spree in the eastern part of Berlin and includes some highlights in the government quarter as well.
The "old" Cathedral at Lustgarten
The "old" Cathedral at Lustgarten was initially constructed between 1747 and 1750 under Friedrich the Great (1740-1786) as a baroque church in accordance with Knobelsdorff’s plans by Johann Boumann. From 1817 to 1822 Karl Friedrich Schinkel redesigned it but the Cathedral retained its stylistic similarity to the high-renaissance baroque architecture of St. Peter's Cathedral in Rome. Finally, official plans reconciling the different stages and stylistic developments were presented by Julius Rashdorff in 1885 to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. When Wilhelm II ascended the throne in 1888 he authorised the demolition of the "old" Cathedral and the construction, began in 1893, of the much larger, imposing present Berliner Dom.
Heavily damaged during the war, and closed until 1993, cycles of restoration have continued until 2006 including the unveiling of eight mosaics which decorate the dome's ceiling. The outer dome structure was rebuilt with a simplified cupola and spires between 1975 and 1982. During the many years of division the original parishioners – over 12,000 in the 19th century - were divided into two separate parishes. It was only in 1980 that the parishioners were able to celebrate mass again and that baptism and funerals were carried out.
Berlin Cathedral contains the tombs of members of the House of Hohenzollern
Known as the Hohenzollern family tomb, over ninety sarcophagi and tombs are on display including those of the Prussian Kings – Friedrich I and Sophie Charlotte, by Andreas Schlüter, impressively cast in gold-plated tin and lead.
Other important works of art are the baptismal font by Christian Daniel Rauch and the Petrus mosaic by Guido Reni. The Dome's organ with over 7000 pipes is a masterpiece and one of the largest in Germany. A visit to the Dome requires climbing 270 steps but the viewing gallery is worth it for great views of Mitte. The 114m-high Dome is sided by four towers and the interior is rich with New Testament and Reformation period elements.
The Dome is a well frequented venue for concerts and readings. Guided tours are available. The entrance fee includes autoguides in a variety of languages.