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Köpenick Palace

  • Schlosspark Köpenick
  • Schloss Köpenick
  • Schloss Köpenick glänzt in alter Pracht
  • Köpenick

    Schloss Köpenick

  • Schloss Köpenick
  • Schloss Köpenick

Köpenick Palace is the most important preserved palace from the reign of the Hohenzollerns. The impressive building on the waterfront is worth the trip to the outskirts of Berlin

Köpenick Palace is surrounded by water, located in the center of the Köpenick district in southeast Berlin. The palace is a unique testimony to the time of the Great Elector (1620-1688) and the most important preserved palace built for the Hohenzollern dynasty during his reign. Köpenick Palace is part of the historic old town of Köpenick.

Unchanged since its construction, the Dutch Baroque style palace is also an example of the formative influence of the Netherlands at the end of the 17th century. Inside the palace, precious showpieces from the Hohenzollern treasure are on display.

Construction of Köpenick Palace

The palace was built between 1677 and 1690 for the heir to the throne of the Great Elector, Frederick III (1657-1713), after his marriage to Elisabeth Henriette of Hesse-Kassel (1661-83). Already of considerable size for the time, the palace had actually been intended to be even more imposing. The Köpenick Island on the Dahme River was chosen as the building site, on which the Ascanians had already built a castle around 1240 after their victory over the Slavs. Elector Joachim II had his largest hunting lodge built on the same site in 1558-71. A hundred years later, the two eldest sons of the Great Elector received the estate on the outskirts of the city of Köpenick.

Architecture of Köpenick Palace

The Dutch master builder Rutger van Langervelt created a tall, three-story building, whose facade decoration is limited to the central risalites, which were emphasized and framed by mighty Tuscan pilasters and segmental arched gables. In the gable relief facing the courtyard, Adonis and Venus can be seen on either side of the electoral crown. The three sandstone figures on the pediment represent Mercury, Venus and Mars. The pediment relief on the water front shows Diana and Endymion. Apollo, Hercules and Diana are enthroned above them. On the courtyard side, columns flank the portal, and the carving on the oak doors shows two eagles.

Köpenick Palace Waterfront

The main work of the Dutch architect undoubtedly unfolds its strongest effect towards the water side.There is also a balcony on this side. Van Langervelt placed a French mansard roof on the castle. The platform at a lofty height with a wooden balustrade, as Theodor Fontane recounts, is said to have been used by the court society as a bowling alley.

Expansion of the Palace

The extension of the palace was to start at the bare building front to the left of the main entrance. However, the project of a palace with three wings, for which the young architect Johann Arnold Nering (1659-95) was engaged, came to a standstill when the life of the elector took a fateful turn. His wife Elisabeth Henriette died in 1683 at the age of only 22. Shorty after, in May 1688, the Great Elector also died, and Frederick became sovereign. Köpenick completely disappeared from view when his second wife Sophie Charlotte had her summer residence built in today's Charlottenburg. Despite the adverse circumstances, Nering was able to make his contribution to Köpenick Palace. He realized the portal building at the palace bridge (1682) and the small, two-story gallery on the north side of the complex (1688).

Palace Church

Nering also designed the palace church, which was built opposite the palace, flanked by two simple farm buildings. Consecrated on January 6, 1685, the chapel is the only one of Nering's creations that has been preserved unchanged. The sacred building with its striking roof consisting of a lantern, a hood and a golden crown marked a surprisingly early turn towards the artistically lighter and more refined Baroque style. Nering broke new aesthetic ground with the three high, slender round-arched windows, combined with four Ionic pilasters. Continuing above the attic, they are crowned by the four evangelists. To the right and left at the corners of the building are Moses and Aaron.

Interior of the Palace Church

Allegories of the virtues of faith and love lean against the portal gable. The pulpit is in the form of a chalice, the central symbol of the Protestant faith. Above the pulpit is the marble bust of the Elector Princess Elisabeth Henriette. Initially intended only for the Calvinist castle congregation, the chapel was soon open to Huguenots as well. The Protestant-Reformed religious refugees from France settled in Köpenick from 1688.

Baroque Art in Köpenick Palace

Since the palace was spared from bombing during the Second World War, the baroque room decorations are almost completely preserved. The 29 plafonds were designed by stucco artists from Ticino and Grisons. The artist Giovanni Caroveri is known by name. The ceiling paintings by Jacques Vaillant, created between 1684 and 1690, show motifs from ancient mythology. In keeping with the palace's use as a hunting lodge, Diana, Goddess of the hunt, is usually the focus.

Coat of Arms Hall

The Coat of Arms Hall on the second floor is one of the most outstanding spatial creations in the Berlin-Brandenburg region. With lush Baroque imagery, Caroveri staged the territorial grandeur of the Electorate in 1685. The shields of the then-associated lands and free cities decorate the room. On each of the walls, two pilasters bear a coat of arms above their heads. Above the two chimneys, the coat of arms of the Electorate of Brandenburg is held by wild men. With the heraldic design, the elector made clear his hegemonic claims in the smoldering dispute over the inheritance of the state. Today, an opulent dinner service from the reign of Frederick the Great, made by the Royal Porcelain Manufacture in 1767, is on show in the hall.

Royal Drama at Köpenick Palace

The Coat of Arms Hall was also the scene of a royal drama. At the end of October 1730, the Prussian court martial convened here. Three officers were accused of desertion. In the militaristic Prussia, desertion was a sin punished by hanging or death by the sword. Among the young men caught on the run was Crown Prince Frederick. The 18-year-old soldier, who later became King Frederick "the Great", suffered under his disciplinarian father since childhood. Monotonous discipline, despotic drill and public humiliation had driven him to flee in August 1730 - his destination was the English royal family. The heir to the throne, a deserter! The disgrace for the so-called "soldier king" could not have been greater. But to execute a crown prince? The court of high military officers balked at such a sentence, but King Frederick William I reacted indignantly and harshly. His son Frederick and his deserter friend Hans Hermann von Katte were imprisoned at he fortress of Küstrin. On November 6, 1730, the firing squad was ready: von Katte was executed in front of his closest friend. Prince Friedrich had to watch the violent death of a loved one but was spared himself.

Exhibitions and Attractions at Köpenick Palace

An exhibition in the palace, which has been a museum of arts and crafts since 1963, is devoted to the creative achievements of the artists and craftspeple in the service of their rulers. In addition to furniture, tapestries and art objects from the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo periods, the exhibition also includes complete wooden room panels from other castles. Valuable rococo-style dinner services from the estate of Frederick the Great are also on display in Köpenick Palace. The palace garden, laid out in 1690 in the baroque style, today presents itself in the style of the 1960s with numerous sculptures. It features a café in a beautiful waterside location.


Map view

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City map

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Alt-Köpenick 1
12557 Berlin
Opening Hours
October-March: Thursday to Sunday from 11 AM till 5 PM
April-September: Tuesday to Sunday from 11 AM till 6 PM
The palace is wheelchair accessible.
Admission Fee
€6, reduced fee €3
Book tickets online
Guided Tours
Tours available by appointment.

Public transportation

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Last edited: 8 April 2022