French Friedrichstadtkirche

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Main entrance to the church, seen from the west

The French Friedrichstadtkirche is a church on the Gendarmenmarkt in Friedrichstadt in the Berlin district of Mitte in the district of the same name . It was built at the beginning of the 18th century by the Berlin Huguenot community . It is structurally connected to the French Cathedral , a tower built almost a hundred years later. Today the church is used by the French Church in Berlin and also by the local Protestant community as a place of worship.


Construction of the church and the French cathedral

French Friedrichstadtkirche, 1740

The 6,000 or so French religious refugees who had come to Berlin with immigrants from Bohemia , Palatinate and Salzburg , built their homes, as well as religious and welfare buildings, for the most part in Friedrichstadt. They collected donations for the construction of a church and then had the French Friedrichstadtkirche designed by the builder Jean Louis Cayart (1645–1702) and completed by Abraham Quesnay (1666–1726). The Prussian King Friedrich I provided some building materials . Most of the construction work was carried out by the very skilled Huguenots themselves. The foundation stone was laid on July 1, 1701 and the church consecrated on March 1, 1705 . It is not finally clear whether the church was built on the model of the main Huguenot church in Charenton-le-Pont near Paris.

The name of the church, originally Temple de la Friedrichstadt or French Church on Friedrichstadt , testifies to its Reformed character, as it is named not after a person, but after the users and the location. The first Reformed congregation in Berlin and Cölln was before the Huguenots emerged immigration after Elector of Brandenburg John Sigismund in 1613 to Calvinism had converted; since 1632 she used the Lutheran cathedral in what was then Cölln. Starting in 1695, construction of the first own church began, which, however, dragged on, the Parochialkirche , which was only consecrated in 1705 (also known as the French Church in Klosterstrasse or French Monastery Church). In the case of the Friedrichswerder Church (Temple du Werder) , which was inaugurated by Huguenots on May 16, 1701 - albeit only as a simultaneous church - and other French churches that were built in Berlin soon afterwards, the place name is also part of the name of the church, for example the one built in 1728 in Kommandantenstrasse French Luisenstadtkirche (Temple de la Louisenstadt) .

At the instigation of the Prussian King Frederick II, a large tower was built on the east side of the church in 1785 , which is known as the French Cathedral because of its imposing dome . Often the entire building is called this. Frederick II gave the Huguenots a free right to use this non-sacred building for all time. In the 19th century, the French cathedral school was located in the rooms of the tower . Since 1935 the tower has housed the Huguenot Museum, which was housed on the lower floor of the Friedrichstadtkirche from 1983 to 1987 during the restoration of the tower.

Remodeling in 1905, destruction in 1944, reconstruction 1978–1983

After exactly 200 years of existence of the church in 1905, both the structure and the interior were redesigned in neo-baroque style according to plans by Otto March . This included the relocation of the entrance, which had previously been in the south, to the west and thus a change in an east-west direction. The pulpit was moved to a new location in the east, where it still stands today. The conversion was documented as a gable inscription above the entrance portal:

"Honor to God, blessing the community, built under the protection of the Hohenzollern in 1705, again in 1905"

A carved, symbolic royal crown was allowed to be attached above the pulpit as a further picture ornament, which - as today's historians read out - expressed thanks to the Hohenzollerns who had offered the displaced persons in Berlin asylum. The tower, which was expanded inside in 1929/1930, housed the Erman Hall and, from 1931, the Huguenot Museum . For the 250th anniversary in 1935, a plaque with the figure of Calvin was placed on the outside wall of the French church. Such a plaque is now also attached to the rebuilt church.

Front view and floor plan of the church on a bronze plaque to the left of the entrance. Created in 1985 using driving technology and applied font in the
Achim Kühn workshop studio

During the Second World War on May 7, 1944, a direct hit destroyed the nave down to the surrounding walls during an air raid by the Allies ; the tower dome burned on May 24, 1944. The floors below remained relatively undamaged because of the concrete ceiling that was drawn in in 1931. From 1944 to 1982, the services of the French Reformed congregation took place there in the Erman Hall, which was converted into a church. The rescued holdings of the Huguenot Museum could be exhibited again after the end of the war, and the valuable library was also preserved.

In 1978, Richard Paulick began rebuilding the burnt-out nave based on the neo-baroque model from 1905. Paulick put in a false ceiling that divided the church space into the upper church hall and a generally usable lower floor. For this purpose, a double flight of stairs had to be built and the organ that had previously been above the pulpit had to be moved to the west gallery. The organ, which is based on the French Baroque, was created by the Bautzen organ builder, Eule .

Friedrichstadtkirche with the French Cathedral behind it, 1985

At Easter 1983 the church was reopened with a service. On the outside of the church there is a plaque with the inscription:

“French Friedrichstadtkirche
built 1701–1705 by
J. Cayart and A. Quesney.
Renewed in 1905 according to plans by O. March
Destroyed in World War II 1944
Built 1978–1983 “
[Note: Abraham Quesnay's name is misspelled on the board.]

Church building


The French Friedrichstadtkirche is an oval building stretched in north-south direction with semicircular cones on the narrow sides. The entrance is via a flight of stairs in the west, in the east the church has an extension with service rooms. Here it is connected to the French Cathedral, a tower that was added later.

inner space

Interior with organ above the entrance area

In accordance with the Reformed understanding of worship, the baroque interior (as a hall church) is kept simple. The room is dominated by the pulpit on the east side, the place of the Annunciation , underneath is the simple communion table with the Bible, there is no altar. Since there is also a ban on images in the Reformed tradition , there is neither a pictorial representation nor a cross in the church.


Organ case

An exception is the organ built in 1754/1755 with its gold-leaf carving and the halo - firstly because there is an organ at all (according to the doctrine there should only be the psalm song of the community without instrumental accompaniment), and secondly because the halo was accepted as an ornament, which is the usual representation of the eye of God for the baroque period. This God's sun eye has been a widespread symbol since ancient Egyptian times, which was also used by the Freemasons and which later became a symbol of the new openness of society during the French Revolution . This ornament on the organ is the only original preserved piece of equipment in the church because it was dismantled during the attacks on Berlin during the Second World War and stored in a safe place.

This first organ was built by Leopold Christian Schmaltz in 1754–1755 with around 20 stops on two manuals and a pedal . In 1905 the instrument in the case from 1755 was rebuilt by the organ builders Gebrüder Dinse . The organ was largely destroyed in the Second World War. After the church was rebuilt, a new organ was installed in 1985 by the organ building company Hermann Eule from Bautzen . While the organ case could be reconstructed based on the historical model, there was insufficient material for a reconstruction of the disposition . It was therefore redesigned with a view to presenting French organ music from the 18th century. The instrument has two manuals and pedals with 31 registers (including six extendierte register) on abrasive loading . The playing and stop actions are mechanical. The first manual is a coupling manual (size: C – a 3 ).

II main work C – a 3
01. Bourdon 16 ′
02. Montre 08th'
03. Bourdon 08th'
04th Prestant 04 ′
05. Fifth 02 23
06th Duplicate 02 ′
07th Larigot 01 13
08th. Cornet (from a 0 ) V 08th'
09. Fittings IV 01'
10. Trumpets 08th'
11. Voix humaine 08th'
12. Clairon 04 ′
Tremblant doux
III Positive C – a 3
13. Bourdon doux 8th'
14th Salicional 8th'
15th Prestant 4 ′
16. Flute 4 ′
17th Nazard 2 23
18th Flageolet 2 ′
19th Tierce 1 35
20th Sifflet 1'
21st Cimbale III 23
22nd Cromorne 8th'
Tremblant doux
Pedal C – f 1 (extensions up to f 3 )
23. Grand Bourdon 16 ′
24. Bourdon (Ext. No. 23) 08th'
25th Flute 08th'
26th Prestant (Ext. No. 25) 04 ′
27. Flûte (Ext. No. 23) 04 ′
28. Octavin (Ext. No. 25) 02 ′
29 Bombard 16 ′
30th Trumpet (Ext. No. 29) 08th'
31. Clairon (Ext. No. 29) 04 ′
  • Coupling : II / P, III / P (as moves and kicks in interaction).
  • Playing aids : Step “tongues on” and “tongues off” (collective move for all tongue registers except Voix humaine 8 ′).
  • Remarks
  1. In the prospectus.
  2. Benched.
  3. C – H together with Bourdon doux 8 ′.
  4. Full length.


Gable of the church

In the 21st century, three Christian communities use the church:

  • The French Reformed Huguenot congregation , the French Church in Berlin , is the largest congregation in the Reformed Church District of the Berlin-Brandenburg State Church , as a personal congregation with around 1200 congregation members who live all over Berlin and the surrounding area . From 1970 to 1994 Horsta Krum was her pastor.
  • The local community of the Evangelical Church Community in Friedrichstadt . It belongs to the church district of Berlin Stadtmitte and emerged from the Dorotheenstädtische, Dreifaltigkeit- and Friedrichswerder parishes, all of which no longer exist or can not be used for religious purposes. During the services of this Lutheran congregation, a cross is then on the sacrament table.
  • Since 1997 the Communauté protestante francophone belonging to the French Church , a French-speaking Protestant community that arose after 1945 for the French occupation troops stationed in Berlin, every Sunday the Georges Casalis Hall in the lower part of the church.

Services are celebrated weekly on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. by the local evangelical congregation and at 11 a.m. by the French Church and the Communauté Francophone.

For some time now, the Evangelical Academy in Berlin , which is located in the opposite building on the corner of Charlottenstrasse and Jägerstrasse, has also been using the basement of the French Friedrichstadtkirche as a conference center. A restaurant completes the use. In addition, the Church is open to other events that do not conflict with the dignity of the house and its particular Reformed tradition.


  • Eckart Birnstiel: The Huguenots in Berlin. A congregation in search of its church . In: Rudolf von Thadden , Michelle Magdelaine (ed.): The Huguenots. 1685-1985 . Beck, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-406-30605-5 , pp. 115-126.
  • Institute for Monument Preservation (Ed.): The architectural and art monuments in the GDR. Capital Berlin I . 2nd edition Henschelverlag, Berlin 1984.
  • Sibylle Badstübner-Gröger: The French Cathedral in Berlin. The Christian monument. Issue 122 . Union, Berlin 1984.
  • Götz Eckardt (ed.): Fates of German architectural monuments in the Second World War. A documentation of the damage and total losses in the area of ​​the German Democratic Republic. Volume 1. Berlin - capital of the GDR, districts Rostock, Schwerin, Neubrandenburg, Potsdam, Frankfurt / Oder, Cottbus, Magdeburg . Henschel, Berlin 1980, p. 6 f. (with pictures).
  • History of the French Church in Berlin (Huguenot Church) 1672–1955 . In: Bruno Botta (ed.): The Huguenots and Berlin-Brandenburg. Ed. Z. Huguenot meeting in Berlin in 1971 . Haude and Spener, Berlin 1971, ISBN 3-7759-0139-6 , pp. 43–56.

Web links

Commons : French Friedrichstadtkirche  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Festschrift 250.  Return of the Huguenots ' admission , 1935; P. 31
  2. Information about the organ on the website of the French Friedrichstadtkirche . Accessed March 27, 2019.
  3. Information about the organ on the website of Hermann Eule Orgelbau . Accessed March 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Pape, Uwe (2003). Orgeln in Berlin , pp. 51–57. Berlin: Pape Verlag.
  5. ^ Pape, Uwe (1997). Hermann Eule Orgelbau 1872–1997: A contribution to the history of organ building in Saxony , pp. 162–163. Berlin: Pape Verlag.

Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 52 ″  N , 13 ° 23 ′ 31 ″  E