The Friedrichswerdersche church is a monument on the Werder market in the Berlin district of Mitte . Built on behalf of the Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm in the years 1824–1831 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the neo-Gothic style , it was the first representative brick building since the Middle Ages to attract great attention. After severe damage in World War II , the single-nave, double-towered sacred building was reconstructed from 1982 to 1987 . The altar , the pulpit and the colored glass windows inside still remind of the original use as a Protestant church . The Friedrichswerder Church is currently closed for restoration and should again be home to the collections of the Alte Nationalgalerie from mid-2020 .
The first baroque city expansion of Berlin began around 1658 on an island on the left arm of the Spree , known as “der Werder” . In honor of the Great Elector , the area was named Friedrichswerder in 1660 . After this area was raised to the third independent municipality next to Berlin and Cölln , and the construction of the town hall, begun in 1673, was completed in 1678, the need for a separate church for this municipality was recognized. In addition, a French Reformed congregation had existed here since 1685, the members of which lived mainly in Friedrichswerder and which also needed a church.
In 1699, the German Lutheran and Calvinist (Reformed) congregations and the French Reformed congregation were allocated a building for common use ( Simultankirche ), known as the “electoral long stable building” or riding house . This building was rebuilt around 1648 after it had previously been completely derelict. This was a very long (288 feet, approx. 90.4 m) but narrow building that was oriented in a north-south direction due to the development of the area. In 1700/1701 Giovanni Simonetti realized a design by the building director Martin Grünberg for the conversion as a double church. The Calvinist French-speaking community was housed in the northern part and the German-speaking communities in the southern part. The opening ceremony in French took place on May 16, that in German on July 12, 1701.
Now the former riding house was a two-storey, sober functional building , only slightly loosened up by pilaster strips . The high gable roof was interrupted by an unfinished tower, under which there was a central projection. This also documented the separation into two different communities to the outside world. In 1801 the tower construction was completed. In 1806, French occupation soldiers camped in the church. In 1809 the first elections according to the Prussian city order took place here. After 1817 the two German-speaking communities had united within the framework of the Prussian Union . The French congregation remained denominationally Calvinist, but organizationally, like the other two congregations, also joined the Evangelical Church in Prussia . Around 1819 the generally poor condition of the building, which was partially in danger of collapsing, was to be restored through a comprehensive renovation. However, a new building in the same place was already being considered at that time.
Schinkel received the order for a new building from Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm . He presented several classicist designs, including the basic form of a Roman temple or a pillar church with four domes, but could not convince the client. The Crown Prince requested a building in the "medieval style", out of a romantic inclination and because, according to the official explanation, this style fits better "into this somewhat narrower area of the city, which is closer to the ancient due to the irregularity of its streets".
Planning the church
Schinkel's development plan
In 1817, Schinkel, as the head of the Prussian Supreme Building Deputation, presented a large development plan covering almost half of the city . In it, instead of a double church for two parishes, he suggested the construction of two symmetrically adjacent churches. These were to be erected to the east of the previous building on the site of the Old Packhof , which was to be relocated to the north. The Berlin Building Academy was later built on this square . Only the floor plans of these planned churches are known.
With this development plan, Schinkel tried to combine the effect of the existing development with the new and planned. It was important to him to decisively improve the previous irregular development of the Friedrichswerder area and to allow a clear relationship to the Lustgarten and its peripheral development.
“The very lively area between Schloßplatz and Friedrichsstadt can gain the long-desired order and beauty through the furnishings specified in the plan and completely lose the even often life-threatening confinement. Should the bad buildings of the current Friedrich-Werderscher churches be given the specified place, the perspective from the dog bridge [note: later castle bridge ] would be of the greatest effect. "
The basic ideas of this plan to provide the area of the street Unter den Linden , the places at the arsenal and the Lindenoper over the dog bridge with the Lustgarten and the Berlin Palace as well as the Friedrichstadt with a continuous connection, were realized in the coming years. However, the two proposed churches were not built.
The court building inspector Johann Gottlieb Schlaetzer and the classical scholar Aloys Hirt submitted drafts for a new building for the Friedrichswerder church at the end of 1820. Schinkel, as the planner, assessed these designs very critically in an expert report. He developed an independent, very clear draft, which he contrasted on a drawing sheet together with the submitted.
He attached his pen-drafted proposal to his report. He described it as follows:
“In terms of the style of architecture, we followed the genus of temple buildings, which is called pseudoperipteros after Vitruvius , where the architecture of the free-standing portico at the gable is continued by half-columns on the sides of the building. One of the most beautiful monuments of antiquity served us partly as a model, the so-called Maison Carrée zu Nîmes […] The whole inner space of the church is lit by a suitable number of large windows that are not too high . With ancient-style buildings, a tower building is difficult to associate well. In the plan, the construction of the tower is taken into account, but it would in any case be better if it were omitted and placed in isolation near the building in the manner of the Italian bell towers, so that much more space would be gained in the church. For this reason, the tower is drawn on a separate sheet of paper and in the plan of the entire square around the church there are three places where this tower could stand. "
The king and the responsible building ministry rejected all designs in this style.
The building project was suspended until 1822 after the antiquing designs were rejected. Schinkel submitted a new proposal, of which no explanations or files have survived. Now he favored a four-bay pillar church with a round dome per bay and a semicircular final choir. The opposite side of the main entrance was from a high portal in to the main cornice reaching Konche dominated. The associated bell tower was to be designed as a four-story, massive campanile . Particularly noteworthy is the pubic wall , which appears again and again in later designs , which connects the tower and nave. The interior would be dominated by the structure of the mighty wall pillars and the resulting partitioned domes, which in turn develop their effect through galleries on Ionic columns.
Construction experts agree that this building, and especially the campanile, determined the view of the quarter. It would have been a successful addition to the new building of the Prussian Mint built by Heinrich Gentz in 1798–1800 , a downright majestic work of Berlin classicism .
Schinkel worked out this proposal in great detail, so that it seemed advisable to publish this extremely successful design in issue 8 of his collection of architectural designs in 1826 . There he wrote the following about it:
“The location of the building site, as it was determined in a higher place, gave rise to the present arrangement of the building. Enclosed on three sides by narrow streets, in which a rich architecture would be inedible, the building has been given a very simple exterior, which the only very modest extent of the whole called for even more. The fourth side of the gable with the large entrance gate faces the market and in order to give this front more importance, the inner vault of the building is indicated externally in its entirety by a deep niche, in the background of which the large entrance gate, in its wings richly adorned, cast in bronze, surrounded by marble paneling, inserted [...] The prescribed building site, which did not allow for any expansion in width as in length, is divided so that the vault of the church consists of four adjacent domes cut off by strong arches between whose abutment pillars on the two long sides upstairs churches are inserted in the column construction [...] The arched panes on the two long walls provide enough space for simple large windows to be installed at an appropriate height [...] The lower walls are made of marble paneling and the column worked with their entablature in white marble. A bell tower should be listed in isolation in an empty corner of the market because neither the limited building space nor the style of the building allowed a direct connection with it. "
1822–1823 was King Friedrich Wilhelm III. from Prussia on a longer stay in Italy. Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm (from 1840 King Friedrich Wilhelm IV. ), Who was also interested in the medieval-Gothic architectural style due to romantic-feudal inclinations, used this to motivate Schinkel to renew plans for a church on Werderscher Markt and this at the same time with his desire for the " Medieval style ”. Schinkel took up this idea in mid-1823 and sketched his first thoughts in the form of medieval English chapels. He relied on literature recommended by the Crown Prince, such as The architectural antiques of Great Britain by John Brittons and Cathedrals antiques by the same author, as well as other publications. In these sketches he tried his hand at the proportions and design elements. The double tower façade, the window with the large rose window and the double portal appeared for the first time.
Schinkel developed this idea into a first draft. In doing so, he took into account the special situation of the two parishes. For the growing German community, he designed a monumental-looking structure, but wanted to leave the northern part of the riding house, which is clearly visible on the sketch, for the shrinking French community. Despite the tightness on site, the new building to be built was to encompass three bays and show a double tower facade at the north and south end as well as an economical use of decorative accessories. The most important new idea, however, was the absolutely consistent use of bricks and terracotta for the facades.
Schinkel explained this draft on March 2, 1824:
“In this somewhat narrower area of the city, which is approaching the ancient due to the irregularity of its streets, a church in the medieval style should be in its place. However, since the construction site is not very large, it would not be advisable to follow the plan of large cathedrals from the Middle Ages; therefore I thought it appropriate to give the building more the character of English chapels, in which some large proportions operate and the whole thing is closely connected. The advantage here should be that if one wanted to renew the French church in the following times, the construction could be continued in the same way and at the end closed with two bell towers, whereby six turrets rise above the mass and certainly several Pages from a distance would make an imposing effect. The columns of the narrow galleries in the church, as well as the window bars and the roof railing could be made of cast iron; the whole rest of the building would be built of brick and would remain in careful masonry without plastering, like the churches of the Middle Ages in our areas. "
King Friedrich Wilhelm III. demanded to see Schinkel's designs at the beginning of the spring of 1824. Schinkel put his conceptions together on a sheet of paper. So he drew the pseudoperiteral temple in a Corinthian and a Doric version. He was guided by the Langhansian point of view, who first applied the Doric style again to the Brandenburg Gate and at the same time to the coin of Heinrich Gentz , which was also executed in this style. In both designs of the antiquing form, a cylindrical round building is integrated in the north part, which covers an inner dome. The two gothic designs shown on top of each other have roughly the same floor plan. Just like the previous four-door design, both the one-tower and the two-tower design are further modifications of the classicist scheme in their inherent cubic character.
In March 1824, the king decided to have the two-tower design carried out, but contrary to Schinkel's original plan, the building site was set back a little from Werderscher Markt. In this way, the additional privacy wall or blinding architecture could be avoided, which had been planned to “cover up the bad buildings in Falkoniergasse ” at the old location of the church.
In 1829 Schinkel added the following explanation to the six plans that he had included in the 13th issue of his collection of architectural designs :
“Since thrift was made an obligation in the draft, I assumed that the assumed medieval style would be implemented in the greatest simplicity and that it would only work through the circumstances. The construction of a single tower, if it were to have the width of the church in order to completely cover the gable, would not only have taken away a lot of space from the base, but would have incurred costs because of the very considerable height, which is proportionate to its width would have been in no relation to the recommended thrift. For this reason I chose a gable front, which is surrounded by two small bell towers. These turrets could now, without becoming significantly high, assume fine and graceful proportions, and the work gained a richer effect with little means than with a single colossal tower building, because the perspective of two towers shifts their views against one another in far more varied ways. Given the very small footprint of each of these turrets, the creation of a relatively sharp point would have turned out to be petty; I therefore preferred to let these little turrets end at the top in their full width towards the air, so that at the same time the purpose of forming a plateau for prudence at this height shines out. The delicate edging of these areas with openwork railings, which close in pointed corner pillars, adequately denotes the end of this building and at the same time does a lot to enrich the effect [...]
With the simplicity of the building, it was important to give the architecture a peculiarity To give interest; This was achieved by allowing the construction to be visible everywhere in a brick material that was carefully treated specifically for each component. The building afterwards required a significant amount of bricks in very different shapes and sizes for the columns, capitals, structures, window frames, cornices and ornaments. "
Building the church
With the submission of the four alternative designs by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the planning phase for a new church for the two parishes on Friedrichswerder came to an end. King Wilhelm III. In March 1824, from among the drafts developed by Schinkel, two versions in antiquing and two in gothic form language, ultimately the one that shows the two-tower variant. Construction of the city's first neo-Gothic church began immediately.
A special feature of the execution was the designation of a single building for two different parishes, which should not be explicitly recognizable by the external shape.
The execution planning and also the construction management until completion in 1830 was mainly done by Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse . He had to have his implementation plans personally approved by Schinkel. These plans have various handwritten changes or additions by Schinkel. During the execution phase, Schinkel's part as an architect was primarily to continuously monitor the detailed planning and to solve the problems that might arise as the construction progressed.
Schinkel was forced by considerable financial restrictions to forego the plans for the Fialtürmchen above the buttresses on the nave. He hoped that by emphasizing the two towers with four pinnacles each, the upper end of the building would be sufficiently emphasized. The architect had already dealt with this aspect in the design phase; this is shown by the perspective representation as a twin-tower church without the pinnacles on the ship on the sheet showing the four different alternatives. However, the serious effects of this decision could not be foreseen for those involved.
After his trip to England in 1826, Schinkel withdrew the decision not to emphasize the upper buttress ends on the nave. He was able to study the buildings on site, the copper engravings of which he had orientated himself and realized that the Berlin building would look imperfect. In February 1828 he got the king through that the buttresses get the intended points. For the reasons of cost mentioned above, he had to make the concession to make these components in an economical variant. This was done by using imperial format bricks cut by hand by the bricklayers on site instead of specially manufactured shaped bricks. This middle ground between the non-execution and the perfect use of shaped stones led to the first plans for far-reaching changes to the external shape just three years after Schinkel's death.
The exterior of the church was completed in the middle of the year. The relatively slow construction progress in comparison to other buildings carried out during this period was due to two different reasons. For one thing, there were always problems with financing. On the other hand, the executives, from the bricklayers and other craftsmen to the building supervisors, were no longer used to processing the brick face-to-face. The different heights of the hand-painted imperial format tiles in the millimeter range caused particular problems. In order to achieve a uniform joint pattern, it was therefore necessary to follow the guidelines exactly; which is not necessary for masonry that will be plastered later. Despite all efforts, it was therefore necessary to give the masonry a uniform appearance up to the level of the first cornice, at the level of the window parapet, with a rod joint.
The pottery manufacturer Tobias Feilner was entrusted with the production of the more complicated and artistically demanding shaped and decorative stones. He was able to settle a total of 9,000 Reichstaler for this project. His deliveries included the 141 massive acanthus leaves on the main cornice, all parts of the window tracery including the corresponding reveal stones as well as the richly decorated capitals of the reveals on the portals. The only 1800 Reichstaler expensive terracotta figure of the Archangel Michael at the main portal was made in seven parts and then assembled; the work was considered a great technical achievement at the time. Ludwig Wichmann had made the model for this almost round three-dimensional figure, the same applies to the two relief angels to the left and right of it. The archangel figure was initially replaced in 1904 by a copy in copper, and in 1986/1987 by a bronze replica. In the Feilner workshops, also due to Schinkel's high standards, a perfection that met the highest standards was achieved, which set standards in the next decades for the production of building ceramics.
In 1828 the decision was made that "instead of the main entrance doors proposed from wood ... those should be made from cast iron". With this, Schinkel created the prerequisites for an additional decoration of the door leaves with bas-relief medallions, which at the same time enormously enhanced the entrance situation both on the south and on the east-facing double portals. The sculptor Friedrich Tieck modeled the 20 medallions depicting geniuses. The door leaves as well as the image plates used in them were cast in the Berlin iron foundry and installed in August 1830.
Finally, Schinkel designed, freely adopting Gothic models and stylistically based on English chapels , a building that clearly expresses a classical sense of form in its cubic structure. The saddle roof typical of Gothic churches and pointed helmets on the two towers are missing . Rather, the roof is very flat and for a while served Berliners as a popular viewing platform; the vedute painter Eduard Gaertner has 1,834 from here his famous panorama of the royal seat painted Berlin (the section shows Gaertner with his wife, child and working equipment on the roof, the view goes on Schinkel Building Academy away to the southeast).
The brick façades of the church are hardly reminiscent of the slender structures of Gothic buildings, which always strive upwards. Acanthus leaves and Corinthian capitals as decorative forms refer to classical antiquity . Two pointed arch portals with tracery rosettes form the main entrance, Friedrich Tieck provided the design for the cast iron wing doors, the models for the portal sculptures were by Ludwig Wilhelm Wichmann. The interior relates more clearly to Gothic originals than the exterior of the building. Narrow, bundled buttresses with elegant profiles merge into illusionistic net vaults on the high ceiling. The illusion was created by painted vault ribs and impressively painted shadows. In fact, it is a cross-ribbed vault. Schinkel had brick masonry painted on the vaults and sandstone ashlar masonry on the pillars .
In the interior clearly distinctive features of medieval high Gothic can be seen. The five cross-rib vaults above the drawn-in, bundled buttresses protruding into the room give the hall its face. Narrow wooden galleries are built between these buttresses. Their Gothic arcades were initially planned to be made of cast iron, but for cost reasons they had to give way to a supporting structure made of local softwood with an oak cladding during the construction phase.
The self-contained, upward spatial effect is completed by the polygonal choir with its painted leaded glass windows . In the outer picture the references to the English late Gothic are clearly recognizable, but inside Schinkel resorted to the Gothic, especially the Teutonic Order of the 13th century. With the cross-ribbed vault, but also with many other details, it referred directly to the castle chapel of the Marienburg . Through the use of bricks on the outside as exposed masonry, in particular the terracottas supplied by the Feilner pottery factory, complete material visibility and, above all, coherence is achieved.
In contrast, work is done inside through and through illusionistically. Both the brick-faced vaults, the ribs of the vaulting network, as well as the appearance of the masonry, made entirely of light marble for the walls and bundle pillars, are an illusion, albeit a successful one in every detail. In the interior, for the cost reasons already mentioned, all surfaces are covered with white plaster and stucco , in order then to be transformed into brick and sandstone imitation (wrongly called marble) in the highest craftsmanship.
The finished building initially received little public recognition and even appeared in literature as “Schinkel's Gothic child of sorrows”. On the other hand, Schinkel provided the impetus for a large number of neo-Gothic brick churches in Berlin, Brandenburg and the province of Saxony , which mostly took over the historical canon of forms completely and without reflection and neither came close to the architectural quality of the Gothic originals, nor to that of the Friedrichswerder Church. Their former client, now King Friedrich Wilhelm IV., Tried in 1843, two years after Schinkel's death, to change the building in his sense, i.e. to bring it closer to Gothic models.
Schinkel had the towers end essentially flat at the top, with an openwork cast iron railing with quatrefoils and four small, pointed corner pillars ( pinnacles ) each , which corresponded to 16 other pinnacles on the nave. For cost reasons, however, these were only made with cut bricks in the area of the fial tips and not with shaped stones as in the area of the fial bases. This inferior quality led to premature destruction due to the weather.
The king commissioned the architect Friedrich August Stüler with drafts that were supposed to add two gothic spiers to the building. These plans, stylistically and proportionally without any real relationship to the existing architecture, remained unfinished due to a lack of finances. In preparation for the renovation, however, the eight pinnacles of the towers were removed down to the base level. Stüler also had the fial pillars walled up in a different shape and the fial points replaced with new ones in a different shape, made of solid cast zinc (material thickness at least 3 mm). While the Schinkel tips had simple forms made of brick with a gold-plated ball as the upper end, which can be seen in the panorama by Eduard Gaertner , the Stülerer cast zinc fial crowns, each with four crabs on the ridges and a finial, deviate considerably from the simple and clear Schinkel's formal language.
During the first restoration, the construction management and the monument protection authorities determined the shape of the pinnacles and, in particular, the resulting shapes of the hand- molded bricks to be produced on the nave as an analogy to the existing Schinkel fial stumps on the bell towers. Most of these bricks had already been made and delivered to the construction site. After the walling up of the second pinnacle (seen from the tower) had already started, the workers found two intact original shaped stones in the base of the fifth pinnacle on the west side during the demolition work on the Stüler's pinnacle hulls. Thereupon the work was stopped and new bricks in the now historically correct form were manufactured and inserted. In this form, which is unsatisfactory for architecture critics, the building then lasted for almost 150 years.
During the Second World War , the church building was badly damaged by multiple bomb hits . The artillery bombardment caused the worst damage on April 29, 1945, especially on the tower facade and inside. The original 5 choir windows that had been removed from storage were restored in 1986 and reinstalled. The reconstruction of the glazing of the ten nave windows, which had been completely destroyed as a result of the war, and the larger tracery window on the south facade was carried out on the basis of the colored design cardboard (LAB) made by Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse in 1829 and confirmed by Schinkel.  The middle picture of the altar of Begas was destroyed by the effects of the war. Map collection, In the 1950s the ruin was secured and, from 1982 to 1987, on the direct instructions of Erich Honecker, it was repaired, reconstructed and restored in accordance with the listed buildings. Originally only the south-facing tower front with the large tracery window was to be restored, but without the archangel Michael enthroned above the portal. After a lengthy discussion about the principles of monument preservation - should changes and damage that had occurred over time remain visible as traces of history or not - it was decided to restore the original condition. The sculptor Achim Kühn carried out a professional repair and restoration of the archangel. However, it was not used for church purposes again - the house became an exhibition building, Schinkel Museum. After German reunification , a new repair began in 1997 - 2001, now partly with materials that were not available in the GDR . The stone imitation painting of the interior carried out in Kalkkasein in 1987 according to findings is not marbling, but an imitation of sandstone, which the qualified restorer Gottfried Grafe specified as a project restorer on the basis of sample areas and the execution of the entire room decoration as well as the repair and restoration measures in the church professionally and artistically monitored .
In June 2007, during pipeline work, 20 graves were discovered next to Friedrichswerder Church, which belonged to the church's former cemetery. The approximately 300 year old graves were scientifically documented and the exhumed skeletal remains were anthropologically examined.
Until 1872 the building was a Prussian-Uniate and French-Reformed simultaneous church (hence also Temple du Werder in French). Then the Uniate acquired the portion of the Reformed who had not held their own services in the church since 1835. For over a hundred years, until the end of the Second World War, the Friedrichswerder Church served as a place of worship for the Lutheran local parish of Friedrichswerder, which has now been incorporated into the Evangelical parish in Friedrichstadt . This is used today by the French Friedrichstadtkirche on the Gendarmenmarkt for church services. Due to the war damage, the Friedrichswerder Church remained unused as a ruin for a good four decades. On the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Berlin, it was made accessible again in 1987 as a branch of the National Gallery and the Schinkel Museum . In the nave, works by representatives of the Berlin School of Sculpture were placed: sculptures by Johann Gottfried Schadow , Christian Daniel Rauch , Emil Wolff (sculptor) , Friedrich Tieck , Theodor Kalide and others. Many of the exhibits are original plaster designs. The double statue of the princesses Luise and Friederike von Prussia, the so-called group of princesses von Schadow, whose original plaster model is shown in the church, is particularly well-known . Kalides was given a new base especially for the exhibition, the heavily damaged marble group Bacchantin on Panther, which was recovered from the rubble of the National Gallery . In addition to works from the Berlin Palace , portraits of great intellectuals such as Immanuel Kant , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and the Humboldt brothers are on display. An exhibition on the life and work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel can be seen on the gallery .
In October 2012 the Friedrichswerder Church was closed due to structural damage and the sculptures were relocated. The damage was caused by the excavation of a pit for the two-storey underground car park of a large building with luxury apartments (" Crown Prince Gardens ") close to the church and new buildings on both sides of the church, against which the Evangelical Church and the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation protested. Critics complained that the church would disappear as a landmark from the cityscape with the new buildings . Proponents argued that the church had been densely built even before the war destruction and GDR demolition. The damage was repaired by the beginning of October 2019; After the renovation, the church was reopened on January 18, 2020, and from mid-2020 it will be used again for exhibitions in the Alte Nationalgalerie .
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