Schloss Charlottenburg is the finest baroque palace in Berlin and served as the residence of the Hohenzollern dynasty. The magnificent castle was built in the late 17th century and was a gift from King Frederick I of Prussia to his wife Sophia Charlotte of Hanover.
At first the palace was small, but then it was rebuilt many times, and it acquired its present appearance. Charlottenburg Castle is surrounded by a luxurious park and is very popular with tourists and residents of Berlin. Many come here to see the royal apartments and porcelain collections, while others enjoy simply strolling through the green park.
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Video: Schloss Charlottenburg
The main entrance to the palace is surmounted by a 48-meter-high dome on which rises a gilded statue of Fortune. Visitors can visit Charlottenburg Park and the castle any day but Mondays. You can get here: from April to October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and from November to March from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Keep in mind that the grounds are closed from December 24 to 26, and on December 31 they are open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The last visitors are allowed in half an hour before closing.
Admission ticket to the Castle Charlottenburg for adults costs 10 €, a reduced ticket – 7 €. For photography without flash you must pay an additional 3 €.
History of castle Charlottenburg
Contemporaries of the Prussian king Friedrich I noted his passion for pomp and glitz, his constant desire for luxury and his worship of all things French. The palace, conceived by the monarch, was built in 1695-1699 under the direction of the court architect Johann Arnold Nehring.
It was a two-story building with a projecting oval hall and dome. Eleven large palace windows faced north and looked out over the garden. Charlottenburg Castle turned out gorgeous and was used by the royal couple as a summer palace. In those days it stood in the suburbs of Berlin, near the village of Litzen, so it was originally named “Litzenburg.” It is noteworthy that at the end of the 19th century a street near the palace was named after the architect.
During the reign of Friedrich II, the castle got a new wing and orangery. Friedrich Wilhelm III initiated the construction of a theater and a pavilion with a hall for royal tea-parties.
Following the Second World War, Charlottenburg Castle – like much of Berlin – was reduced to ruins. In the difficult post-war years there was no money to rebuild it, so the question of demolishing the architectural monument was even raised. Largely thanks to the director of the palace, this did not happen. But it took several dozen years to fully restore the buildings and the park.
The biggest interest of visitors to the palace is the spacious room – the Reception Hall, richly decorated with niches and beautiful bas-reliefs. In the west wing of Schloss Charlottenburg, the Great Glasshouse was built at the beginning of the 18th century. In the cold season, exotic plants from the park were stored here, and in the summer months, joyous festivities were held. Nowadays, popular concerts and gala evenings are held in the orangery.
In Charlottenburg you can see statues made by the famous German sculptor Gustav Hermann Blaeser. These are skillfully sculpted busts of famous poets – Ludovico Ariosto, Francesco Petrarch, Dante Alighieri and Torquato Tasso. In the pavilion, which used to be used for royal tea parties, today there are samples of ancient porcelain made by Chinese and German masters.
On the east side is the elegant Italian-style summer pavilion. It was built in 1825 by the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and today one can see a collection of drawings by artists who worked in the early 19th century. Some of them were made by K. Schinkel.
At the wish of Friedrich I a large park was laid out at Charlottenburg Castle in the best traditions of French gardening. As time went by English gardens became fashionable in Europe, so the palace park was changed. The gardeners of those times wanted to give the whole palace park a resemblance to the villas of sunny Italy, and they fully achieved their goals. The park has shady alleys and spacious lawns, artificial slides overgrown with dense green grass, small ponds and picturesque grottos.
In the palace park there is a mausoleum, where King Friedrich Wilhelm III’s wife Louise and other members of the royal family are buried. There is also a monument here to the founder of the palace – King Friedrich I.
How to get there
Schloss Charlottenburg stands in the west of Berlin, at Spandauer Damm 10-22. To get to the palace complex on the banks of the river Spree you can take bus number 109, 309 and M45 – to the stop “Schloss Charlottenburg”. The nearest subway station “U-Bhf-Richard-Wagner-Platz” is 0.8 km from the palace. From it to Charlottenburg is not difficult to walk.
Charlottenburg, Berlin’s last royal palace
In the western part of Berlin, not far from the historic center, stands one of the few architectural monuments of the German capital of the Baroque period. It is the Charlottenburg, summer residence of the Prussian and German monarchs and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Berlin.
History of Charlottenburg
In 1695, the Elector of Brandenburg, Friedrich III. of Gothenzollern, ordered the construction of a summer palace as a gift to his beloved wife Sophie Charlotte of Hanover. Architect Johann Nehring was commissioned to supervise the construction. The place for the palace was chosen near the ancient village of Litzow, known since 1239, why the palace was named Litzenburg. The village interfered with construction and was therefore torn down, as well as the two neighboring villages of Kazov and Glinike. The works were completed in 1699. The equestrian statue of Friedrich Wilhelm, the father of Friedrich III, cast in bronze, was installed in front of the central entrance.
In 1701 Friedrich III became the King of Prussia under the name of Friedrich I. The modest Litzenburg was no longer suited to the new status of its owners and underwent a radical reconstruction. The architect Johann Eosander was in charge of the construction. A massive cupola tower is constructed above the main entrance to the palace, raising the total height of the building to 48 meters. Its dome is topped with a gilded figure of Fortune in flight, which would become one of Berlin’s symbols.
The interiors of the palace were designed in the tradition of sumptuous Baroque. One of the rooms was richly decorated with amber. It was the famous Amber Room, later sent as a gift to Peter the Great.
In 1705 Sophia Charlotte died of a cold, and the palace was named Charlottenburg in honor of the deceased. In 1712, the west wing was built and the Great Glasshouse was added to it. In winter it housed exotic flowers and in summer concerts were held. At the same time a park was arranged near the palace, modelled on Versailles.
Under subsequent monarchs the construction of the palace ensemble was continued. In 1740, by the order of Friedrich II the Great, the palace was extended by an east wing which was called Small wing. During the reign of Friedrich Wilhelm III (ruled 1797-1840), major building activities took place in Charlottenburg. Under the direction of architect Carl Langhans, in 1788 a small orangery and a royal theater were added to the west wing. In the park, the king commanded the erection of a mausoleum for his wife, Queen Louise, as well as the Belvedere, a pavilion with a hall for tea ceremonies. In 1825 the finishing touches to the palace ensemble were a villa in the style of an Italian villa, called the Schinkel Pavilion, named after Carl Friedrich Schinkel, the outstanding architect of the period.
During the 19th century the Charlottenburg served as the residence of the kings of Prussia and later of Kaiser Wilhelm II. Then came difficult times for the ensemble. In 1902, the theater building was used as a furniture warehouse. During the First World War, a hospital was built in Charlottenburg. After the defeat of Germany all Hohenzollern property was nationalized. Charlottenburg was given to the Office of Palaces and Parks, which leased the premises for various commercial needs.
Bombing and shelling during World War II had the most devastating effects on the palace. The level of damage was so great that Berlin authorities decided to demolish the ruins, as there was no money to rebuild the palace. The palace was saved by the Charlottenburg art director Marguerite Kühn. She took up residence in the palace, after which Berlin newspapers published a photo of her bed in the middle of the ruins.
Charlottenburg was saved – the decision to demolish it was reversed. The restoration began in 1950 and lasted several decades. The palace was fully restored. The interiors were recreated from the remaining paintings and photographs, and at the restoration were used elements of the interiors of the destroyed to the ground imperial palaces in Berlin and Potsdam. Most of the antique furniture was also brought from there.
Charlottenburg is managed by the Prussian Palaces and Parks Foundation of Berlin and Brandenburg. At one time it was the residence of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. The palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Berlin. And there really is something to see.
In the old building of the palace housed royal apartments, the interiors which embody the magnificent splendor of the Baroque. Luxurious tapestries, gilded moldings, unique furniture, statues and mirrors. The walls are decorated with portraits of members of the Hohenzollern family and other paintings; on the ceilings – amazingly beautiful paintings on mythological stories. By the way, the art gallery of the East Wing (White Hall) has the largest collection of French paintings of the 18th century outside of France.
The state rooms of the East Wing are stunningly beautiful. The interiors are decorated in rococo style and date back to the time of Frederick the Great. Magnificent gilded moldings, mirrors, crystal chandeliers and candelabrums make an unforgettable impression.
In the west wing is the Porcelain Room, or Queen Charlotte’s study. All the walls of the hall are lined with a variety of vases, plates, and bowls of blue-and-white Chinese porcelain. This is the palace’s most popular tourist spot; it’s always crowded. A rich collection of porcelain is also on display in the oval hall of the Belvedere Pavilion.
In the Gallery of Romanticism is a rich collection of paintings by German artists of the 19th century. Interesting works by German painters are on display in the Schinkel Pavilion, including his own paintings.
The palace park is a favorite place for walks, both tourists and locals. The park was originally laid out in the French style, but was later remodeled in a looser English manner. Small ponds, grassy mounds, small grottos delight the eye.
In addition to the Belvedere, in the park you can look at the mausoleum of Queen Louise, where her husband King Friedrich Wilhelm III and other members of the Hohenzollern dynasty are also buried. The building is styled as an ancient Greek Doric temple.
But the Charlottenburg is not just a museum. Various ceremonies and classical music concerts are regularly held in the Great Orangery Hall. There is a restaurant open in the Small Orangery. And in the Christmas week in the palace square there is a fair, where you can buy handicrafts, antiques, taste local delicacies and listen to the musicians.