Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
Lustgarten (Leisure Garden) Mitte; 1894-1905 by Julius Carl Raschdorff and Otto Raschdorff, Restored 1974-93
The Berliner Dom was constructed from 1893 to 1905 by Julius Carl and Otto Raschdorff as the high parish church, the cathedral and the state's most important Protestant church and to serve as the sepulcher of the Hohenzollern dynasty . A central structure under a great dome houses the ministry church; a small baptismal and wedding chapel adjoin this structure on the south. Originally, the memorial church rose up to the north, connected as an apse of the cathedral. Memorial tombs and opulent, empty coffins were exhibited here in tribute to significant members of the Hohenzollern dynasty. Until this section of the cathedral was removed in 1975-76, it provided access to the Hohenzollern crypt, which occupies nearly the entire basement of the cathedral. The main western façade was designed as an open vestibule to the leisure garden. Four corner towers enclose the main cupola and combine to form a vibrant landscape with a characteristic silhouette in the midst of Berlin. Stylistically, the dome adheres to the eclectic forms of the peak of the Renaissance era and the Baroque period. Its architecture is oriented more toward the architecture of St. Peter's Cathedral, the mother church of the Catholic world, than to that of its predecessor. The old cathedral at the Leisure Garden had been constructed in accordance with Knobelsdorff's plans by Johann Boumann from 1747 to 1750 and was later redesigned by Schinkel from 1817 to 1822. After lengthy preliminary planning of the new structure, paying special attention to the designs of Schinkel and Stüler and the results of a competition in the year 1867 under King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, Julius Raschdorff presented the first official plans in 1885. It was not until Wilhelm II took the throne that actual construction of the structure began. The best-known artists of the Wilhelmine era participated in developing this colossal building so representative of the preferences of its time. The outer dome structure, which was damaged extensively during the war, was rebuilt with a simplified cupola and spires between 1975 and 1982; the costly restoration of the interior was completed in 1993.
Apart from several valuable works of art including decorative exterior sculptures, mosaics, paintings, glass paintings and interior décor, it is the crypt, with its ninety sarcophagi and tombs of members of the house of Hohenzollern from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, which is of outstanding significance. Several of the most important sarcophagi, have been on exhibit in the main hall of the cathedral since 1993, among them the two opulent coffins of Friedrich I and his wife Sophie Charlotte, cast in gold-plated lead and tin in 1705 and 1713 according to the design of Andreas Schlüter.