Gethsemanekirche, Stargarder Straße 77, Prenzl. Berg;
Ev. Gethsemanekirche, 1890-93 by August Orth
In the mid-nineteenth century, Berlin started its development into the largest industrial city in Germany. In order to accommodate the enormous influx of population, large areas of urban expansion had to be created. The development of Prenzlauer Berg, which had advanced at lightning speed since the establishment of the German state, proceeded in accordance with James Hobrecht's plan of 1862. Empress Auguste Viktoria laid the corner stone for the Gethsemane Church even before the mass of houses in the north had reached Stargarder Strasse. Thus, the church was already standing before construction began on the neighboring lots. The Gethsemane Church is one of 53 churches that emerged in and around Berlin in the course of just fifteen years (1890-1905) thanks to imperial support. With his policy of church construction, Wilhelm II hoped to establish a "bulwark against social democracy". August Orth, the architect of the Gethsemane Church, was one of the most important architects, city planners and technical writers of the imperial era. He was not only one of the most remarkable church architects of the nineteenth century, but made outstanding contributions to the field of railway architecture as well.
Orth combined a common long house with an inscribed octagon to create a broad, bright unit of space flanked by galleries. For artistic reasons, he reduced the number of extremely slender, high pillars, ultimately using so few that he found himself in trouble with the building supervisory board. He prevailed, however and in so doing created an elegant, light impression of space. Orth adhered to the Romanesque style of Protestant church construction of his predecessors Schinkel and Stüler, but supplemented it with his own mixture of Roman and Gothic contours, rather than submitting to the contemporary fashion of pure, neo-Gothic church architecture.