Nikolaikirche (Nicolai Church), Nikolaikirchplatz, Mitte;
around 1230, conversion to basilica, end of thirteenth century; gallery choir around 1379; new construction of long house, mid-fifteenth century; addition of Liebfrauenkapelle (chapel), 1452; tower construction, 1876-78, by Hermann Blankenstein, reconstruction 1981-87
The Nikolaikirche designates the heart of Berlin, marking the location where the city was founded. Berlin's first stone church appeared at about the same time that municipal law was granted, in or about 1230. Approximately 150 years later, the long house was replaced and the late-Gothic basilica of brick still visible today was constructed. The mighty western granite block structure of its predecessor remained in use, and now has the distinction of being the only structure to survive Berlin's earliest years. The neo-Gothic brick tower with two pointed spires was added in 1876-78 by the city architect Hermann Blankenstein. During the Second World War the church suffered heavy damage and the densely constructed quarter around the dairy market was destroyed. Not until 1985 was it possible to begin reconstruction of the Nicolai Quarter for the 750th anniversary of the city. The Nikolaikirche was reconstructed as a museum in accordance with the provisions for historical monuments. The preserved original décor includes a number of important epitaphs and grave plaques from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.