Berlin Monument Authority  

 

Monuments in Berlin

Unter den Linden


A boulevard of linden trees was planted from 1647 before the gates of the city by the Great Elector, who wanted to ride from his castle to the hunting grounds in the Tiergarten more comfortably. Over the course of its long history, this stretch became the best known and grandest street in Berlin. Around the end of the seventeenth century it became the central axis of the newly built suburb Dorotheenstadt. After his ascension to the throne in 1740, Friedrich II expanded the boulevard by adding his "Forum Fridericianum" with the opera, library, Prince Heinrich Palace - today, the Humboldt University - and St. Hedwig's Cathedral. These structures were built on the space freed up by the demolition of the militarily obsolete Memhardt fortifications.

The art-loving king christened his "Forum" with the motto "Fridericus Rex Apollini et Musis" (dedicated to King Friedrich, Apollo and the Muses), written on the gable of the Deutschen Staatsoper (German National Opera). This agenda was by all means meant as a political manifesto: Friedrich wanted to link his kingship with the sciences (Apollo) and the arts (Muses). The realization of this grandiose construction program was delayed by the Frederican wars, however, which started at the same time and lasted until 1780. The king's ambition for power politics long outweighed his partiality for culture.

After the wars of liberation from 1813-15, the street was converted to a "via Triumphalis" to commemorate the victory over Napoleon and furnished with new, monumental buildings as well as statues of deserving generals. Thus an urban space was created between the Brandenburg Gate and the Schlossbrücke (Castle Bridge) which, along with the castle district, comprised the architectural climax of the capital.

The Second World War left most of the promenade in rubble. Its appearance today is characterized by the reconstruction efforts of the fifties and sixties. Damaged monumental buildings in the eastern section, for instance the Zeughaus (Armory), the Opera or the Humboldt University, were restored on the outside and their destroyed interiors usually renovated in accordance with historical studies. The gaps in the western section of Unter den Linden could not be closed until after the wall was built in the sixties. Constructed near the border were predominantly the embassies of allied states and office buildings. After the rejection of the exorbitantly expensive building style of the "National Tradition", with its elaborate, historicizing forms such as those which still dominate the boulevard Karl-Marx-Allee today, the buildings built on the western section of Unter den Linden were industrially produced, in imitation of international currents in architecture. They were to demonstrate the GDR's competitiveness and the modernity of the young state.

Since the dissolution of the GDR, the western end of the boulevard, Pariser Platz, is being reconstructed along the old ground plan. The horticultural installations already have been restored.