Königliches Opernhaus (Royal Opera), Unter den Linden 7, Mitte;
1741-43 by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff
The Royal Opera was the first free-standing theater building outside of an aristocratic palace; an entirely new type of building, which bore witness to the regard for this art in Friedrich II's court. For the exterior construction, the king and his architect Knobelsdorff decided on a sleek form with a monumental Classical portico based on the model of the English successors to Palladio. In the interior the building was decorated with elaborate, playful Rococo forms. The remainder of the Opera's history could be called a tale of woe. The building was not only disfigured on the exterior through necessary, but clumsily executed improvements to the technical stage equipment in the years 1910 and 1926-28, but through two catastrophes as well: a devastating fire in the year 1843 and bombing in the Second World War, twice nearly completely destroyed.
Reconstruction in the years 1951-55 was directed by the architect Richard Paulick. He harmonized the architecture and created a completely new interior decor in "the spirit of Knobelsdorff". He took advantage of the reconstruction to correct a number of architectural sins of the pre-war period. Together with the Opera, he designed the administration and warehouse buildings in Frederican style. He rebuilt the Prinzessinenpalais (Palace of the Princess) and the Kronprinzenpalais (Palace of the Crown Prince) and removed the roof structures on the bank building on the southern end of Bebelplatz (Bebel Square), which not only disfigured the bank building, but also encroached on St. Hedwig's Cathedral.