Friedrichswerder Church

When the king commissioned a new parish church for Berlin’s Friedrichswerder district from architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the early 19th century, he also had a request in terms of its style: he wanted the new church to have a ‘medieval’ appearance. The reasons behind this request sound somewhat strange today, but they were wholly understandable at the time. The aim was for the style to fit ‘within this somewhat more cramped part of the city, an area with irregular streets that evoke a medieval atmosphere’. For the façade, Schinkel opted for bare brickwork – a common feature of Gothic structures of the time. All the decorative elements, both inside and out, are made from fired terracotta. Schinkel’s Friedrichswerder Church represents a major structure within Germany’s Gothic Revival.

Today, the church is home to an exhibition of sculptures from the early 19th century, i.e. the period when it was constructed. The exhibition focuses on classical sculpture, with works by Johann Gottfried Schadow, Christian Daniel Rauch and other sculptors of the period. On the upper level, visitors can also view information about Schinkel’s life and work: he was not just an architect but also a painter, graphic artist and set designer. In fact, the church is perfectly positioned for lovers of Schinkel’s oeuvre, with a few other of his major works either visible from it or just a stone’s throw away. They include the neighbouring Handwerksakademie (under construction), the Altes Museum at the end of the Lustgarten and even the Neue Wache at the start of Unter den Linden boulevard.

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