The cathedral on the former Forum Fridericianum, now Bebelplatz, has to work hard to get noticed among the surrounding buildings. It is flanked by the Kronprinzessinnenpalais and the former head office of Dresdner Bank, now an upscale complex comprising office premises and a hotel. Ultimately, though, you’ll spot St. Hedwig’s Cathedral quite quickly: its large round dome is a striking feature of the city’s architecture in this area. Today, it serves as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Berlin, making it the most important Catholic building in the city.
Old Fritz, as King Frederick II is still commonly called today, wanted the structure to serve as a sign of tolerance. Back then, Prussia was a Protestant territory, but it was also home to a fast-growing Catholic community. In this case, Old Fritz chose, as he so often did, a historical model for the building: this time, this was the ancient Pantheon in Rome, which made the structure a prestigious part of the former Forum Fridericianum. The construction plans were drawn up by Knobelsdorff architects.
The building has been converted and rebuilt many times since its completion. It was almost totally destroyed in a bombing raid in 1943, before being rebuilt from 1952 to 1963. The interiors, in particular, underwent major changes in the process and took on a 1950s style, which initially looks strikingly unusual, but not inappropriate. The cathedral is certainly worth a visit.