Top historic sites in Berlin

Köpenick Palace

Schloss Köpenick is a Baroque water palace of the Hohenzollern electors of Brandenburg which stands on an island in the Dahme River surrounded by an English-style park and gives its name to Köpenick, a district of Berlin. The castle was originally built on the foundations of a Slavic castle (6th century) in 1558 as a hunting lodge by order of Elector Joachim II Hector of Brandenburg. The building in a Renaissan ...
Founded: 1677 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Märkisches Museum

Built between 1901 and 1908, the red brick cathedral-like complex of the Märkisches Museum holds a history of Berlin as distinctive as its residents. Instead of a straightforward history lesson, expect a variety of themed rooms that give visitors a glimpse of the life, work, and culture of Berlin. The museum, just steps away from the banks of the river Spree, explores the at times tumultuous evolution of this histor ...
Founded: 1901-1908 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Spandau Citadel

Spandau Citadel is one of the most important and best-preserved Renaissance fortresses in Europe. In the 16th century, developments in weaponry rendered older castles useless. Thus, Kurfürst Joachim II ordered his fortification in Spandau to be constructed as a fortress in the ‘new Italian style.’ The fortress was laid out as a rectangle of curtains (fortress walls) with bastions, entirely encircled by wa ...
Founded: 1557-1594 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Babelsberg Palace

Babelsberg Palace lies in the eponymous park and quarter of Potsdam, the capital of the German state of Brandenburg. For over 50 years it was the summer residence of Prince William, later Emperor William I and his wife, Augusta of the House of Saxe-Weimar. On 22 September 1862 in the palace and adjoining park the discussion between King William I and Bismarck took place that ended with the nomination of Bismarck as Minist ...
Founded: 1835-1849 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Siemensstadt Housing Estate

The Siemensstadt Housing Estate (Großsiedlung Siemensstadt) is a nonprofit residential community in the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district. It is one of the six Modernist Housing Estates in Berlin recognized in July 2008 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It was built between 1929 and 1931, under the overall master plan of German architect Hans Scharoun. Seven prominent Weimar-era architects took part: Scharoun, Fred ...
Founded: 1929-1931 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Cecilienhof Palace

Cecilienhof Palace was built from 1914 to 1917. Emperor Wilhelm II ordered the establishment of a fund for constructing this new palace at Potsdam for his oldest son, Crown Prince Wilhelm (William) and his wife, Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin on 19 December 1912. Cecilienhof was the last palace built by the House of Hohenzollern that ruled the Kingdom of Prussia and the German Empire until the end of World War I. ...
Founded: 1914-1917 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Orangery Palace

The Orangery Palace (Orangerieschloss) was built by the Romantic on the Throne, Friedrich Wilhelm IV from 1851 to 1864. The architects Friedrich August Stüler and Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse designed it in the style of the Italian Renaissance, after the image of the Villa Medici in Rome and the Uffizi in Florence. The middle building with its twin towers is the actual castle. This building is joined to the 103 meter long and ...
Founded: 1851-1864 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Franziskaner-Klosterkirche Ruins

The Franziskaner-Klosterkirche was founded in 1250 in the early Gothic style as a monastery church for a Franciscan house. It was a fieldstone church, 52 metres long and 16 metres wide. Its remains can be found in the north wall of the present ruins. This was replaced with a three-aisled brick basilica church, begun at the end of the 13th century and completed in the first half of the 14th century, whose ruins still survi ...
Founded: 1250 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Pfingstberg Belvedere

The Belvedere on the Pfingstberg is a palace in the northern part of the New Garden in Potsdam, atop Pfingstberg mountain. It was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm IV and is only one part of an originally substantially more extensive building project. The twin-towered building was modeled on of Italian Renaissance architecture, and it was built between 1847 and 1863 with an interruption from 1852 to 1860. From sketches of ...
Founded: 1847-1863 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Schönhausen Palace

Schönhausen Palace is a Baroque palace surrounded by gardens through which the Panke river runs. In 1662 Countess Sophie Theodore, a scion of the Holland-Brederode family and wife of the Brandenburg general Christian Albert of Dohna, acquired the lands Niederschönhausen and Pankow, then far north of the Berlin city gates. In 1664 she built a manor at Niederschönhausen in 'Dutch' style. Minister Jo ...
Founded: 1664 | Location: Berlin, Germany

Marmorpalais

The Marmorpalais (marble palace) was a royal residence commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia and designed in the early classicist style by the architects Carl von Gontard and (from 1789) Carl Gotthard Langhans, designer of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate. The Marmorpalais was reserved for the private use of the king, who had an artistic temperament. With this new construction the nephew and successor of Frederick the ...
Founded: 1787-1792 | Location: Potsdam, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Bergenhus Fortress

Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.

Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.

In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.

In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.

Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.