Spandau Citadel

Berlin, Germany

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 water. The distance between the top of each bastion is about 300 meters. Around 1680, during the time of Friedrich Wilhelm, the segment gable was added to adorn the 16th century gatehouse. In its centre is displayed the Brandenburg coat of arms composed of twenty-seven fields. After Kurfürst Friedrich III. claimed the royal title on January 18, 1701, he had the Kurhut (traditional hat of German princes) above the coat of arms replaced by the royal crown. In 1813 Prussian artillery bombarded the citadel in an attempt to recapture it from Napoleon’s troops. The gatehouse was severely damaged, and in 1839 it was reconstructed in the neo-classical style. Passage through the so-called Commander`s House, today home to the permanent exhibition about the castle and citadel, leads visitors to the Julius Tower.

The master builders Chiaramella and Lynar incorporated two buildings from the medieval Castle Spandau into the construction of the fortress: the 13th century Julius Tower and the Palas from the 15th century. The Tower, thirty meters high, offers a splendid look-out point. Originally built for residence and defence, its up to 3,60 meters thick walls were used after 1871 to shelter the ‘Reichskriegsschatz,’ the reparations indemnity paid by the French after the Franco-Prussian War.

Archaeological work has revealed that the medieval Ascanian castle had its own, even earlier predecessors. Remnants of a Slavic fortification from around 1050 were discovered, including sections of a wood-earth wall. This structure, as well as the stone foundation of the 15th century castle wall, are presented in situ in the West Curtain.

During the Third Reich, the Citadel was a restricted military zone for the army’s gas-defence laboratories. Around 300 employees worked not only on poisonous defence gas, but also on developing chemical weapons. Evidence of lasting effects prompted intensive police searches for chemical residues between 1988 and 1992, considerably delaying the restoration of the Citadel.

After the Second World War, the Citadel was used for a variety of purposes - although, contrary to popular legend, Rudolf Hess was never imprisoned here. Today the fortress embraces a purely cultural function. Concerts and large art and historical exhibitions occupy its public spaces. The former Arsenal houses the Museum of Spandau City History, while the central courtyard frequently hosts large events and open air concerts. The Bastion Kronprinz holds exhibition spaces and the Youth Art School www.kunstbastion.de. Artists, craftsmen and a puppet theatre are established in House 4.

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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 Lagab√łte, 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.