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.References:
The Church of Our Lady before Týn is a dominant feature of the Old Town of Prague and has been the main church of this part of the city since the 14th century. The church's towers are 80 m high and topped by four small spires.
In the 11th century, this area was occupied by a Romanesque church, which was built there for foreign merchants coming to the nearby Týn Courtyard. Later it was replaced by an early Gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn in 1256. Construction of the present church began in the 14th century in the late Gothic style under the influence of Matthias of Arras and later Peter Parler. By the beginning of the 15th century, construction was almost complete; only the towers, the gable and roof were missing. The church was controlled by Hussites for two centuries, including John of Rokycan, future archbishop of Prague, who became the church's vicar in 1427. The roof was completed in the 1450s, while the gable and northern tower were completed shortly thereafter during the reign of George of Poděbrady (1453–1471). His sculpture was placed on the gable, below a huge golden chalice, the symbol of the Hussites. The southern tower was not completed until 1511, under architect Matěj Rejsek.
After the lost Battle of White Mountain (1620) began the era of harsh recatholicisation (part of the Counter-Reformation). Consequently, the sculptures of 'heretic king' George of Poděbrady and the chalice were removed in 1626 and replaced by a sculpture of the Virgin Mary, with a giant halo made from by melting down the chalice. In 1679 the church was struck by lightning, and the subsequent fire heavily damaged the old vault, which was later replaced by a lower baroque vault.
Renovation works carried out in 1876–1895 were later reversed during extensive exterior renovation works in the years 1973–1995. Interior renovation is still in progress.
The northern portal is a wonderful example of Gothic sculpture from the Parler workshop, with a relief depicting the Crucifixion. The main entrance is located on the church's western face, through a narrow passage between the houses in front of the church.
The early baroque altarpiece has paintings by Karel Škréta from around 1649. The oldest pipe organ in Prague stands inside this church. The organ was built in 1673 by Heinrich Mundt and is one of the most representative 17th-century organs in Europe.