The Neue Kirche (colloquially Deutscher Dom) was originally built in the 1701-1708 by Giovanni Simonetti after a design of Martin Grünberg. It was the third church in Friedrichstadt, established in 1688, which was a town of princely domination, while the neighbouring old Berlin and Cölln were cities of town privileges. The Prince-Elector originally only provided for a Calvinist congregation, since they - the Hohenzollerns - themselves were Calvinists. But also more and more Lutherans moved in. Therefore in 1708 the New Church became a Calvinist and Lutheran Simultaneum.

The site for the church was disentangled from the so-called Swiss Cemetery, which had been provided for Huguenots, who had come to Berlin between 1698 and 1699 from their intermittent refuge in Switzerland. The original building had a pentagonal groundplan with semicircular apses. The interior was characterised by a typical Protestant combined altar and pulpit leaning against the eastern central pillar opposite to the entrance.

In 1780 Carl von Gontard designed and started the construction of a tower, easterly adjacent to the actual prayer hall. His design of the domed towers, a second one being added to the French Church, followed the Palladian tradition and received the shape of the Parisian Church of Sainte-Geneviève (now the Panthéon), then still under construction by Jacques-Germain Soufflot. The construction of the domed towers aimed at making the Gendarmenmarkt resemble the Piazza del Popolo in Rome. Still under construction the tower of the New Church collapsed. Thus Georg Christian Unger was commissioned to carry out Gontard's plan.

Christian Bernhard Rode created the statues, representing characters from the Old and New Covenant, which are added to the tower. The dome was topped by a statue symbolising the victorious virtue (now a post-war replica). The gable relief depicts the Conversion of Sha'ul Paul of Tarsus. In 1817 the two congregations of the German Church, like most Prussian Reformed and Lutheran congregations joined the common umbrella organisation named Evangelical Church in Prussia (under this name since 1821), with each congregation maintaining its former denomination or adopting the new united denomination.

The coffins of the casualties of the March Revolution at the German Church with its old prayer hall from 1708, painting by Adolph Menzel.The New Church became famous as a place of Prussian history. On 22 March 1848 the coffins of 183 Berliners, who had been killed during the March Revolution, were shown on the northern side of the church. After an Evangelical service within the prayer hall outside an Evangelical pastor, a Catholic priest and a rabbi, one after the other, shortly addressed the audience, before the throng accompanied the coffins to the graves.

In 1881 the dilapidated prayer hall was torn down and Hermann von der Hude and Julius Hennicke replaced it with a new one on a pentagonal groundplan, according to the neobaroque design of Johann Wilhelm Schwedler. Otto Lessing designed the six statues on the attic of the new prayer hall. On 17 December 1882 the new prayer hall was inaugurated.

In 1943 the New Church was almost completely destroyed in the bombing of Berlin in World War II and was subsequently rebuilt from 1977 to 1988. Meanwhile the German government acquired the building and the site. The church building was updated, deconsecrated and reopened in 1996 as the Bundestag's museum on German parliamentary history.

The two congregations of the New Church maintained cemeteries with the two congregations of the neighbouring Jerusalem's Church (another simultaneum), three of which are comprised - with cemeteries of other congregations - in a compound of six cemeteries altogether, which are among the most important historical cemeteries of Berlin. They are located in Berlin-Kreuzberg south of Hallesches Tor (Berlin U-Bahn) (Friedhöfe vor dem Halleschen Tor).

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Founded: 1702
Category: Religious sites in Germany
Historical period: Thirty Years War & Rise of Prussia (Germany)

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