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 survive. In 1365 Louis II, Elector of Brandenburg was buried there. Around 1500 it was renovated.
The monastery was closed due to the Protestant Reformation's arrival in Berlin in 1539. None of the monastic buildings survive, though some of them housed Berlin's first printing press from 1571 and the Evangelisches Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster from 1574. Pupils and teachers at the latter included Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, whilst Otto von Bismarck also visited the church. Leonhard Thurneysser ran the printing press and also restored the church between 1583 and 1584.
Small modifications were made in the second half of the 17th century, such as demolishing the old staircase tower, building a new timber staircase on the west side and in 1712 demolishing the rood screen separating the nave from the chancel. 1712 also saw a fire in the church's roof and in 1719 the church was restored, raising the floor level by 1 metre and bricking up two northern choir windows.
Extensive renovations were carried out in the first half of the 19th century - the gabled tower was demolished in 1826, two new towers were built on the west side in 1842, a new sacristy was built and the floor lowered again. Plans were produced for the work by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Christian Gottlieb Cantian and the former track-inspector Berger was preceded by the construction work - Berger's second design was that ultimately implemented. Work lasted until 1845, though the church was closed due to severe damp in its masonry in 1902 and in 1926 most of the 19th century changes were reversed. The church was re-consecrated on 24 May 1936.
The church was destroyed on 3rd April 1945 in the bombing of Berlin in World War II. In 1950 the debris was removed and the church ruins secured between 1959 and 1963, although the ruined monastic buildings were demolished completely to make way for a park. The ruins were restored again in 2003-2004 and are now used for exhibitions, plays and concerts.References:
Perched atop its cliff where the Ploučnice meets the Elbe, Děčín Castle is one of the oldest and largest landmarks in northern Bohemia. In the past several hundred years it has served as a point of control for the Bohemian princes, a military fortress, and noble estate.
The forerunner of the Děčín Castle was a wooden fortress built towards the end of the 10th century by the Bohemian princes. The first written record of the province dates from 993 A.D. and of the fortress itself from 1128. In the thirteenth century it was rebuilt in stone as a royal castle that, under unknown circumstances, fell into the hands of the powerful Wartenberg dynasty around 1305.
Numerous later renovations has erased all but fragments of the original medieval semblance of the castle. A significant change to the castle came in the second half of the 16th century when it was held by the Saxon Knights of Bünau, who gradually rebuilt the lower castle into a Renaissance palace with a grand ceremonial hall. The current semblance of the castle is the work of the Thun-Hohensteins, who held the Děčín lands from 1628 to 1932. The Thuns originally came from southern Tyrol and gradually worked their way to the upper echelons of Hapsburg society where they regularly filled important political and church appointments.
The Thuns reworked the castle twice. The first reconstruction, in the Baroque style, was undertaken by Maximilian von Thun, Imperial envoy and diplomat, and was meant to enhance the ceremonial aspects of the property. A central element of the project was a grand access road, the Long Drive, ending in the upper gate of the completely rebuilt entry wing. Along the drive stretched an ornamental garden (today known as the Rose Garden) and a riding yard. Maximilian’s brother Johann Ernst von Thun was responsible for the erection of the Church of the Ascension of the Holy Cross in the town below.
The second and final reconstruction of the castle was undertaken in 1786–1803. The Gothic and Renaissance palaces were torn down, all structures were leveled to the same height and gave them a unified facade. On the riverfront the castle's new dominant feature arose, a slender clock tower. Thus the castle took on the Baroque-Classical style we see today.
In the course of the 19th century, the castle became an important cultural and political center. In the 20th century the castle was used as a military garrison for German and Soviet troops after being handed to the Czechoslovak state in 1932. In 1991 the castle reverted to the ownership of the city of Děčín and the gradual renovation of the devastated structure began.
The eastern wing serves as a branch of the Děčín Regional Museum. The northern wing is occupied by the State District Archives. The staterooms of the western wing welcome individual and group tours, weddings, concerts, exhibits, and other cultural events. The castle courtyard comes to life throughout the year with events ranging from the Historic May Fair to the Wine Festival in September.