• Germany edition
 
Berlin begins costly palace reconstruction
Photo: DPA

Berlin begins costly palace reconstruction

Published: 12 Jun 2013 09:24 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Jun 2013 09:24 GMT+02:00

President Joachim Gauck will attend the official laying of the foundation stone for the Berlin Palace, on the city's legendary leafy axis, Unter den Linden, which Prussian princes once called home.

The new building, due to be inaugurated in 2019, will house a cultural centre instead but has faced a bumpy road in its years-long planning over the site's historic significance and the price tag for a city famously known as "poor, but sexy."

At a time when many European countries are battling to rein in debt, with Germany heading the campaign for budgetary rigour, the city of Berlin has already been left red-faced by the repeatedly delayed opening of its new airport.

While the German government and hard-up city of Berlin will stump up most of the bill for the building work, almost €80 million of the total cost are being collected by German aristocrat Wilhelm von Boddien who has campaigned for years for the palace to be rebuilt.

The project has also provoked controversy because it involved pulling down

the Palace of the Republic which housed the parliament of the former communist

East Germany and a cultural and leisure centre that were cherished in the

memories of many East Germans.

The enormous building with glass and marble facades, completed in 1976 and found to be contaminated with asbestos, was demolished in 2006.

Former East German residents saw its disappearance as a further chiselling away of their identity after Germany's reunification in 1990 saw successive governments seek to erase all traces of the communist regime.

In 1999 when the German government and parliament moved from Bonn to Berlin, which again became the German capital, the then chancellor Gerhard Schröder declared himself in favour of the Palace of the Republic's destruction.

"It's so monstrous that I would prefer a palace on this site," he told Die Zeit newspaper.

Several years later, the German parliament gave the final green light for the rebuilding of the palace.

The original had been badly damaged by Allied bombing during World War Two, and its remains destroyed by the communist authorities in 1950.

The design of the replacement palace, by Italian architect Franco Stella, will see three quarters of the facades replicate those of the original Hohenzollern palace, the oldest parts of which dated from the 15th century but was mostly built at the beginning of the 18th century.

Baptised the "Humboldt Forum", the new palace will house collections from Berlin's Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art, as well as works from the scientific collections of the Humboldt University, libraries and cultural centres.

Germany has in recent years reproduced relatively faithfully several destroyed landmarks, including the Adlon Hotel in Berlin which is a replica of the famous luxury establishment that disappeared during World War II.

And in the eastern city of Dresden, an identical version of the Frauenkirche now stands, built with what was salvaged from the remains of the former church after allied bombing.

AFP/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German of the Week
How 12 words helped bring down the Wall
Genscher on Tuesday on the balcony where he gave his speech 25 years ago (below). Photo: DPA

How 12 words helped bring down the Wall

Half a sentence uttered 25 years ago on Tuesday by the then West German foreign minister helped catalyze the reunification of Germany, which Germans celebrate on Friday. Now 87, Hans-Dietrich Genscher is The Local's German of the Week. READ  

Second Ebola patient to arrive in Germany
Medical personnel practice containment procedures in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA

Second Ebola patient to arrive in Germany

A second Ebola patient is set to arrive in Germany from western Africa on Thursday night in Frankfurt. The city's University Clinic hopes to treat the NGO worker on its isolation ward. READ  

Germany ranks third in world university list
Students at Munich's LMU. Photo: DPA

Germany ranks third in world university list

German universities have shot up the world's leading higher education rankings, with Germany now having more institutions among the world's best than any other country after the US and UK. READ  

Expats in Berlin walk Wall for refugees
David Gordon Smith by a stretch of the Wall. Photo: Submitted

Expats in Berlin walk Wall for refugees

A group of expats will walk part of the route of the Berlin Wall on German Unity Day this Friday, almost 25 years after it fell, to raise money for refugees exactly a year after the Lampedusa tragedy. READ  

Rocket Internet shares disappoint on first day
It was more of a bear than a bull market for Rocket Internet co-founder Oliver Samwer (centre). Photo: DPA

Rocket Internet shares disappoint on first day

Start-up platform Rocket Internet entered the Frankfurt stock market on Thursday, in what was hailed as a milestone for German online firms, but the company's share price immediately fell by more than ten percent. READ  

How good is Germany for the elderly?
Photo: DPA

How good is Germany for the elderly?

A study comparing quality of life for older people around the world has ranked Germany 5th out of 96 countries. How good a place is Germany for the elderly? READ  

Cars set on fire across Berlin overnight
A burnt out car on Alten Jakobstraße, Kreuzberg, on Thursday morning.

Cars set on fire across Berlin overnight

Ten cars were set on fire across Berlin on Wednesday night and Thursday morning in the second night of disturbances in the city. READ  

Organized crime on the rise in Germany
Police escort a motorcycle gang in Schleswig-Holstein. Photo: DPA

Organized crime on the rise in Germany

Organized criminals are increasingly active in Germany, with the mafia as well as biker and international gangs making headway in the country, according to a government report. READ  

Nazi hunters find 80 living 'war criminals'
Jerusalem's Simon Wiesenthal Centre director Efraim Zuroff at the launch of a campaign to find remaining war criminals last year. Photo: DPA

Nazi hunters find 80 living 'war criminals'

The Israeli branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre on Wednesday urged Germany to prosecute alleged members of Nazi death squads during World War II, giving it a list of 80 suspects. READ  

The Local List
Eight expat groups to save you in Germany
Photo: Jan Perlich/Munich RFC

Eight expat groups to save you in Germany

Think you're the only English speaker in your town or region? Think again! The Local List this week runs through eight of the best expat groups and clubs in Germany. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Eight expat groups to save you
Munich
Bavarian independence becomes a reality... (online)
Photo: DPA/Police
National
'Criminals are at work in refugee homes'
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
Immigrants have created how many German jobs?
Photo: DPA
National
Revealed: Germany's military feet of clay
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Shutterstock
Society
Quiz: How good is your German?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Thousands take to Berlin's streets for marathon
Photo: DPA
Society
QUIZ: Can you pass the German citizenship test?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,163
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd