‘House of One’: Berlin lays first stone for multi-faith place of worship

Religious leaders and politicians in Berlin laid the foundation stone Thursday for a new multi-faith place of worship which aims to bring Christians, Jews and Muslims together under one roof.

'House of One': Berlin lays first stone for multi-faith place of worship
Pastor Gregor Hohberg (l-r), Rabbi Andreas Nachama and Imam Kadir Sanci stand in front of the remains of St. Peter's Church, destroyed during the war, in Berlin's Mitte district to take part in the laying of the foundation stone for the multi-faith "House of One" building in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Wolfgang Kumm

“The idea is bigger than the building,” project director Roland Stolte said at a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction work on the so-called “House of One”.

Conceived a decade ago, the ambitious project is scheduled to open by 2025 on Museum Island in central Berlin.

Built on the site of a former church which was demolished under the former East German communist regime, the building will contain three separate places of worship for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Yet the mosque, the synagogue and the protestant church will be connected by a large communal hall designed to host communal events and festivals.

“It’s a very symbolic step forward for us,” said Kadir Sanci, who will be the imam of the future mosque.

“In these times of polarisation which cast a huge shadow on the world, the ‘House of One’ embodies the constructive spirit of faith and spirituality,” he added.

The multi-faith building would be “a place of peace and security” at a time when tensions between Berlin’s Jewish and Muslim communities have flared in the wake of the recent conflict in the Middle East.

There was outrage in Germany in recent weeks after Israeli flags were burned and anti-Semitic slogans chanted at some pro-Palestinian demonstrations across Germany.

Speaking at the ceremony, Berlin mayor Michael Müller said “hatred, violence, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and incitement to racial hatred have no place in our society”.

The imam, pastor and rabbi all said short prayers before symbolic objects from all three religions were cast into the concrete.

The project is estimated to cost around €47 million, and is financed in part by the German state and the city of Berlin.

READ ALSO: Germany’s Jews call for protection amid Israel-Palestinian clashes

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REVEALED: The most commonly asked questions about Germans and Germany

Ever wondered what the world is asking about Germany and the Germans? We looked at Google’s most searched results to find out – and help clear some of these queries up.

Hasan Salihamidzic, the sports director of FC Bayern, arrives with his wife at Oktoberfest in full traditional dress. Photo: picture alliance/dpa |

According to popular searches, Germany is the go-to place for good coffee and bread (although only if you like the hard kind) and the place to avoid if what you’re looking for is good food, good internet connection and low taxes. Of course, this is subjective; some people will travel long stretches to get a fresh, hot pretzel or a juicy Bratwurst, while others will take a hard pass.

When it comes to the question on the bad Internet – there is some truth to this. German is known for being behind other rich nations when it comes to connectivity. And from personal experience, the internet connection can seem a little medieval. The incoming German coalition government has, however, vowed to improve internet connectivity as part of their plans to modernise the country.

There are also frequent questions on learning the German language, and people pointing out that it is hard and complicated. This is probably due to the long compound words and its extensive grammar rules, however, as both English and German are Germanic languages with similar words in common, it’s not impossible to learn as an English-speaker.

Here’s a look at some of those questions…

Why is German called Deutsch? Whereas ‘German’ comes from the Latin, ‘Deutsch’ instead derives itself from the Indo-European root “þeudō”, meaning “people”. This slowly became “Deutsch” as we know it today. It can be a bit confusing to English-speakers, who are right to think it sounds a little more like “Dutch”, however the two languages do have the same roots which may explain it.

And why is Germany so boring? Again, probably a generalisation, especially given that Germany has a landmass of over 350,000 km² with areas ranging from high rise, industrial cities to traditional old town villages and even mountain ranges, so you’re sure to find a place that doesn’t bore you to tears.

Perhaps it is a question that comes from the stereotype that Germans are obsessed with strict about rules, organised and analytical. Or that they have no sense of humour – all of these things being not the most exciting traits. 

Either way, from my experience I can confirm that, even though there is truth to German society enjoying order and rules, the vast majority of people are not boring, and I’m sure if you come to Germany you’ll meet many interesting, funny and exciting people. 

READ ALSO: 12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Germany

When it comes to the German weather, most people assume a cold and cloudy climate, however this isn’t entirely true. While the autumn and winter, especially in the north, comes with grey skies and sub-zero temperatures, Germany can have some beautiful summers, with temperatures frequently rising above 30C in some places.

Unsurprisingly, the power and wealth of the German nation is mentioned – Germany is the largest economy in Europe after all, with a GDP of 3.8 trillion dollars. This could be due to strong industry sectors in the country, including vehicle constructions (I was a little surprised to find no questions posed on German cars), chemical and electrical industry and engineering. There are also many strong economic cities in Germany, most notably Munich, Frankfurt am Main and Hamburg.

READ ALSO: Eight unique words and phrases that tell us something about Germany

Smart and tall?

Why are Germans so tall? They are indeed taller than many other nations, with the average German measuring a good 172.87cm (or 5 feet 8.06 inches), however this may be a question better posed to the Dutch, who make up the tallest people in the world.

Why are Germans so smart? While this is again a generalisation – as individuals have different levels of intelligence in all countries – this question may stem from Germany’s free higher education system or their seemingly efficient work ethic. Plus there does seem to be some scientific research behind this question, with a study done in 2006 finding that Germans had the highest IQ in Europe.

So, while many of the questions posed about Germany and Germans on Google stem from stereotypes, we can confirm that some aren’t entirely made up. If you’re looking to debunk some frequently asked questions about France and the French, check out this article by our sister site HERE.