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Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg)

History of Charlottenburg Palace

The nucleus of the Charlottenburg Palace at that time called the Lietzenburg, was constructed between 1695 and 1699 on the left bank of the Spree in a rural setting (now western Berlin). It was built, with a large garden, as the summer residence of Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Elector Frederick III.

The design was done by Johann Arnold Nering. After Frederick became King Frederick I of Prussia in 1701, the palace, only 11 bays wide, was converted into a three-winged structure surrounding a cour d’honneur. He also enlarged the original wing, adding a prominent central dome, which originally contained a carillon.

The palace was renamed Charlottenburg after the early death of its patroness in 1705. When the King died in 1713, the building was not complete. Although two orangeries were originally intended on the axis of the central wing, only the western one was executed. Inside the building the ceiling paintings were lacking, but otherwise the rooms were sumptuously decorated.

Particularly distinguished are the mirrored Porzellan Kabinett, containing a unique collection, and the chapel, consecrated in 1708: both rooms were embellished with ceiling paintings.

The parsimony of Frederick William I prevented the completion of the palace. It was his successor, Frederick the Great, who resumed work on the building, which he chose as his residence at the start of his reign. In place of the eastern orangery, Georg Wenceslaus von Knobelsdorff built the New Wing, the decoration of which involved the participation of Johann August Nahl.

The most magnificent room in this extravagantly furnished wing was the Golden Gallery, not finished until 1747. Prominent among the paintings with which the King adorned the palace is L’Ensigne de Gersaint by Watteau, which was preserved when the palace was plundered by Austrian troops in the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763). In 1788–1791 Frederick William II had a theatre built to the west of the palace by Carl Gotthard Langhans, who also built the Baroque Belvedere in the park, and decorated the Winter Apartments.

The park was partly remodelled in the style of an English landscape garden: these alterations were continued by Frederick William III. Although the King made few changes to the palace itself, Karl Friedrich Schinkel designed a bedchamber for Queen Luise in 1809. After she died a year later, a mausoleum to her in the form of a Greek prostyle temple (1810–12) was built in the park by Heinrich Gentz and Schinkel from a sketch by the King.

During 1811 and 1814 Christian Daniel Rauch created the Carrara marble tomb, his chief early work. When the King died, the mausoleum was enlarged to accommodate his tomb, also made by Rauch, and the building was further extended after the deaths of Emperor William I and his wife Augusta, whose tombs (1894) were the work of Erdmann Encke. Next to the New Wing, Schinkel built the New Pavilion, a villa for Frederick William III.

In World War II the palace and its ancillary buildings, with the exception of the mausoleum, were largely destroyed, but rebuilding was undertaken. The Charlottenburg became a museum, which, in addition to its (heavily reduced) original inventory, contains works of art from other partly destroyed Prussian castles as well as new acquisitions, the whole collection documenting court art in Prussia from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th.


Schloss Charlottenburg Map&Location

Charlottenburg Palace Address: Spandauer Damm 10, 14059 Berlin, Germany. Get help with directions:

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Schloss Charlottenburg Photos

Photos © Henri Sivonen - Click on the images to enlarge

Schloss Charlottenburg courtyard

Schloss Charlottenburg and garden

Charlottenburg Palace detail
Charlottenburg Garden

Charlottenburg Palace Garden

Schloss Charlottenburg Garden
Photos © Henri Sivonen