Charlottenburg: a district in western Berlin
Charlottenburg is an elite district of Berlin with a 300-year history. The residence of the Prussian kings was located here. And now it is one of the most expensive places in the country.
Charlottenburg is the showcase of West Berlin. It is the cultural, historical and commercial district of the city and part of the administrative district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.
The city of Charlottenburg was founded here in 1705. It was named after the Prussian Queen Sophia Charlotte, the wife of King Frederick I of Prussia. The settlement was formed around the Charlottenburg Palace, which became known throughout Europe as the “Court of the Muses.” Sophia Charlotte used to organise magnificent festivals in the palace; she also patronised the arts and sciences.
In 1920, with the creation of “Greater Berlin”, the city of Charlottenburg became part of the German capital as a district. In 2001, Berlin reduced the number of districts and the district of Charlottenburg was merged with the district of Wilmersdorf. At the same time, the former districts (Bezirk) received the status of neighbourhoods or quarters (Ortsteil).
Restaurants, clubs, galleries and shops around the Ludwigkirchplatz, Savignyplatz and Schlüterstraße are back in fashion, and all the fine luxury brands have now settled on the Kurfürstendamm. Wealthy families with children live here, because they are attracted by proximity to the best national schools and a large number of playgrounds.
An apartment in Charlottenburg will cost an average of 6,000 euro per square metre, according to the Immowelt’s data for 2022. You can rent property here for an average of 16 euro per square metre.
Built in 2021 Total of 13 apartments
Built in 2023 Total of 40 apartments
Built in 2022 Total of 33 apartments
Total area 106 m² 2 bedrooms
Total area 104 m² 3 bedrooms
Total area 82 m² 2 bedrooms
Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg)
The royal Baroque-style residence impresses visitors with its luxurious greenhouse and famous park, exquisite bas-reliefs and statues, collections of Chinese porcelain and French 18th century paintings. The 48-metre dome of the palace is crowned with a golden statue of Fortuna, and the gates are “guarded” by two gladiator figures. In front of the palace there is a statue of Frederick William I, created by sculptor Andreas Schlüter. The famous Amber Room was built in Charlottenburg Palace and later presented to Peter the Great of Russia. The Amber Room was lost during the Second World War.
In 1696, Frederick I gave his wife Sophia Charlotte the estate of Lietzow manor. Soon the building was expanded and rebuilt into a summer residence, which was named Lietzenburg. In 1701 Sophia Charlotte became the first Queen of Prussia, and Lietzenburg became her permanent residence. She lived there quite freely and often hosted social events, festivals and fireworks.
Famous composers, poets and scientists flocked to the “Court of the Muses.” Even the queen’s husband, King Frederick I, could only visit the castle at her invitation. Under the influence of Sophia Charlotte, Frederick I founded the Berlin Academy of Arts; she also helped with staging the first operas in the city. A frequent visitor to Lietzenburg was the philosopher and scientist Gottfried Leibniz, who remained a friend of the queen throughout her life. Leibniz and Sophia Charlotte worked together to establish the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin.
In 1705, Sophia Charlotte died unexpectedly at the age of 37. After her death, Frederick I did everything in his power to exalt her name for dynastic reasons. Thus, Lietzenburg was renamed in her honour and became Charlottenburg. The palace was then used for receptions of ambassadors, knightings, visits of foreign monarchs and aristocracy. In 1712, Russian Tsar Peter the Great stayed there.
The “soldier king” Frederick William I drilled the military in the palace park and held ceremonial receptions and royal weddings in the castle. The palace acquired its modern look under Frederick II, the grandson of Queen Sophia Charlotte. The king spent a lot of money on its improvement. Thus, Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin has become one of the most exquisite examples of Baroque architecture in Germany.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the palace was abandoned. It was used as a hospital during the First World War. During the Second World War, Charlottenburg was heavily damaged by air raids. However, many luxury items were evacuated in advance. In the early 1950s, under the guidance of art historian Margaret Kühn, restoration work was carried out using old drawings. Today visitors can see Charlottenburg Palace just as Frederick the Great intended it to be seen.
Charlottenburg Park (Schlosspark Charlottenburg)
The palace park, which covers more than 53 hectares, was created on Sophia Charlotte’s initiative. Luxurious celebrations with expensive fireworks were arranged here. It was originally designed in the style of French Baroque gardens with intricate flower beds and vases, numerous sculptures, unusually shaped trees, pavilions and benches.
However, after English gardens came into vogue, the park was completely redesigned into a landscape one. A free layout of the paths was made and different groups of trees (coniferous, deciduous) were planted. Artificial channels divided the territory into islets, which could only be reached by gondolas. The palace itself could be reached by water along the Spree River.
During the restoration after the Second World War, it was decided to restore the first version of the garden in the Baroque style. Now visitors can see symmetrical alleys with trimmed trees, parterre flower beds with complex ornaments, elegant sculptures and fountains. The park also houses the Belvedere tea house, the New Pavilion by architect Schinkel and the Mausoleum, where the Prussian monarchs are buried.
There is a small pond with swans and ducks in the centre of the park. On the lawns, locals frequently sunbathe or have picnics. Fun fact: lawn mowing is assigned to sheep grazing freely in the park.
Charlottenburg Town Hall (Rathaus Charlottenburg)
The new town hall was built for the 200th anniversary of Charlottenburg and opened in 1905. The building was designed by the architects Heinrich Reihhardt and Georg Süßenguth. Initially, it was planned to design the town hall in the Gothic style, but in the end they preferred Art Nouveau.
Nowadays, this is one of the few Art Nouveau buildings in Berlin. A building with its own character: with rough chipped stone cladding, sculptures of birds and animals, and Gothic figures on the facade.
During the Second World War, the town hall took heavy damage, but the restoration team managed to recreate the building in its original form. Now it serves as the administrative centre of the Charlottenburg district.
The Berggruen Museum in Charlottenburg has one of the most impressive collections of Classical Art Nouveau in the world. The museum is best known for the works of Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Georges Braque, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse.
Writer and art dealer Heinz Berggruen brought his collection to Berlin in 1996, when he returned to his hometown after sixty years of exile. As a “gesture of reconciliation”, he decided to sell the collection he had been gathering for 30 years to the city at a price well below its real value. Thus, in 2000 the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation bought this collection for only 253 million German marks, while its real price was estimated at one and a half billion German marks.
The centrepiece of the collection is made of Picasso’s works. More than a hundred paintings cover the entire period of his artistic endeavour: the drawings of the sixteen-year-old Picasso, the Pink Period and the Blue Period, his later works up to 1972. Picasso's famous paintings “Houses on the Hill” and “Nu Jaune” are exhibited here. The collection also features more than 60 paintings by the German avant-garde artist Paul Klee, 20 works by Henri Matisse, and amazing sculptures by Alberto Giacometti.
The permanent exhibition “Picasso and His Time” — as a part of the National Gallery of Berlin — takes place in the western Schlüter building opposite the Charlottenburg Palace. In addition to this permanent exhibition, Classical Art Nouveau exhibitions are also held regularly at the museum.
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche)
The memorial church was built in 1895 in memory of the first German Emperor William I (or Kaiser Wilhelm in German) on behalf of his grandson, the last German Emperor William II. The church was designed by the German architect Franz Schwechten. For a long time it was the tallest church in Berlin, its height was 113 metres. This is a Protestant church; it is located on Breitscheidplatz, where the Kurfürstendamm boulevard begins.
The church was almost completely destroyed during the Second World War. On 23 November 1943, a sermon called “Everything passes!” was held in the church, and a few hours later the building was bombed by the Allies. Only the western church tower remained, although it lost its upper part.
After the war, the city authorities planned to build another building on the site of the church. However, they received more than 47,000 angry reviews sent to a Berlin newspaper. As a result, while not restoring the church, they chose not to demolish it either, preserving it instead as a warning monument. What was left of the church was called the Hollow Tooth (Hohler Zahn) by Berliners.
Architect Egon Eiermann preserved the ruins of the once 68-metre tower, and built two cutting-edge geometric buildings next to it, which were consecrated in 1961. Due to their unusual shape, the buildings were nicknamed as “the powder box” and “the lipstick.”
The church became one of the postwar period’s symbols. Every hour, the bells on the old tower sing a tune composed by the great-grandson of the last German emperor, Prince Louis Ferdinand. And on Sundays, organ concerts are held here, which are popular among tourists and locals.
There is a crucifixion of Christ above the church altar, which is 4.6 metres in height and almost 6 centners in weight. The figure was created by Karl Hemmeter, who cast it from a copper-zinc alloy. The memorial church also houses the Stalingrad Madonna — a drawing made by the German doctor Kurt Reuber during the Battle of Stalingrad.
Kurfürstendamm (or Ku’damm for short) is the most famous boulevard in Berlin, a popular place for walking, shopping and entertainment. Luxurious boutiques, antique shops and jewellery stores, art galleries and theatres, trendy restaurants and cosy coffee houses — Ku’damm Street encompasses all of these.
By order of Otto Bismarck, Ku’damm was rebuilt in the image of the Champs-Elysées in Paris. A new street width of 53 metres was set. The boulevard was located in the centre of expensive quarters, which gave it a luxury vibe.
At the beginning of the 20th century, 120 millionaires lived here, and life was in full swing. Actors and artists met in the famous Romanesque Café, and the premieres of silent and early sound films were shown in cinemas. Kurfürstendamm had become a place of attraction for wealthy youth and a synonym for the Golden Twenties in Germany.
During the Second World War, Ku’damm was badly damaged by Allied air raids; only 43 buildings remained intact on the street. After the war, the boulevard was rebuilt and gradually turned into a street of fashionable shops. The Kurfürstendamm has become West Berlin’s showcase and a symbol of the German economic miracle.