“it is a marvel of civic administration, the most modern and most perfectly organized city that there is.”
Streets.—The social and official life of the capital centres round Unter den Linden, which runs from the royal palace to the Brandenburger Tor. This street, one of the finest and most spacious in Europe, nearly a mile in length, its double avenue divided by a favourite promenade, planted with lime trees, presents Berlin life in all its varying aspects. Many historical events have taken place in this famous boulevard, notably the entry of the troops in 1871, and the funeral pageant of the emperor Willaim I. South of Unter den Linden lies the Friedrichstadt, with its parallel lines of straight streets, including the Behren-strasse—(the seat of finance)—the Wilhelm-strasse, with the palace of the imperial chancellor, the British embassy, and many government offices—the official quarter of the capital—and the busy Leipziger-strasse, running from the Potsdamer-platz to the Dönhoff-platz. This great artery and Unter den Linden are crossed at right angles by the Friedrich-strasse, 2 m. long, flanked by attractive shops and restaurants, among them the beer palaces of the great breweries. In the city proper, the König-strasse and the Kaiser-Wilhelm-strasse, the latter a continuation of Unter den Linden, are the chief streets; while in the fashionable south-west quarter Viktoria-strasse, Bellevue-strasse, Potsdamer-strasse and Kurfürsten-strasse and the Kurfürstendamm are the most imposing. Among the most important public squares are the Opern-platz, around or near which stand the opera house, the royal library, the university and the armoury; the Gendarmen-markt, with the royal theatre in its centre, the Schloss-platz; the Lustgarten, between the north side of the royal palace, the cathedral and the old and new museums; the Pariser-platz with the French embassy, at the Brandenburg Gate; the Königs-platz, with the column of Victory, the Reichstagsgebäude and the Bismarck and Moltke monuments; the Wilhelms-platz; the circular Belle-Alliance-platz, with a column commemorating the battle of Waterloo; and, in the western district, the spacious Lützow-platz.
Bridges.—Of the numerous bridges, the most remarkable are the Schloss-brücke, built after designs by Schinkel in 1822-1824, with eight colossal figures of white marble, representing ideal stages in a warrior’s life, the work of Drake, Albert Wolff and other eminent sculptors; the Kurfürsten—or Lange-brücke, built 1692-1695, and restored in 1895, with an equestrian statue of the great elector, and the Kaiser-Wilhelm-brücke (1886-1889) connecting the Lustgarten with the Kaiser-Wilhelm-strasse in the inner town. In the modern residential quarter are the Potsdamer-Viktoria-brücke, which carries the traffic from two converging streets into the outer Potsdamer-strasse, and the Herkules-brucke connecting the Lützow-platz with the Tiergarten. The first three cross the Spree and the last two the Landwehr Canal.
Churches.—Berlin, until the last half of the 10th century, was in respect of its churches probably the poorest of the capitals of Christendom, and the number of worshippers on an average Sunday was then less than 2% of the population. The city now contains over a hundred places of worship, of which ten are Roman Catholic, and nine Jewish synagogues. Of the older Evangelical churches but four date from medieval days, and of them only the Marien-kirche, with a tomb of Field marshal O.C. von Sparr (1605-1665), and the Nikolai-kirche are particularly noteworthy. Of a later date, though of no great pretensions to architectural merit, are the Petri-kirche with a lofty spire, the Französische-kirche and the Neue-kirche with dome-capped towers, on the Gendarmen-markt, and the round, Roman Catholic St Hedwigs—kirche behind the Opera-house. The Garrison church in the centre of the city, which was erected in 1722 and contained numerous historical trophies, was destroyed by fire in 1908. Of modern erections the new cathedral (Dom), on the Spree, which replaces the old building pulled down in 1853, stands first. It is a clumsy, though somewhat imposing edifice of sandstone in Italian Renaissance style, and has a dome rising, with the lantern, to a height of 380 ft. The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-kirche (in the suburb Charlottenburg) with a lofty spire, the Dankes-kirche (in commemoration of the emperor William I.’s escape from the hand of the assassin, Nobiling, in 1878) in Wedding, and the Kaiser-Friedrich-Gedächtnis-kirche on a grassy knoll in the north of the Tiergarten are also worthy of notice. In the Monbijou Park, on the north bank of the Spree, is the pretty English church of St George. The main Jewish synagogue, a fine building in oriental style, erected in 1866, stands in a commanding position in the Oranienburger-strasse and is remarkable for its stained glass. Berlin was a walled city until 1867-1868. Of the former nineteen city gates only one remains, the Brandenburg Gate (1789-1793), an imitation of the Propylaea at Athens. It is 201 ft. broad and nearly 65 ft. high, and is supported by twelve Doric columns, each 44 ft. in height, and surmounted by a car of victory (Auriga), which, taken by Napoleon to Paris in 1807, was brought back by the Prussians in 1814. The gate has been enlarged by two lateral colonnades, each supported by sixteen columns.
Public Buildings.—In secular buildings Berlin is very rich. Entering the city at the Potsdam Gate, traversing a few hundred yards of the Leipziger-strasse, turning into Wilhelm-strasse, and following it to Unter den Linden, then beginning at the Brandenburg Gate and proceeding down Unter den Linden to its end, one passes, among other buildings, the following, many of them of great architectural merit—the admiralty, the ministry of commerce, the ministry of war, the ministry of public works, the palace of Prince Frederick Leopold, the palace of the imperial chancellor, the foreign office, the ministry of justice, the residences of the ministers of the interior and of public worship, the French and the Russian embassies, the arcade, the palace of the emperor William I., the university, the royal library, the opera, the armoury, the palace of the emperor Frederick III., the Schloss-brücke, the royal palace, the old and new museums and the national gallery. At a short distance from this line are the new town-hall, the mint, the imperial bank and the royal theatre. Berlin differs from all other great capitals in this respect that with the exception of the royal palace, which dates from the 16th century, all its public buildings are modern. This palace, standing in the very heart of the city, is a huge quadrangular building, with four courts, and is surmounted by a dome 220 ft. high. It contains more than 600 rooms and halls; among the latter the Weisse-saal used for great court pageants, the halls of the chapters of the Black and the Red Eagle orders, a picture gallery and a chapel. The first floor overlooking the Schloss-platz is the Berlin residence of the emperor, and that square is embellished by a huge fountain (Neptuns-brunnen) by R. Begas. Facing the west portal is the monument to the emperor William I., and before the north gate, opening upon the Lustgarten, are the famous bronze groups, the “horse-tamers” by Clodt, the gift of the emperor Nicholas I. of Russia. The establishment of the imperial government in Berlin naturally brought with it the erection of a large number of public buildings, and the great prosperity of the country, as well as the enhanced national feeling, has enabled them to be built on a scale of splendour befitting the capital of an empire. First in importance is the Reichstagsgebäude (see Architecture, plate ix. fig. 47), in which the federal council (Bundesrat) and the imperial parliament (Reichstag) hold their sittings. A special feature is the library, which is exceedingly rich in works on constitutional law. A new house has also been built for the Prussian parliament (Landtag) in the Albrecht-strasse. Other new official buildings are the patent office on the site of the old ministry of the interior; the new ministry of posts (with post museum) at the corner of the Mauer-strasse and Leipziger-strasse; the central criminal court in Moabit; the courts of first instance on the Alexander-platz; the ministry of police, and the Reichsversicherungsamt, the centre for the great system of state insurance. In addition to these, many buildings have been restored and enlarged, chief among them being the armoury (Zeughaus), the war office and the ministry of public works, while the royal mews (Marstall) has been entirely rebuilt with an imposing façade.