Charlottenburg Palace vividly demonstrates Hohenzollern court culture from the 17th until the early 20th century, despite suffering severe damage during the Second World War. The original nucleus for the future palace and gardens was Schloss Lietzenburg, a small summer residence built between 1695 and 1699 for Sophie Charlotte, Electress of Brandenburg, and designed by Arnold Nering. The gardens were the first in Germany to be laid out in accordance with the baroque French style of Le Nôtre. There were major extensions and conversions here after Frederick I was crowned King of Prussia in 1701.
Baroque interiors such as the Porcelain Room and the chapel have now been largely restored to their original form. The complex was substantially enlarged after Frederick the Great ascended the throne. In 1740 work began, to plans by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, on the New Wing with its splendid banqueting chambers, the Golden Gallery and the White Room, and also the royal apartments. The paintings by Antoine Watteau are among the outstanding art works in the palace.
Frederick William II also commissioned improvements to Charlottenburg after taking office in 1786. He appointed Karl Gotthard Langhans to extend the building by adding a new theatre between 1788 and 1791. Frederick William III and his wife Queen Luise likewise favoured Charlottenburg as a summer residence. Luise occupied the former winter chambers of her father-in-law, Frederick William II, in the western section of the New Wing. In 1810 Karl Friedrich Schinkel was appointed to design a new bedroom for the queen.
Frederick William IV was the last Hohenzollern monarch to have his own quarters installed on the upper storey of the Old Palace at Charlottenburg. These apartments were lost when the building was destroyed, although his library has survived with its original interior. The crown jewels and silver tableware are on display on the upper floor of the Old Palace.
The 55-hectare Charlottenburg Palace Garden is Berlin's leading historical garden monument, the baroque parterre having been recreated, in a free interpretation of the original, after the damage it suffered in the Second World War. Surviving sections of the original landscaped design have been reworked in compliance with the principles of monument preservation.
The Belvedere in the palace gardens formed part of the project commissioned by Frederick William II to redesign the park. The building, conceived by Karl Gotthard Langhans, was built in 1788 in the late baroque and early classical style, and it now houses the porcelain collection belonging to the State of Berlin. The focus here is on china from the Royal Porcelain Manufactory (KPM), acquired by Frederick the Great in 1763.
The Mausoleum, to the south-west of the Belvedere, was commissioned by Frederick William III to house the tomb of his lady consort Luise when she died on 19 July 1810. The king had his own ideas for the design and, after consulting Karl Friedrich Schinkel, he appointed Heinrich Gentz to produce drawings. The tomb was built by Christian Daniel Rauch in 1811–1814 using marble from Carrara. The Mausoleum was first extended in 1841–1843 under Ludwig Ferdinand Hesse, after the death of Frederick William III himself, and then again around 1888–1894 to drawings by Albert Geyer, in order to incorporate the tombs – made by Erdmann Encke – of the first Imperial couple, Kaiser William I and his wife Augusta.
In 1824–1825 Schinkel designed a summer pavilion for Frederick William III to the east of Charlottenburg Palace. The New Pavilion was completely destroyed in the war, but after its reconstruction in 1970 it re-opened as a museum. The key themes here are the creative versatility of Schinkel and art in Berlin during the early 19th century. Apart from the royal quarters, visitors will find paintings by Caspar David Friedrich, Carl Blechen, Schinkel and Eduard Gärtner.
Charlottenburg Palace and Palace Garden
Spandauer Damm 10–22
D – 14059 Berlin
Contact and Booking (Visitor's centre): +49 (0)331.96 94-200