Press material: Schönhausen Palace

Schönhausen Palace

Berlin

The palace of Schönhausen is one of the few historical buildings in Berlin that was never completely destroyed. It is therefore unique in assembling traces of history right down to the late 20th century in one place.

The Counts zu Dohna had already built a residence here in 1664, but that was replaced between 1685 and 1690 by a home for General Joachim von Grumbkow, the core of which survives. Shortly afterwards, Elector Frederick III acquired the property, and he appointed Johann
Friedrich Eosander von Göthe to work on it until 1709. The garden front and some of the stucco ceilings still convey an impression of that period.  Between 1740 and 1797 the building served as a summer residence for the Prussian queen Elisabeth Christine, who was married to Frederick the Great. She commissioned Johan Michael Boumann senior in 1763/64 to build extensions and transform the site into a rococo gem. Apart from the magnificent banqueting hall and the elegant stairway, precious wall hangings and the Cedar Gallery have been preserved in the queen’s apartment. 

Largely forgotten in the 19th century, Schönhausen experienced a surprising twist of fate after the Second World War. The little summer residence became the seat of a head of state. In 1949 William Pieck was installed here as the first President of the German Democratic Republic.  Pieck’s official office is now on view, as is the elegant modern President’s Garden designed by Reinhold Lingner. The East German Council of State met here briefly from 1960 until 1964, and then the building served as a government guesthouse until the demise of the GDR in 1990. The apartment used by official guests survives and is presented in the style of the 1960s, whereas the fireside lounge reflects the final interior reappointment of the rooms in 1978. These rooms have accommodated many big names such as Fidel Castro and Mikhail Gorbachev, unique and tangible testimony to an important period in German post-war history.

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