There is a place in Berlin where two different worlds stay together to remind about the war horrors and the German determination to quickly rebuild a new post-war life.
This place is the famous Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Over the years the Church has become a double symbol for Berliners: a testimony of the war horrors and their will to look forward and build a new life after the war.
We heard about the Church well-known mosaic and we had it on our visits wish list for years. We finally managed to visit it recently.
The Church is located in Breitscheidplatz, a square in the heart of West Berlin. Getting closer to the Church we were wondering why such a famous building is shadowed by a modern construction.
There is an explanation. We heard that the municipality decided to preserve the ruins of the Church following the protest of Berliners who did not want to endorse the authorities decision to demolish the ruins.
Instead the authorities decided to attach a modern construction – a foyer and a belfry – to the Church. The construction is in an octagonal shape and includes eye-catching honeycomb from stained glass. The construction started in 1957 and was completed in 1963. It got worldwide reputation for its blue honeycomb stained glass and the amazing inside acoustics.
The Berliners have not lost their sense of humour. They have assigned nicknames to the old and new buildings calling them “Lippenstift und Puderdose” (the lipstick and the powder box).
The Church tower features a classic clock with Roman numerals. At night, both clock and Church lights turn blue, a colour generated by a modern and cheap lighting technology.
Today the Church and its tower homes a memorial with a number of symbolic objects: the damaged statue of Christ, the Cross of Nails – made up of nails from the Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by bombs in World War II – a Russian Orthodox icon and a photo gallery showing the Church before and after the bombing.
Both the Cross of Nails and the Russian icon are reconciliation symbols from the three countries that were once at war. These symbols encourage understanding and tolerance among people no matter their belief, race and culture.
The Church stunning mosaic
The most impressive Church part is the mosaic, which tells the story of Prussia up until Kaiser Wilhelm. It is a Venetian mosaic, which decorates the ceiling, the walls and the floor.
Photo gallery: Mosaic on the ceiling and on the walls of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin, Germany