The White Room, or Weißen Saal, was redesigned three times. Used as a ballroom, its final appearance wasn’t attained until the end of the 19th century. White marble was installed on the walls and the ceiling was painted. The White Room was one of the interiors that survived World War Two intact but it was demolished along with the damaged parts of the palace in 1950. In 1921 a British diplomat claimed that the Berlin Stadtschoss had “the finest interior in Europe”, only a small part of which was recorded in stereographs.
‘Picture Gallery, Royal Palace, Berlin, Germany’
Keystone View Company
The picture gallery was built c.1713 by Schlüter’s successor as architect, Johann Friedrich Eosander. It was 60m long, had yet another richly-painted ceiling and was formerly hung with enormous canvases showing Prussian military victories. Unfortunately many of the paintings were destroyed during World War Two. Perhaps the gallery’s most spectacular feature was a sculptural group at one end (not shown in the stereoview) which depicted some of the figures losing their balance and tumbling out of the composition. The picture gallery was gutted by fire in 1945 and the remains were demolished in 1950.
‘Throne Room, Royal Palace, Berlin’
Keystone View Company
The two stereoviews show the Rittersaal or Knights’ Hall, completed by Andreas Schlüter for Frederick I of Prussia c.1705. It was probably the finest of the Berlin City Palace’s 700 rooms. (The famous Amber Room, designed by Schlüter in 1701, was also a strong contender for the title until it was given to Tsar Peter the Great by Friedrich Wilhem I in 1716). Above the doors Schlüter added sculptural groups depicting America, Africa, Europe and Asia. The corners were filled with allegorical figures representing the seasons and times of day. The Baroque ceiling was painted by Johann Friedrich Wentzel with mythological gods from which hung rock crystal chandeliers. A pre-war vistor described the Rittersaal as “one of the most sumptuous in the world…and, with the possible exception of the Salle de Fetes in the Luxembourg Palace in Paris, it was certainly the finest Throne room in Europe”. The Rittersaal was destroyed by incendiaries during an air-raid on Berlin in February 1945 and the gutted shell of the palace was demolished in 1950.
‘Staircase detail in second court of castle, Berlin’
Although parts of the Stadtschloss dated back to the 15th century much of it was the brain-child of the sculptor and architect Andreas Schlüter. Schlüter was commissioned by Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg (later King Frederick I of Prussia) in 1697 to transform the Renaissance castle into a Baroque palace. Schlüter designed a remarkable sequence of state apartments for the king, most of which remained intact until the 20th century. These apartments were accessed via the main staircase. Known as the Gigantentreppe because of its immense size it rose through three floors. Instead of steps the staircase had cobbled ramps to allow the king and his retinue to ride into the palace on horseback. The stereoview shows just a small part of the Gigantentreppe with one of Schlüter’s superb life-sized atlantes from c.1700. One of the most inventive and lavish Baroque spaces in Europe, the Gigantenreppe was largely destroyed during World War Two and its remains were demolished in 1950. The majority of the exterior of the Berlin City Palace is currently being reconstructed at its original location at a cost of around £500 million. Unfortunately there are no plans to reinstate any of the interiors, including the Gigantentreppe.
‘Royal Palace, Berlin, Germany’
Keystone View Company
Unfortunately none of the more easily available stereographs of the exterior of the Berlin Stadtschloss work particularly well as an animated stereo image. There is often the lack of perspective necessary to throw the foreground and background away from each other, and the sheer size of the building was probably another factor. I’ve added this image to show something of the problem. The structure to the right was the colossal Kaiser Wilhem Monument, only a small part of which is shown in the stereoview. It was completed in 1897. It faced the palace’s Eosander Portal, designed by Johann Eosander and completed c.1710. Its three arched entrances and classical motifs were based on the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome. The palace’s dome was (to my mind) a rather regrettable addition from the mid-19th century. Both the Wilhem Monument and the Eosander Portal survived World War Two relatively intact but they were both demolished along with the rest of the palace in the 1950s.
‘King’s Palace Entrance in Berlin’
This rather poor quality stereograph shows the north side of the Berlin City Palace. The Stadtschloss had achieved something close to its final form by the mid-18th century but the two wonderful equestrian statues were much later. They were called ‘The Horse Tamers’ and were made by the Russian Peter Clodt von Jurgensburg, the favourite sculptor of Tsar Nicholas I, around 1850. The two statues were given by the tsar to the Prussian king, Friedrich Wilhem IV, and installed on the northern facade of the Stadtschloss (slightly later copies also exist in St. Petersburg and Naples). Although the palace was severely damaged during World War Two, and later demolished, the statues survived and can be seen at Heinrich von Kleist Park in Berlin. It’s possible that the statues will return to their original position when the reconstruction of the palace’s exterior is completed.
‘Statue des Heiligen Georg’
J. F. Stiehm
This rare stereograph shows one of the inner courtyards of the immense Berliner Stadtschloss, the Berlin City Palace, which once stood in the centre of the city. The palace was built over the course of 500 years, starting in the 15th century with the most extensive additions made around 1700. It was originally the residence of the Prince Electors of Brandenburg but was upgraded to a Royal palace when Elector Frederick III became King of Prussia in 1701. It was Frederick I of Prussia who commissioned Andreas Schlüter, one of Germany finest Baroque sculptors and architects, to enlarge the palace on a colossal scale. The palace was severely damaged during World War Two and the remains were demolished in 1950. The statue shown in the stereoview was the creation of August Kiß and was installed in the courtyard in 1855. The statue survived the war and, after some restoration, was relocated to a Berlin park.