Rittersaal, Berlin City Palace

‘Throne Room, Royal Palace, Berlin’

Keystone View Company

c.1900

berlin rittersaal view

Raumbild-Verlag

c.1935

rittersaal throne room berliner stadtschloss

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.

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Gigantentreppe, Berlin City Palace, c.1935

‘Staircase detail in second court of castle, Berlin’

Raumbild-Verlag

c.1935

berlin staircase schloss

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.

Berlin City Palace, Germany, c.1900

‘Royal Palace, Berlin, Germany’

Keystone View Company

c.1900

berlin schloss

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.

‘The Horse Tamers’, Berlin City Palace, c.1890

‘King’s Palace Entrance in Berlin’

c.1890

the horse tamers stadtschloss rossebandiger

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.

‘St George & the Dragon’, Berlin City Palace, c.1875

‘Statue des Heiligen Georg’

J. F. Stiehm

c.1875

statue st george stadtschloss berlin

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.

Fountain of the Virtues, Nuremberg, c.1935

Raumbild-Verlag

c.1935

nuremberg fountain

The Fountain of the Virtues, or Tugendbrunnen, is a Renaissance water fountain located in Nuremberg’s city centre. Divided into three tiers and cast from bronze, the fountain was created in the 1580s by Benedict Wurzelbauer. The three theological virtues and three cardinal virtues are depicted as six allegorical figures. The three seen in the stereograph are Faith (holding a cross), Love (surrounded by children) and Hope (accompanied by an anchor). Above the six figures are water-spouting cherubs holding the city’s coat of arms and at the top of the fountain is a statue of Justice. Although the surrounding buildings were all destroyed, fortunately the fountain survived World War Two and can still be seen in Nuremberg today.

The Kaiserstallung, Nuremberg, c.1865

‘Kaiserstallung’

G. Schmidt

c.1865

nuremberg castle schmidt

The Kaiserstallung (Emperor’s Stables) was located next to Nuremberg’s medieval castle. Despite the name, the Kaiserstallung was built between 1494 and 1495 to serve as a gigantic granary. Part of it was also used to stable the emperor’s horses during imperial visits to the castle, which is how the building acquired its title. One distinctive feature was the five storey attic with windows at each level. The tower at the far end, with little turrets at each corner, was built in 1377 as part of the castle’s defences. The Kaiserstallung was converted into a youth hostel in 1938 but was almost completely destroyed during an air-raid in 1945. The exterior was reconstucted to its pre-war appearance and today the Kaiserstallung is once again used as a youth hostel.