Many Berliners believe that the Gendarmenmarkt is the most beautiful place in Germany and indeed in all of Europe. Well, however that might be, it really is a must-see for all visitors to Berlin. This is the case because the Gendarmenmarkt is a beautiful example of an architectural ensemble full of harmony and it includes both the French and the German cathedral as well as the Concert House.
Built in 1688 according to plans by Johann Arnold Nering, the square was originally called Linden-Markt and later on Friedrichstädtischer Markt and then Neuer Markt. However, after being used from 1736 to 1782 by the military for sentry duty and housing their horses, it came to be known as the Gendarmenmarkt. After 1777, the square was developed uniformly according to plans by Georg Christian Unger.
Severely damaged in the war, the square was rebaptised “Platz der Akademie” in 1950 on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the Academy of Science. In 1991, it got its original name back. Numerous restaurants, businesses and hotels are located around the Gendarmenmarkt.
The French Friedrichstadtkirche was built between 1701 and 1705 based on designs by Jean Louis Cayart as a church meant for French Protestants (Huguenots) who had fled to Berlin. In 1786, while the Gendarmenmarkt was being transformed, the impressive tower of the French cathedral designed by Carl von Gontard and Georg Christian Unger was opened. The cathedral was severely damaged in World War II and was rebuilt starting in 1977.
The German cathedral, located across from the French cathedral, the German cathedral was built by Giovanni Si-monetti between 1701 and 1708 according to plans by Martin Gruenberg. From 1780 to 1785, Carl von Gontard completed the building by adding on the domed tower. The cathedral was destroyed in World War II and, after extensive restoration work, it reopened again on 2 October in 1996.
The Concert House (formerly Theatre house) was built as a theatre in 1821 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who was replacing the National Theatre, which had been constructed between 1800 and 1802 by Karl Gotthard Langhans and which had burned down in 1817. The design of the Concert House, or the Konzerthaus as it is known to Berliners, integrated what remained of the Langhans’s rectangular shaped building and added a larger and wider building which was crowned by a pediment. After being destroyed during the war, the building was initially preserved and then the systematic, faithful restoration work began in 1979. After the reopening in 1984 concerts instead of plays were given in the Konzerthaus.