Feb 5, 2011

The lipstick and the powder box

I bought these postcards a few years ago on my trip to Berlin along with the one that shows only the old, destroyed church. It is truly a unique sight. If I remember correctly, Berliners call it "broken tooth". The church is located at the Breitscheidplatz, the center of former West-Berlin. It is still the commercial center of Berlin, with the Kurfürstendamm shopping street and Europa Center near by.

The Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (in German: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, but mostly just known as Gedächtniskirche) is located in Berlin on the Kurfürstendamm in the center of the Breitscheidplatz. The original church on the site was built in the 1890s. It was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943. The present building, which consists of a church with an attached foyer and a separate belfry with an attached chapel, was built between 1959 and 1963. The damaged spire of the old church has been retained and its ground floor has been made into a memorial hall. 

Kaiser Wilhelm II decided to name the church in honor of his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm I. The foundation stone was laid on March 22, 1891, which was Wilhelm I's birthday. The competition for the design was won by Franz Schwechten who planned for a large church to be built in neo-romanesque style, including 2,740 square meters (~8989' 6") of wall mosaic. The spire was 113 meters (370' and 8.81") in stature and the nave seated over 2,000 people. The church was consecrated on September 1, 1895. By this time of the consecration the entrance hall in the lower section had not been completed. This was opened and consecrated on February 22, 1906. In the Second World War, on the night of November 23, 1943, the church was irreparably damaged in an air raid. The church was largely destroyed but part of the spire and much of the entrance hall survived.
The new church was designed by Egon Eiermann and consists of four buildings grouped around the remaining ruins of the old church. The initial design included the demolition of the spire of the old church but following pressure from the public, it was decided to incorporate it into the new design. The four buildings comprise, on the west of the ruins, the new church with a foyer to its west, and to the east of the ruins, a tower with a chapel to its northeast. The plan of the church is octagonal while the plan of the tower is hexagonal. These components are sited on a plateau measuring 100 metres long and 40 metres wide. The new buildings are constructed of concrete, steel and glass. The walls of the church are made of a concrete honeycomb containing 21,292 stained glass inlays. The glass, designed by Gabriel Loire, was inspired by the colors of the glass in Chartres Cathedral. The predominant color is blue, with small areas of ruby red, emerald green and yellow. The church is 35 metres in diameter and 20.5 metres high with a capacity of over 1,000. Because of the distinctive appearance of the new buildings, it is sometimes nicknamed "Lippenstift und Puderdose” (the lipstick and the powder box) by Berliners. [wikipedia]

The last postcard is very interesting because in the back it has a small picture of the Brandenburger Tor.

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