Sunday, November 21, 2010

Back to Potsdam

And today I uploaded two more models, this time in Potsdam, core city of Brandenburg-Prussia, and its succesor state, the Kingdom of Prussia.

First, the Jägertor.

Built in 1733, the Jägertor ("Hunter's Tor") was part of the city wall that protected Potsdam by the 18th century. It was located at the northern section of the wall, where now a promenade is on its place. The section connected the Jägertor with the Nauener Tor to the East, and the (small) Brandenburg Gate to the West.

A scupture is placed at the top of the gate, showing three dogs hunting a deer as part of the typical hunting season scene.

And now, let's go with the Französische Kirche.

The French Church of Potsdam was built between 1752 and 1753 as a result of the Edict of Potsdam from about 70 years earlier. The religious freedom that the Kingdom offered to foreigners attracted a number of French Huguenots, expelled from their land. The Church was one of the last works by Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, built by order of Frederick the Great and based in the Pantheon in Rome.

Despite several renovations and changes, the church was lucky enough to escape WWII untouched, as you can see above. Currently the Französische Kirche is the oldest church in Potsdam (the Garrison Church, built between 1730 and 1735, was demolished by the Communist regime in 1968).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


21 years ago, in the afternoon of November 9, 1989, Gunter Schabowski announced the opening of all the border crossings between West and East Germany. For this occassion, I have uploaded two new models, both related to this history.

I will start with the Weinhaus Huth.

Photograph from 1912.

Located in Alte Potsdamer Straße 5 / Linkstraße 45, the Haus Huth opened in 1912 as home to the wine restaurant and cellar of William Huth, a wine merchant whose second great-grandfather was Wine Cellar Master to Frederick the Great. This building stood in the place of another building, owned by the Willy's father, Friedrich Christian Huth. The new building was constructed with a steel skeleton to resist the wine storage space, which was located in the upper floor. This feature allowed the building to remain almost unscathed 33 years later, after the attack carried by USAF in February 1945. The restaurant was reopened in June of the same year.

During the years of the Berlin Wall, that section of Potsdamer Straße was closed to car traffic - the Wall was at one end and in the other one was the construction site for the Staatsbibliothek. After the German inner border came down, the building was restored. It's now in the center of the Daimler-Chrysler complex.

The second model is, of course, the Brandenburg Gate.

Before 1788, this gate, part of the Berlin excise wall (Gr. Akzisemauer), consisted in two simple guardhouses dating from circa 1735.

The current structure was built between 1788 and 1791 by architect Carl Gotthart Langhans and the Quadriga sculpted by J. G. Schadow. Several events in German history have been related directly to the Gate. Napoleon I of France took the sculpture in 1906 after the Prussian defeat at Jena. The Quadriga was retrieved from Paris in 1914 and the Iron Cross was added, turning it into a symbol of Victory. The Brandenburg Gate was also place for some celebrations during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

The Brandenburg Gate was also the beggining of the great Unter den Linden boulevard, that led to the Stadtschloss and city centre.

View from Siegessäule

The Brandenburger Tor was one of the few remaining buildings standing in Pariser Platz after WW2, (the other being the Academy of Fine Arts and the Adlon Hotel). Following the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Gate was used as a border crossing only for West Berliners, opening in August 13, 1961 - although it was closed in the next day. The crossing - the Gate - was reopened in December 1989.

During the Fall of the Wall - November 9, 1989

It's now, at the same time, the only remaining building from prewar Parisier Platz, and the only remaining gate from both city walls (Hallesches Tor was destroyed in WW2, the war damaged Potsdamer Tor was demolished in the 1950; part of the Oranienburger Tor can be found outside the Borsig-Werke).