Saturday, January 15, 2011


Few days ago, I uploaded the Heiligen-Familie-Kirche, a Catholic church in the now-Polish city of Schneidemühl (Pl. Piła). This church is probably the most important landmark in the city, for it is one of the few buildings that survived the war, and a recognizable structure in the town.

The city of Schneidemühl/Piła (sawmill and saw in German and Polish respectively) was on its early history a settlement of German people coming from the west (mainly Brandenburg and Pomerania). The area become Polish on 1368, and Schneidemühl got its city rights in the early 16th century. The town suffered two fires in the following century, along with an outbreak of the Plague in the mid-18th century.

Schneidemühl became officially part of Prussia (Province of Westpreußen) after the first Partition of Poland in 1772. Nine years later, the town was again devastated by fire. In the Napoleonic Wars, Schneidemühl was ceded to the Duchy of Warsaw after the Prussian defeat at Jena. However, the city was granted to Prussia in the Congress of Vienna in 1815. This time, the town belonged to the Grand Duchy of Posen, territory ruled by the King of Prussia in personal union. During this period, the city experienced a big development process. However, the town suffered another fire in 1834. Ironically, Schneidemühl was revisited by another catastrophe, this time a flooding, in the late 19th century.

But the worst was to come. In the final stages of WW2, Adolf Hitler declared Schneidemühl a Festung. The city was assaulted by a joint Polish-Soviet army, and after the attack, over 80% of the city was in ruins. The communist government didn't care about the buildings that could be salvaged. Schneidemühl was then converted into the model Communist city, an architectural mess full of Plattenbäuten, where a true jewel on the Küddow river once stood.

There are few remarkable buildings that survived the war.
  • The Heligen-Familie-Kirche, originally a wooden church from the late-14th century, was rebuilt in brick in 1726, and again in its current neo-baroque form in 1910-12.
  • The Moltkeschule.
  • The Hauptbahnhof, built between 1853-76, extended in the 1920s.
  • The Regierungsgebäude and Reichsbank building, both on Danziger Platz.
  • The Stanislauskirche in Bromberger Vorstadt.
  • The Postamt, which has retained part of its prewar facade.
Notable structures that were lost in the war include:
  • The Rathaus (city hall) on the Neuer Markt
  • The Evangelische Stadtkirche on the Neuer Markt.
  • The Polnisches Kirche (also known as the Alte Katholische Kirche), the oldest church in the city. First a wooden church from the 14th century, it was rebuilt in 1619-28 and 1742, when it got its final shape. The church burnt out in 1945 and its remains were demolished in the 1970s.
My plan is to rebuild some of these buildings in 3D. By now, you can see pictures and information about Schneidemühl/Piła in these two interesting websites (not mine): (German) and (Polish), by the same author. While its kind of difficult to find pictures of this city, I hope to upload more Piła-related models soon. See you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Still in Potsdam - Happy New Year!

In the last week I uploaded three new models to the Warehouse, all of them located in the Brandenburg capital, Potsdam.

The first two are not so far from my Stadtschloss - since they three are on the same square. The Alter Markt is the location of both the Marble Obelisk and the Church of St. Nicholas.

Uploaded on December 25, the Marmorobelisk was my small gift for Christmas. The monument was erected in 1753 by order of Frederick II, by then King in Prussia. It's on the middle of the Old Market, facing both the City Palace to the south and the Nikolaikirche to the north. Construction of the latter began in the 1830s under direction of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, who would not live to see his last work finished. After his death in 1941, his students Ludwig Persius and Friedrich August Stüler oversaw the completion of the neoclassical church, and the dome that was planned by Schinkel.

Regarding the Belvedere auf dem Klausberg, its construction was commissioned by Frederick II to Architect Georg Christian Unger (who built also the Royal Library in Berlin), and was finished in 1772. King Frederick William IV had the Belvedere as an important part of his planned Triumph Avenue that, however, was never realized. The building was to be the end of the Avenue that would have run from the Triumphtor.

The attack carried out by RAF on April 14, 1945 left the Nikolaikirche heavily damaged and the Obelisk with minor scars. The Belvedere, that escaped bombing, was shelled by the Allies by the same time and reduced to rubble, being the staircase the only recognisable remains.

Restoration of the Nikolaikirche and Marmorobelisk begun in the early 1950s, while the Belvedere had to wait until 1990, when the Stiftung Messerschmitt financed the reconstruction. When finished, it was transferred to the Prussian Palaces Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg.