Establishment of a Collegiate Church in Berlin (1451-1536)
The history of today's Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church and its community dates back to 1451. In that year Prince-Elector Frederick II Irontooth of Brandenburg moved with his residence from Brandenburg upon Havel to Cölln (today's Fishers' Island, the southern part of Museum Island) into the newly erected Berlin Castle, which also housed a Catholic castle chapel. In 1454 Frederick Irontooth, after having returned - via Rome - from his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, elevated the castle chapel to become a parish church, richly endowing it with relics and altars and making it consecrated to Erasmus of Formiae.
On 20 January 1469 - at Frederick Irontooth's request - Pope Paul II attributed to St Erasmus Chapel a canon-law College named Stift zu Ehren Unserer Lieben Frauen, des heiligen Kreuzes, St. Petri und Pauli, St. Erasmi und St. Nicolai dedicated to Mary(am) of Nazareth, the Holy Cross, Simon Peter, Paul of Tarsus, Erasmus of Formiae, and Nicholas of Myra. A collegiate church is a church endowed with revenues and earning estates, in order to provide a number of canons, called in canon law a College, with prebendaries. In this respect a collegiate church is similar to a cathedral, which is why in colloquial German the term cathedral college (Domstift), became the synecdoche used - pars pro toto - for all canon-law colleges. So the college of St. Erasmus' chapel, called Domstift in German, bestowed the pertaining church its colloquial naming, Domkirche (cathedral church). Frederick II provided the College with estates, sufficient to supply prebendaries for eight canons.
The Collegiate Church Residing in the former Black Friars' Church of St. Paul's south of the Castle (1536-1747)
In 1535 Prince-Elector Joachim II Hector reached the consent of Pope Paul III to shut down the 1297-founded Dominican convent (Black Friars), southerly neighboured to the castle, to acquire the pertaining monastic St. Paul's Church, built ca. in 1345. On 28 May 1536 most of the Black Friars moved to a Dominican monastery in Brandenburg upon Havel. Joachim II Hector assigned the thus void, three-nave church building to the collegiate church and enlarged the College to 12 prebendaries, bestowing two of them to canons taken on from the Dominican convent. From 1545 on the electoral family of Hohenzollern used the church building also as their burial place.
In 1538 a new western façade with two towers was attached to the collegiate church, which - due to its prior status as a church of a mendicant order - had no tower before. In the next year Joachim II Hector converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism, as earlier had done many of his subjects. The collegiate church thus became Lutheran too, like most of the electoral subjects and all the churches in the Electorate. However, Joachim II Hector's ideas of Reformation were different from the modern ones. After his conversion he enriched the collegiate church with luxuriant furnishings, such as paraments, monstrances, relics, chasubles, carpets and antependia.
In 1608, the year of his acceession to the throne, Prince-Elector John Sigismund, then a crypto-Calvinist, dissolved the college and the church was renamed into Supreme Parish Church of St. Trinity in Cölln. In 1613 John Sigismund publicly confessed his Calvinist faith (in Germany usually called Reformed Church), but waived his privilege to demand the same of his subjects (Cuius regio, eius religio). So he and his family, except of his steadfastly Lutheran wife, converted, while most of his subjects remained Lutherans. While Berlin's other churches, subject to Lutheran city-council jurisdiction, remained Lutheran, the Supreme Parish Church of St. Trinity, the Hohenzollern's house church, became Berlin's first, and until 1695 only Calvinist church, serving from 1632 on as the parish for all Calvinists in town. Being now a Calvinist church the patronage of the Holy Trinity was increasingly skipped.
In 1667 the dilapidated double-tower façade was torn down and in 1717 Martin Böhme erected a new baroque façade with two towers. In 1747 the Supreme Parish Church was completely demolished to clear space for the baroque extension of the castle.
The Supreme Parish Church Residing in its new Building north of the Castle (1750-1893)
J. Boumann the Elder built it.]] On 6 September 1750 the new baroque Calvinist Supreme Parish Church was inaugurated, built by Johann Boumann the Elder in 1747-1750. The electoral tombs were translated to the new building. The new structure covered a space north of the castle, which is still covered by the present buildung.
In 1817 - under the auspices of King Frederick William III of Prussia - the community of the Supreme Parish Church, like most Prussian Calvinist and Lutheran congregations joined the common umbrella organisation named Evangelical Church in Prussia (under this name since 1821), with each congregation maintaining its former denomination or adopting the new united denomination. The community of the Supreme Parish Church adopted the new denomination of the Prussian Union.
In celebration of the Union Karl Friedrich Schinkel remodelled the interior in the same year and in 1820-1822 the exterior of Boumann's church in the neoclassicist style. The Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church faced at its southern façade the city palace, the destroyed former palace of the Hohenzollern, and the Lustgarten park at its western front, which is still there.
The Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church Residing in the Present Building (1905 to date)
However, in the 19th c. a new building was under discussion since long, but the post-Napoléonic poverty made its realisation impossible. After dismantling the movable interior (altar, paintings, sarcophagae), Boumann's building was exploded in 1893 and Julius and Otto Raschdorff, father and son, built the present Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church in exuberant forms of high renaissance style. With no separation of Protestant church and state of Prussia, William II officiated as the summus episcopus (Supreme Governor of the Evangelical State Church of Prussia's older Provinces, as it was named since 1875) and the state paid the complete construction cost of 11,5 million Marks. At Шаблон:Convert long, Шаблон:Convert wide and Шаблон:Convert tall, it was much larger than any of the previous buildings and was considered a Protestant counterweight to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. On February 27, 1905 the present building was inaugurated.
In 1940 the blast waves of Allied bombing blew part of the windows away. On May 24, 1944, a bomb of combustible liquids entered the dome. The fire could not be extinguished at that unreachable section of the dome. So the dome burnt out, part of its construction collapsed into the prayer hall. Between 1949 and 1953 the dome was closed again by a temporary roof. In 1975 reconstruction started, simplifying the building's original design and tearing down the northern wing (the memorial hall). In 1980 the baptistery and wedding church was reopened for services. The restoration of the main prayer hall was begun in 1984. On 6 June 1993 the big prayer hall was reinaugurated in an event attended by Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl and televised nationwide in Germany.
The Main Organ in the Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church
The pipe organ, built by Wilhelm Sauer, was fully restored during reconstruction. It has 113 stops, including three ranks of 32' pipes on the pedal division, played by a 4-manual console:
- II/I, III/I, IV/I, Super I, III/II, IV/II, Super II, IV/III, I/P, II/P, III/P, IV/P
- 3 Freie Kombinationen, Mezzoforte, Forte, Tutti, Rohrwerke, Jalousieschweller III. Manual, Jalousieschweller IV. Manual, Jalousieschweller Vox humana, Handregister ab, Rückpositiv ab.
- Wolfgang Gottschalk, Altberliner Kirchen in historischen Ansichten, Würzburg: Weidlich, 1985. ISBN 3-8035-1262-X.
- Arno Hach, Alt-Berlin im Spiegel seiner Kirchen: Rückblicke in die versunkene Altstadt (11933), Ammerbuch: Beggerow, 22002. ISBN 3-936103-00-3.
- Günther Kühne and Elisabeth Stephani, Evangelische Kirchen in Berlin (11978), Berlin: CZV-Verlag, 21986. ISBN 3-7674-0158-4.
- Ingo Materna and Wolfgang Ribbe, Geschichte in Daten – Brandenburg, Munich and Berlin: Koehler & Amelang, 1995. ISBN 3-7338-0188-1.
- Michael Pohl, Die Grosse Sauer-Orgel im Berliner Dom [CD]. Ursina Motette. ISSN 4-008950-117812.
- Berlin Cathedral (history, description, visitor information).
- Berlin Cathedral - Panorama
- Berlin Cathedral, its destruction and restoration
- Berlin webcam including view of Berlin Cathedral and the Palace of the Republic