Berlin Cathedral

Berlin Cathedral (Deutsch. Berliner Dom) is the colloquial naming of the Evangelical Oberpfarr- und Domkirche (English analogously: Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church, literally Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church) in Berlin, Germany. It is the parish church of the Evangelical congregation Gemeinde der Oberpfarr- und Domkirche zu Berlin, a member of the umbrella organisation Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia. Its present building is located on Museum Island in the Mitte borough. The Berlin Cathedral had never been a cathedral in the actual sense of that term, since Berlin, let alone this Cathedral, had never been the seat of a Catholic bishop. When in 1930 the Holy See for the first time established a Catholic diocese of Berlin, the Berlin Cathedral had long been a Protestant church. St. Hedwig's Cathedral serves as seat of Berlin's Metropolitan bishop. Function and title of bishop, as used in the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg (under this name 1945-2003), comprise the Protestant bishop's regular preaching in St. Mary's Church, Berlin, being the bishop's domicile church with Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church being the second seat.

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:

I Hauptwerk C–a3
Prinzipal 16′
Majorbaß 16′
Prinzipal 8′′
Doppelflöte 8
Prinzipal amabile 8′
Flute harmonique 8′
Viola di Gamba 8′
Bordun 8′
Gemshorn 8′
Quintatön 8′
Harmonika 8′
Gedacktquinte 51/3′
Oktave 4′
Flute octaviante 4′
Fugara 4′
Rohrflöte 4′
Oktave 2′
Rauschquinte II
Gosscymbel III
Scharff III–V
Kornett III–IV
Bombarde 16′
Trompete 8′
Clairon 4′
II Brustwerk C–a3
Prinzipal 16′
Quintatön 16′
Prinzipal 8′
Doppelflöte 8′
Geigenprinzipal 8′
Spitzflöte 8′
Salicional 8′
Soloflöte 8′
Dulciana 8′
Rohrflöte 8′
Oktave 4′
Spitzflöte 4′′
Salicional 4
Flauto Dolce 4′
Quinte 22/3′
Piccolo 2′
Mixtur IV
Cymbel III
Kornett III
Tuba 8′
Klarinette 8′
III Schwellwerk C–a3
Salicional 16′
Bordun 16′
Prinzipal 8′
Hohlflöte 8′
Gemshorn 8′
Schalmei 8′
Konzertflöte 8′
Dolce 8′
Gedeckt 8′
Unda maris 8′
Oktave 4′
Gemshorn 4′
Quintatön 4′
Traversflöte 4′
Nasard 22/3′
Waldflöte 2′
Terz 23/5′
Mixtur III
Trompete 8′
Cor anglais 8′


Flötenprinzipal 8′
Flöte 8′
Gedackt 8′
Dulciana 8′
Zartflöte 4′
IV Schwellwerk C–a3
Lieblich Gedackt 16′
Prinzipal 8′
Traversflöte 8′
Spitzflöte 8′
Lieblich Gedackt 8′
Quintatön 8′
Aeoline 8′
Voix céleste 8′
Prestant 4′
Fernflöte 4′
Violine 4′
Gemshornquinte 22/3′
Flautino 2′
Harmonia aetheria III
Trompete 8′
Oboe 8′
Vox Humana 8′
Tremolo zu Vox humana
Pedal C–f1
Prinzipal 32′
Untersatz 32′
Prinzipal 16′
Offenbaß 16′
Violon 16′
Subbaß 16′
Gemshorn 16′
Liebliche Gedackt 16′
Quintbaß 102/3′
Prinzipal 8′
Flötenbaß 8′
Violoncello 8′
Gedackt 8′
Dulciana 8′
Quinte 51/3′
Oktave 4′
Terz 31/5′
Quinte 22/3′
Septime 22/7′
Oktave 2′
Mixtur III
Kontraposaune 32′
Posaune 16′
Fagott 16′
Trompete 8′
Clairon 4′
  • 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.



External links

Listed in the following categories:
Post a comment
Tips & Hints
Arrange By:
Florian Atkins-Winston
2 December 2012
Absolute German historical and architectural wonder. It is a must-climb, just like you don't skip Notre Dame de Paris or Westminster Abbey. The view is absolutely stunning and the bells wonderful.
Phat Buoy
21 October 2014
Absolutely stunning Cathedral. Beautiful in sunlight. If you want to climb to the top please note the opening and closing times:,en/
Emma Wijninga
10 August 2014
Entrance is €7, which is a lot, but still worth it. Beautiful place of worship, make sure to walk up to the top of the dome, for a great panoramic view over Berlin.
Jake Smith
7 July 2015
Head up on a nice day for great views of the city. Be sure to linger as long as you want at the top, and take a picture from directly above the Lustgarden.
Shaileshwori Sharma
30 January 2016
Great to see even from outside. Tip: go in the evening & stay in the park for thousands of birds coming home. It's a natural panorama that is unforgettable.
Nancy Scott
15 October 2018
Worth climbing the 270 steps to the outer walkway of the dome. Stunning panoramic views as good if not better than the TV tower.
Load more comments
Ilya P, jd wuz here and 459,589 more people have been here

Hotels nearby

See all hotels See all
Park Inn by Radisson Berlin Alexanderplatz

starting $460

H4 Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz

starting $308

Motel One Berlin-Hackescher Markt

starting $84

Lux 11 Berlin Mitte

starting $660

St. Christopher's Apartments Berlin

starting $95

St. Christopher's Hostel Berlin

starting $48

Recommended sights nearby

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
DDR Museum

The DDR Museum is an interactive museum in the centre of Berlin. The

Add to wishlist
I've been here

The Lustgarten ('Pleasure Garden') is a park on Museum Island in

Add to wishlist
I've been here

The AquaDom in Berlin, Germany, is a 25 meter tall cylindrical acrylic

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Antikensammlung Berlin

The Antikensammlung Berlin (Berlin antiquities collection) is one of

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Altes Museum

The Altes Museum (German for Old Museum), is one of several

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Egyptian Museum of Berlin

The Egyptian Museum of Berlin (Deutsch. Ägyptisches Museum und

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Neues Museum

The Neues Museum (New Museum), located north of (behind) the Altes

Add to wishlist
I've been here

Schloßplatz (German for 'Palace Square') is a square on Museum Island

Similar tourist attractions

See all See all
Add to wishlist
I've been here
Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris ('Our Lady of Paris' in French) is a Gothic

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Milan Cathedral

Milan Cathedral (Italian: Duomo di Milano; Milanese: Domm de Milan) is

Add to wishlist
I've been here
St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York

Saint Patrick's Cathedral is a

Add to wishlist
I've been here
Cologne Cathedral

Cologne Cathedral (German: Kölner Dom, officially Hohe Domkirche St.

Add to wishlist
I've been here
St. Vitus Cathedral

Saint Vitus's Cathedral (Katedrála svatého Víta) is a Roman Ca

See all similar places