I am not the only person who thinks Gendarmenmarkt is the most beautiful place in Berlin.
Just ask every other tour in the city and you will here the same answer.
At first glance the square doesn’t look extra special. many classic European squares look somewhat similar, with the same renaissance style.
But consider the extreme destruction this city has gone through during WWII, it is actually quite rare to find such a remnant in the city center.
That not to say artillery and air raids did not damaged Gendarmenmarkt. The beautiful buildings here almost collapsed after the war, but an amazing restoration work made it possible for us to enjoy the place like in old times.
The square got its name after a battalion of gendarmes that was stationed here in the 18th century.
The French Church was built for the Huguenots community that escaped Louis XIV and found refuge in Berlin during the 17th century. And today the church has a nice restaurant and a museum of the Huguenots’ history.
The German church on the other side of the square was design to look similar to the French church to make the square symmetric. This church belongs to the Lutheran community. And today it’s a museum of German history.
The Konzerthaus Berlin is the most recent building here, it was built by the famous Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1821 on the ruins of the National Theatre. Today, it is the home of the Konzerthausorchester Berlin.
Nearby Gendarmenmarkt, Bebelplatz is also a stunning looking square.
With the Berlin State Opera building, St. Hedwig's Cathedral and the Humboldt University. Bebel Platz is also a very important historical square. Here in may the 10th 1933 a group of students and professors burned 20,000 books as part of a Nazi campaign to purify the German culture as they saw it.
The books were those written by Jewish, pacifist, socialist, and communist authors among others.
Some of the most famous names are: Karl max, Tomas Man and Heinrich Heine who wrote in his play “Almansor” the famous sentence: “That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well."
It is chilling to grasp the fact this is what actually happened in the end.
Behind Bebelplatz the Friedrichswerder Church is an historically important church that was built by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Today it is permanently close due to structural damage from nearby building activity.
Next to it, the Bauakademie was also built by Karl Schinkel. It was a place were master builders learn about the high art of architecture while ignoring the technical aspects of construction.
It was destroyed during WWII and today it is an alternative culture center. you can enter between the ruins, in the middle of the night, to find techno parties on some weekends