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Gotic Church of Kaiser William

Gotic Church of Kaiser William (35)

This church is situated in Charlottenburg, very close to the Zoologischer Garten train station. 

It commemorates the fact that William II commissioned its construction in honour of his grandfather. William wanted to build an enormous temple, the most impressive in the city - something which he achieved. The church was finished in 1895 and the results were even better than those expected. Berlin now had a spectacular neo-Romanic style temple designed by Franz Schewchten. 

But the church’s impressiveness was not enough to save it from the effects of bombing during the war. An attack in 1943 left it practically in ruins, only the tower you see today was left standing.

With the division of Berlin, the church found itself in the Western zone, and despite the government’s intention of restoring it to its original form, the city’s inhabitants refused. For them it was important to keep it in its state of ruin as testimony to the horror of war.

The citizens got their way and it was not rebuilt. However, what the authorities did do was build a hexagonal bell tower and another building in the same design as the one destroyed but with an octagonal-shaped floor. The tower mentioned above sits between these two modern buildings. The result of all this is a contrast which grabs the attention even from a distance. 

Berliners call the tower ´the angry molar` because its upper part looks like a crater, being completely destroyed. And it really would be true to say that it does look like a tooth in need of a good filling.

Inside you have the possibility of seeing a small but very interesting exhibition of the church’s history. You can also view some parts of the original church which have been preserved, these include some beautiful golden mosaics. 

What is known today as the modern, octagonal-shaped church was built between 1959 and 1961 and called ´Adoration Hall`. 

Inside you will notice a warm blue light which comes from the stained glass windows, creating a lovely atmosphere in great contrast to the grey of the exterior. Over the simple alter there is a golden Christ while there is also a charcoal drawing, ´The Madonna of Stalingrad`, by Doctor Kurt Reuber, chief of medicine of the German forces trapped in Stalingrad during the winter of 1942. While he was in the Russian city’s prison he painted this Madonna. He later died in a Siberian prisoner of war camp.  

Behind the ruined church, in the 1960’s hexagonal bell tower, also known as ´the lipstick`, you will find a fair trade shop.

´The Angry Molar` is one of Berlin’s most visited monuments because of its symbolic meaning, while the view of this ruined church surrounded by so many modern buildings continues to be surprising and fascinating.

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