Masters of Mobility


5.6 Changes in Berlin : Churches and Houses

More than in the beginning of Friedrich Wilhelm’s reign, in the 1670s and 1680s there was money for luxury, huge scale projects and impressive architecture. After the death of Louise Henriette, in June 1667,1 Friedrich Wilhelm married Dorothea von Holstein-Glücksburg and kept on spurring his restoration politics. In these years Berlin started to change rapidly. In 1658 the quarter of Berlin called Friedrichwerder had become intra muros and 1666 already 92 houses were built. The number of civilians who were financial able to build a new house or repair their existing houses however was limited. In order to improve the financial situation of these lower classes, the elector decided to reform the tax system by the introduction of excises.2 Within two years, 150 houses were restored. From the 1670s, the Friedrichswerder and new Dorotheenstadt boomed.3 For the exterior of new houses architect Johann Arnold Nering (1659-1695) turned to Holland. Façades with colossal pilasters appeared in Berlin like those realised in Amsterdam by Philips Vingboons [24].4 Most of the façades were designed by Nering. Between 1689 and 1691 repeatedly orders were given, that no one else but Nering should design the houses, under thread of demolition.5 About Nering is said that he has designed over 300 houses.6 Smids himself built a house with nine bays, pilasters and a tympanum, on the corner of Breite Straße and Scharrenstraße.7 In the Dorotheenstadt he had built another house, next to the wharf he founded for Friedrich Wilhelm in 1680.8 As far as the bird’s eye view of Berlin by Johann Bernhard Schulz of 1688 is reliable, Smids’ house had classicist features [25].9

The fact that Brandenburg was getting into a better situation was reflected in the changes of the Berlin residence also.10 In 1679-1681 the wooden booths outside of the palace were removed and replaced by 16 arcades of stone in which tradesmen could sell their goods. The design was made by Johann Arnold Nering, the practical realisation lay in the hands of Michiel Smids.11 In 1684-1686 the over a hundred-year-old big hall of the palace was replaced by the alabaster hall, which served as a meeting room for the nobility. Again, it was the combination Nering-Smids that took care for the about 10 metres high hall, with square metres. The walls were articulated with pilasters and in the niches in between marble statues of emperors and 11 electors, together with a statue of his own, made by Bartholomeus Eggers (c. 1637-1692), were placed [26]. The floor was made out of white and black marble. The ceiling contained stucco and large paintings.12

In 1685 Michiel Smids signed a contract for the building of a new orangery in the palace garden, designed by Johan Nering.13 In 1687, Smids built a new library wing designed by Nering on the eastside of the palace garden, directly along the Spree.14 The building was to be long and wide and should have three pavilions, connected by two galleries.15 The death of the elector, on 9 May 1688 terminated building activities. Only the walls of the ground floor were built [27].16


The Friedrichsgracht around 1910 (from: Gut 1917)

Johann Bernhard Schulz
Bird's eye view of Berlin from the South, dated 1688
Berlin (city, Germany), Stadtmuseum Berlin, inv./ IV 60/59 R

Bartholomeus Eggers
Portrait of Friedrich Wilhelm Kurfürst von Brandenburg (1620-1688), c. 1685-1687 (?)
Berlin (city, Germany), Potsdam, Stiftung Preussische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg

Johann Stridbeck (II)
View of the garden side of the former city palace in Berlin; on the left the unfinished library, c. 1690
Berlin (city, Germany), Stadtmuseum Berlin, inv./ GHZ 64/3,9

Apart from the palace, other projects in Berlin were taken up. The church of the new Dorotheenstadt was realised.17 The town enlargement dated from 1673 and a few years later, Rutger van Langevelt made a design for a church.18 For the building of the church, Michiel Smids was hired in, although his exact activities are not known.19 The church was inaugurated in 1687.20 It was the first new protestant church in Berlin [28]; a cross shaped centralised building, typologically resembling Dutch models like the Nieuwe Kerk in Haarlem by Jacob van Campen (1645-1649), the church of ’s Graveland (1657-1658), of Oudshoorn (1663-1665) by Daniël Stalpaert and the Oosterkerk in Amsterdam (1669-1671) by Adriaan Dortsman. The Dorotheenstädtische Church had, like the Oosterkerk, a cupola vaulting resting on four pillars and in the 18th century it became on its turn a very important model for new churches in Brandenburg.21

Painter-architect Rutger van Langevelt was – as far as yet is known – responsible for the design of only one other building; the palace of Köpenick near (nowadays in) Berlin [29].22 The elector gave Köpenick to his sons in 1674, after the death of Karl Emil, it became the property of Friedrich, the future elector. In palace of three storeys high was realised, with a façade to the water and some axes and avenues to the other side.


The Dorotheenstädtische Church, probably designed by Rutger Langevelt (detail of fig. 25)


The palace of Köpenick, designed by Rutger van Langevelt in the 1670s
Photo: A. Savin Wikimedia Commons), 2014


1 Beuys 1980, p. 275-277.

2 Beuys 1980, p. 256-258, 316-317 and 374.

3 Schachinger 2001, p. 7-10.

4 Mertens 2003, p. 99. The long lost houses Friedrichsgracht 57 and 58 have long been attributed to Michiel Smids.

5 Nicolai 1786, p. 181. Cf. Rudolph 1964 and Rudolph 1965.

6 Heckmann 1998, p. 125.

7 Demps/Geist/Rausch-Ambach 2001, p. 92-93 and 150. For more details and more houses: Van Tussenbroek 2004 and Van Tussenbroek 2006.

8 See in general: Müller 1938.

9 Schachinger 2001, p. 75.

10 Konter 1991; Streidt/Feierabend 1999, p. 78.

11 Heckmann 1998, p. 117. On Nering also: Boeck 1938, p. 35-40, Nehring 1985, p. 5 and Heckmann 1998, p. 123 and 127. Nering also designed the so-called Burgkirche for the castle of Königsberg, in 1687: Fritsch 1935 and Nehring 1985, p. 16-18 and 1693 he improved the water supply of the Berlin city palace and made a design for changes in the hunting lodge of Grunewald near Berlin, built the new electoral stables in the Dorotheenstadt, made a design for the Zeughaus, designed a observatory, that was to be built in the years 1701-1706 by Martin Grünberg. Nering also drew the first designs for the palace of Charlottenburg, that was mainly built after his death. One of his last designs was the Berlin Parochial Church, which was completed by Martin Grünberg: Nehring 1985, p. 26-28; Heckmann 1998, p. 119-125 and Streidt/Feierabend 1999, p. 100.

12 Galland 1893, p. 166-168. About the enlargements outside the palace: Tacke 1990. About 12 statues, ordered by Smids to Bartholomeus Eggers: Seidel 1890, p. 137-8; Galland 1893, p. 221; Upmark 1900, p. 126; Galland 1911, p. 212 and Backschatt 1932, p. 439. On Eggers’ statues of emperors: Halsema-Kubes 1988.

13 Geyer 1936, p. 59, n. 223; Wiesinger 1989, p. 97.

14 About Friedrich Wilhelm’s books: Galland 1911, p. 104-105; Theuerkauff 1981, p. 13-28 and Giersberg/Meckel/ Bartoschek 1988, p. 69.

15 Paunel 1965, p. 22-23; Van Tussenbroek 2004, p. 34-36 and 42-43.

16 Pick 1913; Herzberg/Rieseberg 1987, p. 61.

17 On Dorotheenstadt: Schachinger 2001.

18 On Van Langevelt: Ekkart 2002; Heckmann 1998, p. 89.

19 Güttler 1997, p. 16-19; Schachinger 2001, p. 59-63.

20 Stechow 1887, p. 6-7.

21 Schönfeld 1999, p. 74-95.

22 On Köpenick: Friebe 1907.

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