Friday, July 9, 2010

Old Berlin

The East and West Berlin both had different interpretations on how they would identify the Old Berlin. The west was more favorable towards preserving the old palaces and other royal architectural monuments. The communist east was quick to tear down the remains of the ruins and rebuild monumental architecture. The German’s were upset about the Soviet’s reconstruction of their city because it was reminded them of Hitler’s architecture which included a stone fa├žade that was stripped of ornamentation, had simplified columns, and was thoroughly proportional and symmetrical. It was hardly comparable to their old beautiful Baroque style palaces they once identified themselves with. The divide is evident as you walk through the city and observe the different urban fabric that was developed over time. Christo said “Because Berlin is the site of physical encounter of East and West, of two value systems and ways of life, it has the richest and most varied texture of any town in the world” The Ghosts of Berlin.

Berlin became a city of cranes after the devastation and destruction of their city after WWII. There was a lot of public debate and political controversy on what was to be rebuilt, restored, or destroyed. Some of the historical preservationist thought that the idea of rebuilding was of ‘historical ignorance’. It is evident as you experience the city that there is a ‘falsification of history’. Siedler said that “the architectural history of Berlin, like that of Europe, is a history of counterfeits” The Ghosts of Berlin. Many German’s wanted to rebuild their royal palaces and cathedrals because they valued them as historical monuments that formed their city’s identity. There were others in defense that didn’t find it necessary to rebuild a palace where there is no longer a monarchy.

The Brandenburg Gate remains one the authentic architectural monuments and national symbol of Berlin. It was rebuilt under Fredrick Wilhelm II and since its reconstruction it has seen many transformations. It’s original name was the “Gate of Peace” and then after Napoleon’s defeat it became the “Gate of Victory”. Its symbol was most profound to Berlin under the division. The Berlin wall stood just before the end of the Unter den Linden Boulevard where the Brandenburg Gate was located. The Brandenburg Gate belonged to the east where they placed their red flag at the top. The symbolic gate that was once a national arched walkway for the military to march under was now an enormous barrier that protected the east from the west. The east also placed banners that hung in between the columns to block any visual contact with the west. The west placed a banner in front of the gate that said “Abandon all hope, ye who entered here” The Ghost of Berlin. After the unification, it still stands today as German’s most valuable national symbols. It has stood through the major struggles in Berlin’s history and will still be firmly standing before many generations to come, telling the story of its historic city.

No comments:

Post a Comment