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Column “Berliner Truffle”: The blue miracle at Breitscheidplatz

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A warning sign hangs at the entrance to the new Memorial Church, which is located between Tauentzien, Kurfürstendamm and Budapester Strasse. “This is a place of silence” is written on it, and crossed-out pictograms indicate what is undesirable: using the mobile phone, discussing, speaking loudly.

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Anyone who crosses this lock enters a counterforce to the noisy activity of the surrounding shopping malls. Time seems to have stood still in this church room, meditative calm lies over everything. Which doesn’t mean it’s really quiet. If you’re lucky, the organist is rehearsing a few etudes on his instrument.

Breitscheidplatz is a symbolic place charged with history. Towering over it is the half-ruined main tower of the old Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, a neo-Romanesque bastion that burned down in November 1943 after a British air raid. Instead of tearing it down as originally planned, the “hollow tooth” – as it was lovingly and mockingly nicknamed – was left standing in the reconstruction era as a memorial for peace.

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The architect Egon Eiermann grouped his new buildings inaugurated in 1961 – the octagonal church, a flat rectangular chapel and the hexagonal bell tower – around the ruins. Eiermann responded to the historicist pathos of the previous building, in whose mosaics, which have survived to this day, the ruling house of the Hohenzollern is glorified, with the sober modernism of his grid facades.

What exudes the rationality of an industrially manufactured functional building from the outside unfolds great spirituality on the inside. Around 20,000 stained glass windows transform the church into a glowing blue grotto. A figure of Christ with outstretched arms hovers above the altar, designed by the sculptor Karl Hemmeter.

The square windows come from the glass painter Gabriel Loire from Chartres and were inserted precisely into the concrete honeycomb. If you get closer, red, green and yellow specks can be seen. The atmosphere in the room changes depending on the intensity and angle of incidence of the light.

A nicer place to take a deep breath and let your thoughts wander can hardly be found in Berlin.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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