Franz Schwechten

Charlottenburg

[shahr-lot-n-burg; Ger. shahr-lawt-n-boork]

Charlottenburg is a locality of Berlin within the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, named after Queen Sophia Charlotte (1668-1705). It is best known for Charlottenburg Palace, the largest surviving royal palace in Berlin, and the adjacent museums.

Charlottenburg was an independent city to the west of Berlin until 1920 it was incorporated into "Groß-Berlin" (Greater Berlin) and transformed into a borough. In the course of Berlin's 2001 administrative reform it was merged with the former borough of Wilmersdorf becoming a part of a new borough called Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. Later, in 2004, the new borough's districts were rearranged, dividing the former borough of Charlottenburg into the localities Westend, Charlottenburg-Nord and Charlottenburg. In addition to that, Charlottenburg features a number of popular kiezes.

Charlottenburg celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2005.

Geography

Charlottenburg is located in Berlin's inner city, west of the Tiergarten park. Its historic core Alt Lietzow is situated near the river Spree within the Berlin-Warsaw glacial valley. The Straße des 17. Juni (17th June Street), former Charlottenburger Chaussee, which runs eastwards through the Tiergarten park to Brandenburg Gate, connects Charlottenburg with the historic centre of Berlin-Mitte. Adjacent in the south is the territory of Wilmersdorf.

History

Early settlements

On the land occupied by Charlottenburg there were three settlements in the late Middle Ages: the farmsteads Lietzow (pronounced leat-tsov) and Casow (pr. caasov) and a further settlement called Glienicke (pr. gleanicke). Although these names are of Slavic origin, the settlements are likely to have had a mixed Slavic and German population.

Lietzow (also called Lietze, Lutze, Lutzen, Lütze, Lützow, Lusze and Lucene) is first documented in 1239, and was in the area of the present day Alt-Lietzow Street behind the town hall. Casow laid opposite of Lietzow, on the other side of the Spree river. In 1315, Lietzow and Casow became the property of the Sankt Marien nunnery in Spandau. As a result, the Lietzow farmstead probably was expanded to a village. In the course of the Protestant Reformation, Joachim II Hector, Elector of Brandenburg, confiscated the estates and dissolved the nunnery in 1558.

While Lietzow has been populated continuously, Casow and Glienicke were abandoned. From old field names it is believed that Glienicke lay in the area of the present day streets Kantstraße, Fasanenstraße, Kurfürstendamm and Uhlandstraße at the former Gliniker Lake (now dry, there's another Glienicke Lake in theWannsee locality).

The development of Lietzow is well documented. For more than four hundred years, members of the Berendt family were mayors and thus had to pay lower taxes. Ecclestiastically, Lietzow came under the pastor of Wilmersdorf, who reached it from there by the so-called 'Priesterweg' (priest's way), on the line of the streets now called Leibnizstraße, Konstanzer Straße and Brandenburgische Straße.

Charlottenburg palace

In 1695, Sophia Charlotte of Hanover received Lietzow from her husband, Elector Frederick III, in exchange for her estates in Caputh and Langerwisch, near Potsdam. Frederick had a summer residence built there for Sophie Charlotte by the architect Johann Arnold Nering between 1695 and 1699. After Frederick became Frederick I, King in Prussia, the palace was extended into a stately building with a cours d'honneur. This work was supervised by the Swedish master builder Johann Friedrich Eosander. Shortly after the death of Sophie Charlotte, the settlement facing the palace was called Charlottenburg - the palace itself Schloss Charlottenburg - and chartered as a town on April 5, 1705. The king was the town's mayor until the historic village of Lietzow was incorporated into Charlottenburg in 1720.

Frederick's successor as king, Frederick William I of Prussia, rarely stayed at the palace, which depressed the small town of Charlottenburg. Frederick William even tried to revoke the town's privileges. It was not until 1740, at the coronation of his successor Frederick II, that the town's significance increased, as regular celebrations were held again at the palace. The eastern New Wing was built by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1740 and 1747 as Frederick the Great's residence. Later, Frederick II preferred the palace of Sanssouci, which he had partly designed himself.

When Frederick II died in 1786, his nephew Frederick William II succeeded him, and Charlottenburg became his favourite residence, as it was for his son and successor Frederick William III. After the defeat of the Prussian army at Jena in 1806, Charlottenburg was occupied by the French. Napoleon occupied the palace, while his troops made camp nearby. Charlottenburg became part of the new Prussian Province of Brandenburg in 1815 after the Napoleonic Wars.

Recreational and residential area

In the late 18th century, Charlottenburg's development did not depend only on the crown. The town became a recreational area for the expanding city of Berlin. Its first true inn opened in the 1770s, in the street then called Berliner Straße (now Otto-Suhr-Allee), and many other inns and beer gardens were to follow, popular for weekend parties especially. Berliners seeking leisure and entertainment came by boat, by carriage and later by horse-drawn trams, above all to a large amusement park at the shore of the Spree river called Flora, that went into bankruptcy in 1904.

From the 1860s on the wealthy Bourgeoisie of Berlin discovered Charlottenburg as a residential area, among the first was Ernst Werner von Siemens, who had a villa built in the Berliner Straße in 1862. At the same time industrial companies like the Siemens AG and Schering erected large factories in the north-east, at the border to the City of Berlin. In 1877 Charlottenburg received town privileges and until World War I saw an enormous increase of population with 100,000 inhabitants as of 1893 and a population of 306,000 in 1920, being the second largest city within the Province of Brandenburg, after Berlin.

The development was accompanied by an urban planning of broad streets and sidewalks, parks and spacious residential buildings, especially around the southern Kurfürstendamm area, which enabled large parts of Charlottenburg to preserve their affluent residential character. "The richest town of Prussia" established a Royal Technical College in 1879 (which later became the Technical University), a new town hall with a 88 m/ 289 ft tall spire on the occasion of its 200-year jubilee in 1905 and an opera house in 1912. The history of Charlottenburg as a municipality in its own right ended by the Greater Berlin Act of October 1, 1920, when the town became a part of Berlin. The Province of Brandenburg was administered in Charlottenburg from 1918 until the province's dissolution in 1946 after World War II.

Borough of Berlin

In the 1920s the area around the Kurfürstendamm evolved to the "New West" of Berlin, a development that had already started around 1900 with the opening of the Theater des Westens, the Café des Westens and the Kaufhaus des Westens, followed by several theatres, cinemas, bars and restaurants, which made Charlottenburg the Berlin centre of leisure and nightlife. Artists like Alfred Döblin, Otto Dix, Gottfried Benn, Else Lasker-Schüler, Bertolt Brecht, Max Liebermann, Stefan Zweig and Friedrich Hollaender socialized in the legendary Romanisches Café at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. However the days of the Golden Twenties came to an end with the rise of the Nazi Party. In World War II the area around the Breitscheidplatz was heavily damaged by air raids and the Battle of Berlin.

Nevertheless after 1945 the Kurfürstendamm area quickly regained its importance, as with the partition of the city in the Cold War it became the commercial centre of West-Berlin. It was therefore the site of protests and major demonstrations of the late 1960s German student movement, that culminated on June 2, 1967 when student Benno Ohnesorg was shot by a police officer during a demonstration against Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi at the Deutsche Oper, where the Shah together with President Heinrich Lübke and Mayor Heinrich Albertz attended "The Magic Flute".

After 1990 German reunification Charlottenburg struggled with the rise of the Mitte borough as Berlin's historic centre, though today the "City West" is still the main shopping area, offering several major hotels, theatres, bars and restaurants.

Sights

Beside the palace, Charlottenburg is also home to:

Theatres

Museums

both located in the former Garde du Corps barracks at Charlottenburg Palace, built by Friedrich August Stüler 1859

External links

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