Tag Archives: Spandau Ballet

Germany, Berlin – a visit to Spandau Citadel and Schloss Charlottenberg

Just a short u-bahn ride from central Berlin takes you to Spandau home of an original fortress since the 1500s. Apparently people in Spandau have not got used to the idea that they are part of Berlin (this happened in 1920) and often say “they are going to Berlin” when they head to the centre of town. Nowadays the citadel is used more for events such as weddings or concerts (they were setting up for a rock festival when I was there). It is very picturesque.

And yes that is a Jewish headstone – it and some others were found when ecavations were taking place – and they date back to the mid 1200s suggesting there was a developed Jewish community here at that time – they were subsequently expelled from Brandendburg in the mid 1500s. At that time it is believed that their gravestones were removed from the grounds and re-purposed as building materials for this castle! They were discovered in the 1950s and 1970s. The place where the Nazi war crimininals were held pending trial was not here but in Spandau prison close by.

I always liked the band Spandau Ballet but now I am not so sure – I checked on where they got the name from – apparently one of the band saw it scrawled on a Berlin nightclub toilet. So far so ok BUT it refers to the way the bodies of many of the hung war criminals twitch and jump on the end of a rope as if dancing. Macabre. Don’t think I will ever listen to them with the same fondness as I used to.

Spandau Zitadelle and Jewish gravestone used as building material

In the Zitadelle’s Unveiled exhibition in the former Provisions Depot you get to wander around massive political monuments which were once located in Berlin but have since been taken down. They cover Prussian Rulers to communist leaders and include the head of Stalin. Actually really very cool as they are all about 20 to 30 feet high – and you can touch them.

Giant political monuments formerly in the city of Berlin

At one point the plans for the 3rd Reich was to rename the new expanded Germany as “Germania” and before the war plans were in place for a new design for Berlin including a new Reichstag building. None of his ever happened due to the War BUT the scale model below shows the egregious over-size of the planned building relative to the current Brandenburg Gate. – which is pretty darned big anyway.

Plan for new Germania Reichstag

Not too far away is Schloss Charlottenburg which was the summer residence for Sophie Charlotte – the wife of Elector Frederick III. It dates back to the late 1600s with extensions in the 1700s. As with many museums in Berlin you go to visit one place and find, in this case, that it is actually made up of 5 places to visit – the Alte Schloss, the New Wing (1800s when Queen Louise lived there), the Mausoleum, the Belvedere and the Neuer Pavilion not to mention beautiful gardens. I managed four of the five – will have to do the Belvedere next time plus two very good museums right outside! The rulers during the period 1620 to 1941 were the Hohenzollern family. It is believed that Napoleon spent one night here – not by invitation!

The front and back of Schloss Charlottenburg

Spacious rooms in the Alte Schloss

The Golden Gallerie in the New Wing

A beautifully Shinkel designed bedroom for Queen Louise. Silk fabric walls.

Gorgeous room designs in the New Wing. Did Napoleon sleep in the bed behind the curtain?

Art and furniture in the New Wing

The Mausoleum in the grounds where the Hohenzollern are interned.

A bevy of swans including some teenage cygnets that I spotted in the gardens