History Französischer Dom l Huguenots
Gendarmenmarkt with concert hall and Französischer Dom around 1800

Französischer Dom

Black and white picture with house of the church

Construction of Französische Kirche on the Friedrichstadt

In 1685, Elector Frederick William I allowed Protestant religious refugees from France to settle in Brandenburg. A colony of so-called Huguenots develops outside the Berlin fortress walls. In 1701, King Frederick I approves the construction of a French church on the market square of the district. The construction is financed and organized by the community itself. The two architects are also "Réfugiés": Jean Cayart and Abraham Quesnay.

Painted picture of Gendarmenmarkt in the earlier years

Piazza de Popolo, Rom, 1770, Stiftung Händel-Haus Halle


Gendarmenmarkt based on the Roman model?

In 1777, King Frederick II commissions the architect Carl von Gontard to redesign the Gendarmenmarkt in a representative manner. In the future, Berlin should be able to compete with the other European capitals. Carl von Gontard designed two magnificent domed towers as decorative elements, symmetrically framing the square. He thus took up a wish of Frederick II, who was presumably inspired by the twin churches on the Piazza del Popolo in Rome. For Französischer Dom, the Huguenot community has to give up its cemetery and, in compensation, receives the right to use the tower "for all time" free of charge.


Piazza de Popolo, Rom, 1770, Stiftung Händel-Haus Halle

Gendarmenmarkt with concert hall and French Cathedral to be seen, with many horses and people on the square.

Carl Georg Enslen, Panorama Gendarmenmarkt, 1822/1835, Sammlung Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin


The construction of Französischer Dom

On May 27, 1780, the foundation stone for Französischer Dom was laid. The towers in front of the French and German Churches quickly grew in height. But on July 28, 1781, the tower of the German Church collapses. Both cathedrals are demolished and rebuilt with reinforced masonry under the supervision of Georg Christian Unger. On August 16, 1785, the congregation receives the keys. It quickly became common practice to no longer distinguish between church and tower, but simply to speak of "Französischer Dom".






Carl Georg Enslen, Panorama of the Gendarmenmarkt, c. 1822/1835, Sammlung Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin, reproduction: Oliver Ziebe, Berlin

The concert hall and the French Cathedral behind a cyclist and horse carriages

Postkarte um 1911


Reconstruction of Französische Kirche

Over the centuries, the ensemble of Französische Kirche and Französischer Dom has become dilapidated. In 1905, the well-known Berlin architect Otto March began to rebuild it: He adapted the church facade to the late Baroque cathedral tower, completely rebuilt the interior of the church and designed it in neo-Baroque style, in keeping with the taste of the time. March's plans and drawings will be used by the GDR in the 1980s as a template for the reconstruction of the ensemble.



Postkarte um 1911

Aerial view of Gendarmenmarkt in black and white

Aero Lloyd Luftbild GmbH, Luftaufnahme, Gendarmenmarkt, 1913/1914, Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin


Reconstruction of Französischer Dom and opening of the Huguenot Museum

From 1930, Französischer Dom is rebuilt again. The library and archives of the französischer Kirche are housed in the tower. For the 250th anniversary of the Edict of Potsdam in 1935, the Huguenot Museum is opened. A new hall will be built in the central rotunda of the tower and named after the theologian Jean Pierre Erman. This hall will be the place where the congregation will hold its services for 30 years after the destruction of Französische Kirche in World War II.



Aero Lloyd Luftbild GmbH, Luftaufnahme, Gendarmenmarkt, 1913/1914, Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin

Side view of destroyed cathedral in black and white



The destruction of the Gendarmenmarkt in the Second World War

After an Allied air raid on May 7, 1944, the nave of Französische Kirche burns, and on May 24, 1944, Französischer Dom is hit by incendiary bombs. Parts of the archives and the library of the Französische Kirche burn. However, because a thick concrete ceiling had been inserted during the reconstruction in 1930, the parts of the cathedral underneath were spared from the fire.



View of destroyed cathedral and concert hall in black and white



Ruins on the „Platz der Akademie“

In 1950, the Gendarmenmarkt was renamed "Platz der Akademie". For a long time, the GDR leadership was undecided about how to deal with the Prussian heritage: for decades, Französische Kirche, like the other buildings on the square, remained a war ruin. The construction of the Wall in 1961 also divided the French congregation. The small eastern congregation celebrated its services in the Erman Hall Französischer Dom until 1982.




Concert hall and Franz. Cathedral behind 3 standing cars




In 1976, the IX Party Congress of the SED decides to rebuild the buildings at the "Platz der Akademie". The Evangelical Church of the Federal Republic finances the construction of the two churches, the dome towers are rebuilt by the GDR. In April 1983, Französische Kirche is reopened with the Easter service.



Gendarmenmarkt with French Cathedral and Concert Hall in black and white



Since the reunification

In 1990, the square becomes Gendarmenmarkt again and Französische Kirche becomes a popular venue for concerts and events. Church services continue to be held here: The Französische Kirche zu Berlin (Huguenot Community) and its French-speaking part, the Communauté protestante francophone use the church together with the Evangelische Akademie zu Berlin and the Evangelical Church in Germany.




View of the Gendarmentmarkt construction site from observation deck

Gendarmenmarkt 2.0 - climate-friendly, barrier-free and fit for events.

Work has started on the climate-adapted renovation of the historic square at Gendarmenmarkt. Over the next two years, the 14,000 square meters will be made fit for the future.
The goals of the conversion are an underground infrastructure, sustainable rainwater management and barrier-free access.
During this time, not only the well-known monuments such as the Red City Hall and the TV Tower can be viewed from the observation deck of Französische Kirche. Now you can keep an eye on the status and progress of the work on the square from above.


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