Zitadelle Spandau

Everyone who has ever travelled by highspeed train to Berlin knows Spandau: It is the last stop before you reach Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Not too many tourists leave the train there, but there would be a good reason: the city has one of the oldest fortresses of the high renaissance period, the Zitadelle Spandau. It is located in the northeast of the historic city center within river Havel.

Already in the 11th century the Slavs had built a fortification in this place which was later multiple times extended and superstructed – an archaeological museum inside the Zitadelle gives insight into this. The first citadel was created in 1560 to protect the city of Berlin. It was besieged different times but never taken by force; it was handed over to Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806 and to the Soviet Army in 1945. That is also the reason why it is so well preserved today. The Zitadelle Spandau has seen various uses over time: for administration, as a school, as a prison. It served as a backdrop in different movies (including three Edgar Wallace films) and today it is often used as a great open-air concert location.

After paying a small entrance fee you can discover the gate house and the palas, climb up onto the Juliusturm which was once used as a treasury; the door still looks like a vault. You can discover the four bastions and the harbor and have a look at the different barrack buildings: one contains a museum for modern art and the Proviantmagazin hosts the special exhibition ‘Enthüllt – Berlin und seine Denkmäler‘: memorials once located at Berlin but removed for different reasons; a beautiful exhibition very well presented.

Part of the exhibition is for example the head of Lenin belonging to the large memorial once standing on the Leninplatz (today Platz der Vereinten Nationen) of East Berlin. It was removed in 1991 and the pieces have been buried in a sand pit at Berlin-Müggelheim. This was later shown in the movie ‘Good Bye, Lenin!‘ by Wolfgang Becker. The head was excavated in 2015 and brought to Spandau. The Ernst-Thälmann-Denkmal in contrast was not torn down, it is still standing. But the texts which were once placed next to it have been removed and are on display at the citadel. Close to them you can also find the former eternal flame from the Neue Wache.

Zitadelle Spandau

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