Karl Friederich Schinkel: Berlin’s Architect

Karl Friederich Schinkel: Berlin’s Architect

Karl-Friederich-Schinkel-2Karl Friederich Schinkel (1781­1841) was architecture’s answer to Beethoven and Bach, and many of his finest buildings are in central Berlin. His dramatic interpretations of Classical design and innovative use of new materials transformed Berlin and laid the groundwork for the skyscrapers of the 20th Century. This three­hour tour in the company of an architectural historian visits key landmarks designed by Schinkel and locations that inspired him.

Karl-Friederich-Schinkel-3The tour begins at Schinkel’s Schauspielhaus (1821), a monumental theater complex on historic Gendarmenmarkt. You’ll learn how the tragic death of his young friend (the architect Friederich Gilly) inspired Schinkel’s career, and how his experience as a set designer informed his later building designs. On Berlin’s royal boulevard Unter den Linden, we’ll discuss how Prussia’s poet king Frederick the Great began the tradition of royal support for the arts which led to the construction of Schinkel’s first building, the Neue Wache (1816). This royal guard house is a jewel­like encapsulation of Schinkel’s belief in a return to “true” Classicism. Walking toward the site of the Baroque Prussian palace – now being reconstructed – we will cross Schinkel’s Schloßbrücke (1824), a bridge notable for its marble sculptures and early use of cast iron. At the heart of Berlin’s Museum Island, you experience the Lustgarten, the focal point of royal power under Prussia’s kings. Here, Schinkel proposed and designed Germany’s first art museum, the Altes Museum (1830), now fully restored. Inside, you’ll find the domed atrium which boldly references Rome’s ancient Parthenon.

Karl-Friederich-Schinkel-4Nearby is the red brick Friedrichswerder Church (1831) in a subdued Gothic style. Finally, we end at Schinkel’s masterpiece, the brick and terracotta Bauakademie (1836). This architecture school, torn down by the East Germans, has been partially reconstructed. After paying visits to the factories of England’s Industrial Revolution, Schinkel returned to Berlin a changed man. With the Bauakademie, Schinkel broke all the rules of 19th ­Century design and, many believe, invented modern architecture.

f4Fabiola Bierhoff is an art historian and PhD Candidate in the History and Cultural Studies program at the Free University of Berlin. She received her Bachelor in Art History at Radboud University Nijmegen in 2006 and holds a Masters in Museum Curatorship summa cum laude from the Free University of Amsterdam. Her Master Thesis on the alternative East German art scene was awarded the Annual Master Thesis Award 2010. Since 2009 she has been an art writer for the bimonthly magazine De Witte Raaf. Fabiola is currently conducting research for her dissertation, which is provisionally entitled “The Role of Autonomous Art Criticism for Performance Art in the Last Decade of the German Democratic Republic”. Her research is funded by a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and a research grant from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds.
DanHeadshotDan Borden grew up in Houston, Texas where he earned an architecture degree at Rice University. After getting his Masters degree from Columbia University, he worked as an architect in New York City for 15 years. His love affair with Berlin began when he visited as a student in summer 1987. After several more visits to the city, he settled in Berlin in 2006 where he works as a teacher, writer and filmmaker. He has contributed to books on the history of architecture and film. His monthly "Save Berlin" column in Exberliner magazine explores the city's architectural history and future.
JeaJean Ulrickn-Ulrick Désert is a conceptual and visual-artist. He received his degrees at Cooper Union and Columbia University (New York) and has lectured or been a critic at Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Humboldt University and l’école supérieur des beaux arts. Désert's artworks vary in forms such as billboards, actions, paintings, site-specific sculptures, video and objects and emerge from a tradition of conceptual-work engaged with social/cultural practices. He has exhibited widely at such venues as The Brooklyn Museum, Cité Internationale des Arts, The NGBK in galleries and public venues in Munich, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Ghent, Brussels. He is the recipient of awards, public commissions, private philanthropy, including Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (USA), Villa Waldberta/Muenchen - Kulturreferat , Kulturstiftung der Länder (Germany) and Cité des Arts (France). Désert established his Berlin studio in 2002.
f3Peter Bijl, born-Dutchman, originally a journalist, has been the initiator/driving force behind different cultural festivals, websites, platforms and exchange projects. After moving back to Berlin in 2008, the city that had gotten under his skin profoundly, he's been doing this internationally. In Utrecht he put up the 9-day Berlin festival Mitte Bitte!, in Berlin he initiated a similar 12-day program of Dutch/Flemish culture: Flachlandfest. Both festivals took place in 2008 and were initiated, developed, financed and produced in only a few months time. As a curator / artistic director, Peter’s highlight was the city-wide manifestation 'No Man’s Land'. A multidisciplinary weekend in November 2009 at 40+ locations in Utrecht, celebrating and commenting the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall: a festival as a work of art, using space, creativity and personal stories in different disciplines to tell Berlin’s incredible story. In ‘No Man’s Land’ Peter let Berlin’s heavy history interact with its light and creative present, via the red thread of personal stories. After realizing these festivals, Peter moved on to connecting cultures and stories in a different way: by joining musician Tjerk Ridder in his Caravan Hitchhiking Project. Hitchhiking with a caravan, without(!) a car: the duo traveled Europe, from Utrecht to Istanbul, showing that 'You need others to keep you going'. Their art project had a large international appeal, with national tv reports in 8 European countries. Out of their journey, Peter and Tjerk created and published a book/DVD, which has been published in Dutch, English and German. A new book, a playful photo project on football culture, is on the way.
f2Jeroen van Marle is a geographer and travel writer from the Netherlands, who has lived in Berlin for 5 years. He has lived in 8 countries across the world, writing about dozens of destinations. He's the editor of a Berlin city guide that's published several times per year. A resident of Kreuzberg since 2011, he is fascinated by the varied history of this young district.
f1Madelief ter Braak is architectural historian and freelance writer/journalist. In 2011 she graduated cum laude with a Research Master Art History & Archaeology from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands). Fascinated by urban public space, she focuses on the use and representation of this everchanging aspect of the city in the past, present and future. In her research and writing she’s guided by unconventional sources in art, photography, literature, poetry, films and music. Cross-cultural interests and curiosity have led to several publications in very diverse (online) magazines. For Blauwe Kamer  magazine on landscape development and urbanism, she writes the column ‘Standplaats Berlijn’. On her research she’s given lectures at the School of Architecture Groningen, the TU Delft and the Art historian Institute from the University of Groningen. Her masterthesis Flanieren in Berlin is written as a journey across east and west, in times of dictatorship and democracy.


Insight Cities arranges this tour only for private groups with advance notice, at present. Thanks for emailing us at [email protected].

Private Walk (1-6 People) $390
Private Walk (7-10 People) $500


Groups of over 10 should contact us at [email protected] in order to get a special rate for their party.

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