Spandau Citadel in Berlin is an imposing example of 16th C. Italian military engineering. The Italians were the first to adopt the high-walled acute-angled bastion in place of the round bastion which had previously been employed. The site was originally occupied by a moated castle belonging to the Askanier (the early ruling house of Brandenburg) and later by a frontier fortress erected by Albert the Bear (12th C.). The present citadel was begun by the Elector Joachim II in 1560 to protect his capital of Berlin.
Am Juliusturm, D-13599 Berlin, Germany
9am-5pm; Sun: 10am-5pm; Sat: 10am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Entrance fee in EUR:
Adult €2.50, Concession or reduced rate €1.50
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Transit: U-Bahn: Zitadelle (U7); Bus: 133.
The architects were Christoph Römer and a Venetian, F. Chiaramella di Gandino, and from 1578 Rochus, Count of Lynar, who completed the stronghold in 1594. Since then, apart from a few modern alterations, it has remained unchanged. Entirely surrounded by water, the citadel is square in plan, with a bastion at each corner (the King, Queen, Brandenburg and Crown Prince Bastions). At the time of its construction the citadel was impregnable. Thereafter it played a part in all the wars in which Brandenburg and Prussia were involved, and in the 17th and 18th C. was an important element in the Brandenburg defense system. During the Thirty Years War it was occupied by Swedish troops without a blow being struck, after negotiations between Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden and the Brandenburg Minister, Count Adam Schwarzenberg. During the Seven Years War, when Austrian forces invaded Brandenburg in 1757, the citadel provided a place of refuge for the Queen and the Court. In 1806 it was occupied by French forces, again without resistance, but was later recovered at the cost of bitter fighting.
A narrow bridge leads from the Citadel to the Gatehouse (16th. C., new facade 1839). In the pediment are carved and painted heraldic emblems of the provinces of Prussia at the beginning of the 18th C., surrounded by the ribbon of the English Order of the Garter. The rooms on the upper floor, now used from time to time for exhibitions, were once the officers' mess. Here you will find the "Prince's Room," the coffered ceiling of which came from the ruins of the old Museum of Applied Art.
The Spandau Local History Museum is housed in the Gatehouse. It displays finds from the Spandau area, from prehistoric times to the present day, and includes parts of mammoth skeletons as well as documents and material illustrating the town's history.
Straight ahead lies the courtyard. The army experimented here with poisonous gases, which were simply buried or thrown into the wells at the end of the war. On the right stands a memorial to the March Count Albert the Bear.
Diagonally opposite the officers' mess is the Palas, the castle's residential quarters, built around 1350. It was extended in the early 16th C. and again in 1821. Built into the lower parts of the south walls are Jewish tombstones (13th- 14th C.) with Hebrew inscriptions. These date from the Jewish pogroms c. 1510 and were used as building material during alterations to the Palas in 1521. Some of the rooms are now used to house exhibitions.
The Juliusturm, to the rear of the Palas, is the oldest surviving part of the Citadel. It was built at the beginning of the 14th C. as the castle keep, and as watch tower and place of refuge in time of war. In 1874, Bismarck used it for the safekeeping of Germany's war reserve, amounting to 120 million gold marks made up from the war indemnity paid by France in 1870-71. The name of the tower is probably a corruption of the word "Judenturm" (Jew's Tower), for in 1356 Margrave Ludwig granted the lucrative office of Keeper of the Tower to a Court servant named "the Jew Fritz." From the top of the tower (145 steps) there are magnificent views.
The casemates in the King Bastion have been restored and are open to the public. In the Powder Magazines will be found the Citadel's "Küchenmeysterey" tavern. On the walls are hung reminders of the Prussian period.
At the northwest corner of the citadel is the Crown Prince Bastion (Bastion Kronprinz) with the Cavalier, a massive semicircular platform for heavy artillery. To the north is the Brandenburg Bastion, containing the ruins of a military gas research laboratory dating from 1940. The small courtyard of the bastion is attractive, with its picturesque supporting arch (1814-43).
From the citadel there are pleasant walks alongside the moat (Bastionsgraben) with views of the River Havel. You will pass the Spandau Lock, which first came into use in 1910. This was where the first lock on the Havel was built in 1723.