Alexanderplatz (Alexander square) was once called Ochsenmarkt (ox market), but was named Alexanderplatz after a visit by the Russian Tsar Alexander in the beginning of the 19th century. Most of the buildings on the square were destroyed in WW2, and being in the center of East Berlin, the place was used as a showcase of Communist architecture. That means plain bulky buildings, and an enormous Television tower.
The city of Berlin commissioned an architectural competition to redesign the square in 1993. The winners were the architects Hans Kollhoff and Helga Timmermann (Kohlhoff was also one of the architects of Potsdamer Platz). The plans included several high rise buildings, shopping centers, cinemas and more. When we were there last year, it was a huge construction site. I cannot wait to see what came out of that…
Here you can find some more information about the redesign plan of the square from the Senate department for Urban Development website
Must-sees in Alexanderplatz
The Neptun Fountain: inaugurated in 1891, designed by Reinhold Begas. The Greek sea god Poseidon (Neptune) is in the center. The four women around him represent the four main rivers of Germany: Elbe, Rhine, Vistula, and Oder.
Monuments: In 1969 two more monuments were added to the square, the Weltzeituhr (World Time Clock) by Erich John and the Fountain of International Friendship.
And let’s not forget the distinguished gentlemen Marx and Engels (it seems that anyone who was there took a photograph of someone sitting in Marx’s lap. According to Marx’s biography, I’m guessing he’s rolling around in his grave every time that happens).
Marienkirche (st. Mary’s Church): The second oldest church in Berlin. Its construction began around 1270, and completed in the early 14th century. It was built as an early Gothic hall church, and became protestant after the reformation, in 1539. Its dome was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, the architect of the Brandenburg Gate, and added in 1790. It was damaged in WW2, and restored in 1950.
Among the treasures inside the church are the 22 X 2 meter late-gothic fresco “Totentanz” (Dance of Death) from 1485, and the alabaster pulpit by Andreas Schlüter completed in 1703.