The Spandau Fortress Print E-mail

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The Citadel at Spandau near Berlin is the best preserved fortification dating from the period of the Renaissance in Northern Europe. This former monument complex can be said to look back over 900 years of history, as there was a fortification at the site of the confluence of the rivers Havel and Spree as early as in the 11th Century. Citadel Spandau was first mentionned in 1197. Within the protection of its walls, the Counts of Brandenburg reigned, held court and organised banquets. The Julius Tower, which was built around 1230, is part of the old castle and one of the oldest buildings in Berlin. 30 metres in height, it towers above the other buildings which form part of the Citadel. From the top, it is possible to see as far as Potsdam and Berlin on a clear day.

The main gate of fortress
The main gate of fortress
 

The widespread use of heavy firearms in the late Middle Ages meant, that castles no longer served any purpose. Consequently, Elector Joachim II had built a modern fortress by Italian architects.

Spadau Fortress from eyebird
Spadau Fortress from eyebird
 

The plans were by Francesco Chiaramella de Gandino, and the first construction supervisor was Christoph Römer before the Italian himself took over the work. The building was completed in 1594 under Count Rochus zu Lynar after at least 30 years of building work.

The plan of Spandau Fortress by Linari
The plan of Spandau Fortress by Linari
 

The central structure of the citadel is a square pattern, with four pointed bastions known as "König", "Kronprinz", "Brandenburg" and "Königin" at the corners (clockwise from the entrance). The fortress is surrounded by a moat.

The map of Spandau - 1881
The map of Spandau - 1881
 

The facade of the gatehouse, which contained the commander's res­idence above the portal, dates from 1839; only the sandstone gable is older. An impression of the original appearance can be gained from the courtyard side.

Juliusturm Tower and Palace
Juliusturm Tower and Palace
 

The fortress at Spandau served as a place of refuge for him and the Berlin Court. The only time that the fortress was really besieged was during the Wars of Liberation. Prussian troops won back the occupied Citadel from Napoleonic soldiers in 1813. There was a large explosion, evidence of which can be seen from the ruins of the old magazine which are situated in front of the south curtain.

Artillery barracs
Artillery barracs
 

The barracks on the northern side and the magazine buildings in the east were added in the 19th century, and in the 1930s the buildings of the "army gas protection laboratories" were built, in which 300 people worked on the development of chemical weapons.

One of the oldest part of Spandau Fortress
One of the oldest part of Spandau Fortress
 

The Citadel has always been regardes as a particularly safe place. As a concequence, the „Empire's War Treasure", that is to say 120 million marks of minted gold was housed here in 1874. The Castle and the Citadel were also used as a prison for a long time. For example, the feared robber baron Dietrich von Quitzow was held here in 1402. Today, the Citadel is open to everyone. A large part of the historical building has been restored and is used as a cultural centre.

Kurfürst Joachim II
Kurfürst Joachim II
 

Today the citadel is also used as winter quarters for 10000 bats.

Rocco Guerrino di Linari - constructor of the fortress
Rocco Guerrino di Linari - constructor of the fortress
 

But the Citadel Spandau is not only an outstanding historical monument and cultural centre, but also a large history museum. Those who are interested in archaeology can view archaelogical finds from the 11th to the 16th centuries which are on display behind the Julius Tower. There is a special exhibition of Jewish history in the Queen‘s Bastion. About 50 mediaeval Jewish headstones are on display there. You can find out how they came to be in the Citadel in the course of a guided tour.

Exhibition in headquarters
Exhibition in headquarters
 

The history of Castle and Citadel is on display in the Commander's House. This exhibition also has areas which are specifically intended for children. The Armoury in the Museum of the Local History of Spandau gives an impression of what life must have been like in the past. Immediately opposite, in the Drill Hall, you can admire some valuable historic cannons.

Exhibition - Spandau 1945
Exhibition - Spandau 1945
 

The Citadel is a wonderful place for events. Some take place on a regular basis, for example Easter Market, Fortress Bivouac, Museum‘s Children‘s Festival, Long Night of the Museums, Bat Festival, Castle Festival, Autumn Festival, Halloween, Light Show and New Year Party. There are also various other events such as theatre and country festivals and Open-air-Konzerte. These events attract more than 100.000 visitors a year.

Exhibition - Spandau 1945
Exhibition - Spandau 1945
 

Exhibition - Spandau 1945
Exhibition - Spandau 1945
 

Exhibition - Spandau 1945
Exhibition - Spandau 1945

Street party in fortress
Street party in fortress

Source:
Citadel Spandau
and Arnt Cobbers, Architecture in Berlin, The most Important Buildings and Urban Settings, 2nd edition 2002, ISBN 3-89773-103-7, Jaron Verlag

 
 

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