The extended council chamber

It is impossible to imagine the city of Berlin and its history without the Nikolaikirche: for centuries, church and politics were closely intertwined here. After two years of renovation, the church has now reopened with a new permanent exhibition.

The origins of the church go back to the 13th century. Century back. Around 1230, construction began on the late Romanesque fieldstone basilica, which was rebuilt into an early Gothic hall church just half a century after completion. "The fact is, the Nikolaikirche is the oldest church in Berlin," says curator Albrecht Henkys. The aim of the exhibition "From the City Ground to the Double Spire" is therefore to present the Nikolai Church in its most important functions in the course of church history.Above all, as a place of representation, the church has played an important role in history. As "extended council hall" describes Henkys the sacred building therefore also. The importance for the town can be measured by the historical events that took place in the church: in 1809, for example, the first town council was sworn in here. In 1991, the first freely elected Berlin House of Representatives met in St. Nicholas Church. Nazis planned "historical Disneyland And even in GDR times, people were aware of the importance of the church building and rebuilt the church, which had been destroyed in World War II, as a museum for the 750th anniversary of the city in 1987. Just as the entire Nikolai Quarter was designed during this period as a patchwork of the historical and the authentic. The National Socialists had already planned to redesign the neighborhood as a "historical Disneyland," Henkys recounts. Only until 1939 services were celebrated in the church.For a long time before that, the citizens of Berlin used the church, in addition to the church service, primarily as a place of burial. For their family dynasties they set up in the building – as was not unusual for city parish churches at that time – partly monumental hereditary burial places. "Pantheon of the sexes" is what Henkys calls this function of the church. In 1819 the last burial took place inside the church.The exhibition, newly designed at a cost of almost one million euros, traces this and other details of church history in seven themed islands: Printed on leather, Paul Gerhardt's poems and songs can be read. Film clips show the extent of the destruction during the Second World War. Multimedia stations with touch screens are set up throughout the hall church. And in the gallery a lounge with listening stations and reading places was set up.

Outstanding expona The thematic islands are complemented by outstanding exhibits: the planning model of the Magistrate of East Berlin for the redevelopment of the Nikolai Quarter from the 1980s is on display, as well as numerous liturgical utensils. A special highlight is the so-called Beyers' crypt. In it, a unique coin treasure is now shown, which the citizens of Berlin had collected between 1514 and 1734 for the tower knob.But the exhibition also wants to look ahead. Students of European Ethnology at the Humboldt University interviewed numerous Berliners of different nationalities and religions about their individual experiences of faith and views of the world. The results can be viewed and experienced in individual drawers – as audio documents, in texts and pictures. A mirror is built into a drawer, so that the exhibition visitor finally finds himself in the tradition and history of the church.

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