Das Zeughaus - Blick auf den Haupteingang Unter den Linden 2

The Zeughaus

The foundation stone of the Zeughaus was laid in 1695 under the aegis of Elector Friedrich III. From 1730 the building served as an arsenal. After the German Empire was founded in 1871, the house was rebuilt as the Pantheon of the Brandenburg-Prussian Army. Used by the National Socialists as the Army Museum, the edifice was severely damaged by bombs in the last months of World War II. It reopened in 1952 as the Museum für Deutsche Geschichte of the German Democratic Republic. In 1990, after the Peaceful Revolution, the Deutsches Historisches Museum moved into the eminent Baroque structure, which has survived as the oldest building on the boulevard Unter den Linden.

Building history

The Berlin Zeughaus is one of the most important Baroque buildings in northern Germany. Johann Arnold Nering (1659–1695) created the original design, which was further developed by the architects Martin Grünberg (1655–1706), Andreas Schlüter (1659–1714) and Jean de Bodt (1670–1745).

The building was already greatly admired in the 18th century. In his description of Berlin from 1786 Friedrich Nicolai (1733–1811), the Berlin writer of the Enlightenment, claimed that the Zeughaus was among the "most beautiful buildings in Europe".

Elector Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg (1620–1688), the Great Elector, planned to build an armoury in Berlin, the capital city. In addition to its functional uses it was to stand out as a building of representative quality.

His son, Elector Friedrich III (1657–1713), was able to realise his father’s idea: on 28 May 1695 he laid the foundation stone for the arsenal. The building was designed to demonstrate the aspiring electorate’s claim to sovereignty. In 1701 Friedrich succeeded in having himself crowned "King in Prussia". As King Friedrich I in Prussia, he achieved a major step forward in the political advancement of his state.