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Podewils Palace

Podewils Palace





Artist : Jean de Bodt

Date : between 1701 and 1704

Berlin
Alexanderplatz Nikolaiviertel
Alexanderplatz Nikolaiviertel
Item 2 on 19
Quarter(s)
Outdoor architecture (Building)

Area related
Berlin (Germany)

Description   

The site where the Podewils Palace now stands has seen many great changes throughout its history. Klosterstraße is one of the oldest streets in Berlin. We know about at least two buildings that stood here before the current baroque palace was built.

A clay half-timbered house that was built in 1300 burnt down. Around 1550 a massive two-storey dwelling was erected on parts of the former cellar rooms. Towards the end of the 17th Century the property extended to the city walls, the remains of which can still be seen behind the Podewils Palace (between Littenstraße and Waisenstraße).

Between 1701 and 1704, after the building had been demolished, the privy counsellor Caspar Rademacher had the Baroque architect Jean de Bodt build a palace there. Substantial parts of the former building were incorporated into the new one, including the Middle Age vault upon which the Podewils Palace now stands. The history of the palace was marked by continually changing occupants : after Rademacher died, the "True secret minister for war, state, and the cabinet" Count Heinrich von Podewils (1695-1760) bought the palace in 1732 for 12000 Thalers. The Prussian Minister of State was in charge of foreign affairs and a minister in Friedrich II's cabinet. The eponymous Podewil bequeathed the palace in 1749 to his two daughters. The Baroque palace remained in the family's possession for the following 12 years, until it was sold in 1763 and all the valuable objects were publicly auctioned off. For 50 years the palace belonged to the Brendel family (the father was a jeweller, and the son a businessman), until it was bought by the businessman Löwenherz in 1856 for 80000 Thalers.

The palace's time as a private abode then came to an end : in the year 1874 Berlin's Magistrate purchased the property for 215000 Thalers, and on 17th January 1876 the Brandenburg Mark Provincial Museum opened its doors to visitors. The city invested in its reconstruction, the side wing was extended, and much was modernised. However, the museum had to move out in 1880, because the Magistrate planned to centralise numerous departments in the palace (gasworks, water, and sewage works, as well as the central pay office for the civic works). From 1919 the palace is listed at Klosterstraße 68 in the Berlin address book. It documents the building as being used for various public institutions, such as the civic waterworks, the sanitation department, and the Magistrate's military office. The Mitte district office moved into the building in 1923, and from 1939 the house served as the seat of the district mayor. In the last years of the Second World War the building was destroyed by bombing, the fire burnt out, and all the floors caved in.

Young people began rebuilding the palace in 1951 when Berlin was hosting the III World Youth & Student Games. The Magistrate thereupon decided that it would be rebuilt as a “House of Youth”, and planned to have the region's Committee of Free German Youth (FDJ Land Brandenburg) housed there. A spacious hall was constructed on the ground floor, and a two-storey hall was also added. It was decided to forego the reconstruction of the extensively damaged side wing. On the occasion of the FDJ's 8th birthday on 7th May 1954, the Lord Mayor of East-Berlin, Friedrich Ebert, handed over the "Central Clubhouse for Youth" to the "Free German Youth of Germany's Capital", with the wish that it be used for peace.

In 1959 the Central Clubhouse joined the Culture- and Sport club in Stalinallee to become the “Central Club for Youth and Athletes in Berlin” and was henceforth called the “House of Young Talents” (HdjT). After an event on 20th February 1966, a fire destroyed the hall and the wooden roof structure above it. Its reopening on 2nd October 1970 marked the beginning of two decades of successful cultural work. The HdjT received particular recognition as the venue where the “Festival of the political song” was organised and took place, as well as for being an important home of GDR-Jazz. Berlin's provincial government decided to close it two years after German reunification.

In October 1991 the recently founded Berlin Culture Events ltd. (BKV) moved into the building. The association was founded as an establishment for the organisation and coordination of cultural exchange projects between Berlin and partners from abroad, and was in charge of the venues "Theater am Halleschen Ufer", "Podewil", and "Schaubude Berlin". The theatre at Halleschen Ufer (now HAU 2) became sponsored by the association in October 2003 upon the opening of the HAU stages. Over the 12 years of its existence, the Podewil centre for contemporary art developed into an internationally recognised address for dance, new music, theatre/performance, and media art.

In 2004 the artistic venue was once more advertised for bids by the then chairman of the BKV supervisory board, Thomas Flierl. Since April 2005 Tesla Berlin inc. has been running the media arts laboratory of the same name. In the same year the Museum Pedagogical Service for Berlin (MD Berlin) moved into the Podewils Palace on the initiative of Berlin's Culture Senate. This was the first step in preparation for a planned fusion with the BKV. The merger between BKV and MD Berlin created the new association Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH, which started work here in the Podewils Palace on 1.9.2006.

More pictures   
Podewils Palace
Jean de Bodt