Berlin's Top 10 : Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche

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One of the most haunting symbols of Berlin, the ruins of the memorial church in the heart of the city’s West End, have been irreverently nicknamed “the hollow tooth”. The Neo-Romanesque church was given the name of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in 1895, to honour Wilhelm I. Following damage by severe bombing raids in 1943, the ruins of the tower were left standing as a memorial. Next to it, Egon Eiermann erected a new church in 1957–63. Religious services are now conducted here.

  • Breitscheidplatz


  • 030 218 50 23

  • Church 9am–7pm, memorial hall 10am–4pm Mon–Sat

  • Services 10am and 6pm Sun

  • Admission free

A Church with Two Lives

The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche has the Berliners to thank for its preservation: in 1947, the Senate had planned to demolish the Tower Ruins for safety reasons. In a referendum only about ten years later, however, one in two Berliners voted for its preservation. And so the idea came about to build a new church next to the ruin and to preserve the vestibule of the old church as a striking memorial hall to the horrors of war.

There are fantastic views of the church from the Mövenpick Café in the Europa-Center opposite.

If possible, visit the interior of the new church on a sunny day around lunchtime, when the blue glass window is at its most impressive.

Top 10 Sights
  1. Tower Ruins

    Only the tower of the memorial church survived the destruction of World War II that razed much of Berlin to the ground. Today only 63 m (206 ft) high, it once rose to 113 m (370 ft). The hole in the tower’s roof has a ragged edge, hence the nickname “hollow tooth”. The tower underwent restoration during 2009.

    The “hollow tooth” – the Tower Ruins
  2. Kaiser’s Mosaic

    One of the mosaics that have been preserved depicts Emperor Heinrich I on his throne, with imperial orb and sceptre. Originally decorated throughout with scenes from German imperial history, the church interior was meant to place the Hohenzollerns within this tradition.

  3. Mosaic of the Hohenzollerns

    The surprisingly coloured mosaic of the Hohenzollerns adorns the vestibule of the church ruins. It depicts Emperor Wilhelm I together with Queen Luise of Prussia and her entourage.

  4. Coventry Crucifix

    This small crucifix was forged from old nails that were found in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. It commemorates the bombing of Coventry, England, by the German Luftwaffe in 1940.

  5. New Bell Tower

    The new hexagonal bell tower rises 53 m (174 ft) high next to the tower ruins, on the site of the old church’s main nave.

  6. Main Altar

    The golden figure of Christ created by Karl Hemmeter is suspended above the modern main altar in the new church. In the evening light, the windows behind the altar glow an overwhelming dark blue.

  7. Tower Clock

    The tower bears a clock based on a Classical design, with Roman numerals. At night, it is lit in blue by modern light-emitting diodes to match the lighting inside the new church.

  8. The Orthodox Cross

    A gift from the Russian Orthodox bishops of Volokolomsk and Yuruyev, this cross was given in memory of the victims of Nazism.

  9. Original Mosaics

    Mosaics showing Prussian dukes are preserved on the walls and ceilings all along the stairways.

  10. Figure of Christ

    Miraculously, the vast, plain sculpture of Christ, which is suspended from the ceiling, survived the bombing of the church.

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