Did you know that one of the most famous squares in Berlin was named after the capital of France?
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the Pariser Platz, one of the most popular spots in Germany’s capital!
1. It’s located next to one of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks
The Pariser Platz is one of the most iconic landmarks in the capital of Germany, Berlin. It’s located right in the historic center of the city and right next to the city’s most iconic landmark, one of the best-recognized triumphal arches in the world, the Brandenburg Gate.
Other landmarks in the area are the Reichstag Building just to the north, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe to the south. There are also a few museums located in the square including the Berlin Branch of Madame Tussauds, the famous wax sculpture museum, and the Academy of Arts.
A few hundred meters to the south we can also find the Potsdamer Platz, another famous square in Berlin, and Checkpoint Charlie, the historic checkpoint which was used to cross from west to east Berlin and vice versa.
2. The square is located at the end of Berlin’s most famous avenue
Just as the Place de la Concorde in Paris is located at the end of the most famous avenue in the city, the Champs-Élysées, the Pariser Platz is located at the end of the most famous street in Berlin, an avenue called “Unter den Linden.”
The square marks the western end of the street which runs all across the historical center of the city. The Brandenburg Gate was the main gate of this part of the city as well.
On the other side of the Brandenburg Gate, there’s the Tiergarten, the most popular park in Berlin. It covers an area of 210 hectares (520 acres), making it one of the biggest city parks in all of Germany as well.
3. It was named after a battle in the early 19th century
One of the most interesting facts about the Pariser Platzis that it was named after the capital of France. The name of the square literally translates to “Paris Square.”
The square originally had a much simpler name as it was referred to as either “Quarré” or “Viereck” (Square). It got its current name after the Battle of Paris in 1814 in which the Prussian Troops were victorious against Emperor Napoleon who was subsequently abdicated and exiled.
This means that the square was named Pariser Platz because of the triumph against Napoleon Bonaparte.
4. The square was part of victory parades, including Napoleon’s
Unter den Linden is much more than simply a road through the heart of Berlin. It’s a ceremonial axis on which the various regimes that were victorious over the centuries marched to commemorate their victories. This tradition goes back all the way to the House of Hohenzollern in the 11th century to East Germany after World War II.
This also means they marched on the Pariser Platz, just like the triumphal parades of Ancient Roman Emperors passed through the Forum Romanum, the old marketplace of Rome.
One of the most intriguing facts about the Pariser Platz is that Napoleon also marched here after his victory over Prussia in 1810. Little did he know back then that the square he crossed would be named after his own demise just 4 years later!
Quite ironic, don’t you think?
5. It was the most imposing square in Berlin before World War II
The square’s rich history and its prominent location near the most iconic monument in Germany turned it into one of the most amazing squares in all of Berlin.
Before World War II it was flanked by important buildings such as the French and American Embassies, the most exclusive hotel in the city called the “Adlon Hotel,” multiple museums, and richly decorated apartment blocks.
6. Hitler’s architect used to have a residence on the square
Some of the most prominent artists and military commanders used to live on the square, including writer Achim von Arnim, painter Max Liebermann, and Prussian Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich von Wrangel.
Perhaps the most notorious resident of all was the personal architect of Adolph Hitler and later Nazi minister for armaments, Albert Speer.
Speer was in charge of Hitler’s ultimate remodeling of the city referred to as “Welthauptstadt Germania,” but which was never completed.
7. Only 1 monument was still standing after the war
World War II devastated most of Berlin, and the Pariser Platz was no exception. Just about every building in the square was decimated and the grandeur of what used to be the most exclusive area in the city was gone.
Perhaps one of the most amazing facts about the Pariser Platz is that there was one building that was still standing, the Brandenburg Gate, which had suffered only limited damage.
After the war, both the East and West Berlin governments worked on restoring this magnificent monument.
8. The square was part of a death zone until the early 1990s
Apart from restoring the Brandenburg Gate, nothing was done to restore the other buildings after the war. After the Berlin Wall was constructed, large parts of the square couldn’t even be accessed by residents of East Berlin.
Most parts of the square became part of the so-called “death zone,” the restricted area which divided East and West Berlin. This situation in which the Brandenburg Gate could only be seen from a distance would last for multiple decades.
9. There were several restrictions for newly constructed buildings
The city was finally reunited in the early 1990s and plans were being made to return the Pariser Platz to its old glory. This didn’t mean that everybody could just start building as several restrictions were put in place to ensure the square would look similar to what it did before the war.
Some of these restrictions were:
- The buildings had to be exactly 22 meters (72 feet) in height.
- The roof had to be properly finished to create a consistent skyline.
- The buildings had to be properly finished with stone cladding.
10. The square has regained its former glory and looks amazing today
The U.S. and French Embassies have returned to the square and the luxurious Adlon Hotel has been rebuilt, as well as several museums and apartments.
This means that the Pariser Platz looks fairly similar to how it looked before World War II, making it one of the most amazing squares in Berlin today!