Sunday, 23 September 2012

Places of Worship

Berlin even though or, maybe it’s because of, it being one of Europe’s largest capital cities, has a very diverse range of languages and cultures. One of the ways this is reflected is in its range of religious sites. From the gold and glass dome of the Jewish Synagogue, (which unfortunately still has around-the-clock police protection because of threats from the far right groups), to Germany’s oldest Mosque, to imposing cathedrals, to humble houses of worship with drafty windows and doors, they are all represented in this city.
Whether you're making a spiritual visit, or are in need of some quiet time away from the hustle bustle of the metropolis, or just want to appreciate their majestic architecture, churches are some of the most impressive sights a city has to offer. Steeped in history, cathedrals and churches tell their own story of the past; a story that is both historically significant and inspirational. Some of them have stood the test of time and remained untouched for hundreds of years but most wear the scars of war and are a vivid reminder of Berlin’s turbulent history.

 I’ve always been drawn to visit churches and actively seek them out when ever and where ever I travel. To spend a few moments in quiet reflection, trying to identify the stories that the stained glass, or wood carvings, or sculptures are trying to tell, read pamphlets on the churches history, and maybe light a candle for a loved one that has passed.

Here are some that I’ve visited recently. 

Jewish Synagogue - note the double barricade in front and police bottom right

Berlin Dome - originally Catholic, then Lutheran, then Calvinist, now Evangelical Protestant  

Friedrichswerdische Kirche - 1st Neo-Gothic church in Berlin
Nikolaikirche Potsdam 

Nikolaikirche Berlin's oldest church dates back to 1220 
Marienkirche. In 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. preached a sermon of non-violence and universal brotherhood here. At the time this church was deep inside the communist zone.
A striking statue of Martin Luther outside of the Marienkirche.
Zionskirche - Dietrich Bonhoeffer served here for a time. During the fall 1989 it was the site of the only underground printing press and center for distributing info to the outside just prior to the fall of the wall.

Unfortunately I am unable to visit this church as it is currently undergoing extensive restoration work and therefore completely shrouded. This picture was taken during a visit a few years back during the Christmas season. For me it is the most moving church/ruins I have ever been in. The battered shell of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church stands as a poignant reminder of the destruction of war. Destroyed by bombers in 1943, the church remains in its shattered condition as a monument to peace.

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