Berlin Celebrates Turning 775 Years Young
Enlarge image View of the Nikolaikirche, Berlin's oldest church, as well as the iconic Rotes Rathaus (Red Town Hall) and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), Berlin's tallest building (© picture alliance / ZB) When people think about the German capital, they usually associate it with the Berlin Wall rather than a medieval city wall. But Berlin’s 775th anniversary extends back to the Middle Ages, when its sister city of Cölln was first mentioned in a document dated October 28, 1237.
Several spectacular archaeological finds originating from those times were discovered in the city’s historical center, for instance during the construction of the U-Bahn underground railway in front of the Rotes Rathaus. Such discoveries are on show at the capital’s anniversary project “Traces of the Middle Ages.” Exhibitions and guided tours, which started in August 2012, link many important examples of medieval evidence, such as the excavation site at Petriplatz and the Jewish Quarter, but also well-known buildings such as the Marienkirche church.
Enlarge image People visit the exhibition "City of Diversity" at the Schlossplatz Berlin Mitte. The huge, walkable city map presents the Berlin of today and traces 800 years of immigration history. (© picture alliance / dpa) In addition to this, Berlin is taking a look at its city history as a history of migration: the original 2,000 settlers of 1237 evolved over the centuries into today’s 3.5 million population in the “city of diversity.” Huguenots, Bohemians, Polish migrant workers, eastern European Jews, guest workers from southern Europe, war refugees. And since the fall of the Berlin Wall the city has been continuously attracting a young global elite. On Schlossplatz there’s a huge walk-around map of the city on a scale of 1:775 providing impressive insights into Berlin’s migration history.
Up until now, Berlin has only celebrated three anniversaries: the 750th anniversary of 1987 was held in the two separate parts of the divided city; and the 700th anniversary of 1937 was staged under the Nazi regime.
All of the events of the 775th anniversary reach a climax at the Jubilee Festival on October 28, 2012. Following a church service in the Marienkirche with Berlin’s Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit, the invited guests will continue to the central celebration event in the Nikolai Church. As darkness falls, the amazing French fire artists of the Compagnie Carabosse will literally immerse the historical city centre in flames: fire-spewing sculptures, burning garlands and innumerable flickering clay vessels will illuminate the area between Schlossplatz and the Nikolai Quarter. And there is more: the street theatre artists of Titanick will be presenting a unique enchanted world of visions reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch or Dante. During the whole of the festival weekend there will be a Medieval Market staged by the traders of the Nikolai Quarter.