The towering ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church are city west’s most famous landmark and as you stand right at the entrance of the church and look up, you immediately get a sense of the enormous scale of the building and the majestic church that once stood here. Damaged heavily during a bombing raid in 1943, the city decided to retain the few remains of the church as a legacy of the past and integrate it into the design of a new church to be put in its place. German architect Egon Eiermann designed the unique honeycomb like structure that stands today. It was completed in 1961 and is largely unexplored by most tourists. However a step inside reveals a magical serene blue oasis in the heart of the busy shopping district with its thousands of blue stained glass panels.
One of the best ways to experience the church is to attend one of the many concerts held throughout the year – especially in advent season. Each week there are a variety of concerts with local, German and foreign performers and most of them offer free entry with request for a donation to be put towards organ restoration or other selected charities. We’ve chosen some highlights for the rest of this month but you can check the calender online for December’s schedule also – Bach’s famous Christmas Oratoria will be performed on Dec 10th!
On Saturday 26th November at 6pm, the grand organ in the church will come to life with an organ concert featuring Regensburg’s Norbert Düchtel. Works from Rheinberger, Renner and Rega will feature and admission is free, with donations going towards restoration of the grand 5000 pipe organ. Why not visit the Christmas Market in the church square and then enjoy the concert afterwards?
If wind instruments are more your preference then Sunday’s concert is definitely for you. At 3pm the Wind Ensemble of City West will perform a ‘Bläserserenade’ or wind serenade. Headed by Kai Heiden, this concert is also free with collection for charity and restoration projects.
This month’s highlight however must surely be the free concert on Tuesday 29th November at 7.30 pm of Norway’s oldest boys choir – the Knabenchor of the Nidaroskathedrale in Trondheim. This 900 year old choir will sing traditional and contemporary works with an Advent theme from various European composers.
Finally for a non musical experience of the church’s magic, a 30 minute tour on Monday 28th November at 4pm will take your through the history and architecture of both churches, including access to a section where members of the public are not normally granted access – between the walls. The exterior of the newer part of the church is actually made up of two walls of over 21,000 stained glass panels that act as a sound block from the outside. The tour includes a guided walk between the glass walls to experience the stained glass up close and learn about the state of the art LED technology used to showcase the church’s stunning architectural design.
There is so much to discover at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church – sounds, sights and along with the Christmas Market surrounding the church, possibly the best Christmas atmosphere in Berlin.