Nicknamed “the hollow tooth” by Berliners, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is one of Berlin’s most interesting landmarks and located on the Kurfürstendamm in the center of Breitscheidplatz. It includes the damaged spire of a late-19th-century church, as well as a modern church and belfry dating to the 1960s.
The original church was built by Kaiser Wilhelm II, countering the socialist and labor movements taking place in Germany during the late-19th century with a Protestant church-building programme that sought a return to traditional religious values. The design competition was won by architect Franz Schwechten whose Neo-Romanesque design was modeled on the Bonn Minster and featured an immense mosaic wall. The 2,000-seat church was dedicated in 1895 and named in honor of Wilhelm II’s grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm I.
In 1943, the church was extensively damaged in a World War II air raid, with only the spire, entrance hall, altar and baptistry remaining. Public outcry demanded that the ruined tower be preserved and the architect tasked with rebuilding the church, Egon Eiermann, revised his design to feature four buildings group around the remains of the old church. Concrete, steel and glass feature in the new design, with the walls of the church made from honeycombed concrete and more than 20,000 stained glass inlays.
The entrance hall at the base of the original spire now contains a number of significant religious artworks, including a mosaic of the Archangel Michael fighting the dragon and bas-reliefs depicting biblical stories and scenes from Kaiser Wilhelm I’s life.