Guardhouse / Commander’s House

The gatehouse from the early period of fortress construction was remodeled in the 17th century and decorated with the coat of arms of the rulers of Brandenburg-Prussia. The restoration of the coat of arms, completed in the spring of 2021, shows what it looked like in 18th century when the royal crown replaced the electoral one.

The rooms above the gate served as the commander’s quarters since the Napoleonic Wars. Even before that, the embrasures had been converted into windows and partition walls had been built in. In the spring of 1945, the Volkssturm entrenched themselves in the rooms that had been used as officers’ apartments until then and blocked the gate hall with field stones and rubble up to the ceiling.

Today, elements of the Renaissance style are clearly visible in the gateway hall, including the hall with the three arched openings, which were bricked up and plastered over in 1838/39 and not reopened until 1967. The facade to the entrance bridge still shows the condition in 1839 with the accurately set Rathenow bricks.

 

Today, the first floor houses the ticket office with information facilities. On the upper floor you will find the museum store and the exhibition “Castle and Citadel”, which leads directly to the Julius Tower.

Palas

The Palas, the representative building for the electors in the 15th century, was preserved during the construction of the Citadel. The current appearance is a reconstruction of the late Gothic architecture from the 1970s/80s. This building had several phases of reconstruction over the centuries, which greatly changed its appearance: a modernization in the 16th century turned it into a Renaissance building, which also served as a residence for the widows of the Brandenburg electors. At the end of the 17th century, the interiors received Baroque furnishings, and around 1820 the entire building was rebuilt in the Classicist style. Most of the destruction of the old structural inventory occurred during the conversion of the palace into an officers’ club and administration building for the Wehrmacht from 1935 onwards, during which larger windows were broken out and the floor plan was changed. During the construction and restoration work starting in 1955, the Jewish gravestones built into the foundation came to light.

 

The upper floor of the Palas houses the archives of the Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Spandau. Access is through the gatehouse/commandant’s house.

Today, concerts are held in the Gothic Hall, which was reconstructed in 1982. It can also be rented as a location.

Julius Tower

BERLIN’S OLDEST BUILDING

Those who climb the 153 steps to the top level of the Julius Tower are rewarded with an impressive view. The fortifications and the course of the Havel River can be seen excellently from here.

The defense and watchtower was built at the beginning of the 13th century as part of the margravial castle. When the citadel was built in the 16th century, the Julius Tower and the Palas were preserved as symbols of power of the old castle. Since then, the tower has undergone several reconstructions: The neo-Gothic battlement, for example, dates from 1836 and is based on a design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel.

The safe door through which visitors enter the tower is a reminder of the so-called Imperial War Treasure (Reichskriegsschatz). This was stored behind the 3.60 meter thick walls after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71. This gave rise to the idiom of referring to surpluses in the federal budget as the “Julius Tower”. Why the tower is called Julius in the first place has not been conclusively clarified to this day.

 

Tower ascents are possible during the opening hours of the citadel with admittance 365 days in a year. Except during black ice and storms!

Armory

The building, in the style of Prussian historicism, was erected between 1856 to 1858 next and the remains of the Old Armory, which are still visible today. The architect was Carl Ferdinand Busse, a student of Schinkel and head of the Berlin Bauakademie. He divided the strictly symmetrical brick shell into a low first floor for the heavy artillery and an unusually high upper floor with cross vaults for over 20,000 rifles.

On the outside, the decoratively arranged reddish-brown and sandstone-colored bricks on the window arches and facade bands are striking. Just below the flat roof, Busse had round-arched friezes added, resting on stepped brackets to cite Italian Renaissance architecture.

Used for military purposes until 1945 – first as an armory, then from 1936 as a laboratory for nerve gas chemical weapons – the Spandau Construction School took over the building in 1958. As a warehouse and canteen, the armory underwent numerous alterations. From 1988 to 1992 it was restored and largely reconstructed to its 19th century condition.

Since 1992, it has been home to the Spandau City History Museum (Stadtgeschichtliches Museum Spandau) on both floors.

Parade Hall

The parade hall, built in the 19th century, was erected for the purpose of “protecting the soldiers’ fancy Prussian uniforms from rain”. The high level of sickness among the soldiers was also to be avoided according to the will of King Frederick William III. Thus, starting in the 1820s in particular, there was a flurry of construction activity in Berlin and Spandau so that the soldiers could perform their daily training in close order drill without getting wet. In contrast to the representative parade halls built in Berlin at the same time – designed by the most important military architect of the time, Johann G. C. Hampel – the low-rise building in the citadel was kept very simple. As a purely functional building, it was used until the Weimar Republic for, among other things, repeating the necessary hand movements on the rifle until it became automatic. The Wehrmacht set up a vehicle workshop for military vehicles here.

Today, historical cannons and other testimonies of military history are displayed here.

Provisions Depot

The origin of the storage building for siege times and later for the supply of stationed soldiers goes back to the first construction phase of the fortress. In terms of style, elements of the 16th century can be seen on the outside. Inside, there have been very significant changes over the centuries due to conversion and destruction. Before it burned down completely in 1813, the first floor housed fortress prisoners. When it was rebuilt in 1817, there was already a new foundation. The removal of the intermediate floors of the three-story building dates back to its use by the Wehrmacht, which had test rooms for the production of chemical weapons set up here. After 1945, the building remained gutted and was used as storage space for large-scale equipment.

After extensive restoration work with the help of EU and Lotto funding, it is now home to the museum “Unveiled. Berlin and its monuments” (“Enthüllt. Berlin und seine Denkmäler”) which is housed here today.

Officiant House

The building for military officers, designed in simple classicism, stands on the foundation walls of a predecessor that was rebuilt several times: the first so-called “Officiantenhaus” on this site dated back to the 17th century and was severely damaged in the explosion on the Bastion Kronprinz in 1691. After its repair it was intensively used and extended into a horse stable, a bakery and a latrine. But in 1884 this apparently badly dilapidated building was finally demolished to make way for the more representative building.

The Wehrmacht used the plaster brick building, completed in 1886, as a laboratory building for the development of chemical weapons including mustard gas. In the 1960s, the building, which had been restored from war damage, served as a residence and, since 1992, as an office building for the Spandau Cultural Office.

It is currently empty and awaiting restoration.

Italian Courtyards

The vaulted rooms under the Brandenburg Bastion belong to the lowest floor of a cannon tower. This 16th-century “cavalier” originally jutted out over the ramparts and housed guns intended to secure the Havel side. The flying buttresses served as static support and today are reminiscent of Venetian architectural style. Since the Kavalier had been severely damaged by Prussian shelling in 1813, the subsequent restoration work also changed the view of the barrel vaults greatly to the taste of the 19th century: the wall articulations with their windows and doors show the popular round arch style of the 1820s. The interior rooms served as prison cells for a time. Between 1884 and 1894, physical experiments were carried out to accurately measure gravitational forces. The limestone base installed for this purpose can still be seen today. These rooms also belonged to the gas laboratories of the Wehrmacht during the National Socialist era. Since the completion of the restoration work in 2003, both the interior rooms and some of the outdoor areas can be rented as a location for events.

Old Barracks

The late classicist building from the 19th century immediately catches the eye with its long facade of yellow bricks. It stands on the foundation walls of a 17th-century half-woodenflour magazine that burned down in 1859, was expanded in the 18th century and converted into barracks in 1811. An archaeological window on the first floor shows remains of an iron cast column from the previous building.

Although not built until 1860-1861, the former “Kaserne Königshaus” now bears the name “Alte Kaserne” (Old Barracks) because the Wehrmacht received new barracks buildings starting in 1935. The Old Barracks were used for testing and development of gas protection equipment as well as ordnance ammunition. After 1948, the building school first used the rooms as a ballroom, among other things, and later, until the interior renovation in 2014, it was mainly workshops, but also studios of various artists.

Today it houses the ZAK – Center for Contemporary Art with an exhibition area of about 2500 m².

The top floor can be rented for conferences.

Harbour

Already in the first fortification plans of Rochus Graf zu Lynar from 1578, a closely protected breakthrough to the water with a small harbor basin between the bastion Kronprinz and the Nordkurtine can be seen. In the course of construction works after an explosion at the end of the 17th century in this area, the boat harbor underwent some changes with enlargement of the harbor portal. The present condition shows on the one hand the classicistic remodeling of the portal from 1818 and at the same time a reconstruction of the harbor basin, which had been filled in since the 19th century until it was uncovered in 1995. The reinforced concrete blast chambers built in 1936 from here along the entire northern Kurtine to the Brandenburg bastion were demolished by the British Army in 1947.

Bastions

Bastion Crown Prince (Kronprinz)

The 16th-century structure, significantly developed by Rochus Graf zu Lynar (1525-1596), has, like the Bastion Brandenburg, a ramp for heavy guns and only one defensive corridor. The first profound architectural change happened at the end of the 17th century, when lightning struck the still existing powder tower on the plateau, causing a devastating explosion of the gunpowder stocks. Thus, some buildings on the west side of the courtyard were designed in Baroque style during the reconstruction, while other parts were designed in Classicist style in the 19th century.

The present exterior masonry is faced, as with the other bastions, and dates from 1881-1885.

From 1935 onwards, the Wehrmacht’s combat gas research department used the premises here as a central material store for the highly toxic chemicals. The last decontamination measures in the 1990s revealed numerous containers of warfare agents expertly buried with activated carbon.

Today, the former storage rooms are used at ground level for exhibitions and on the plateau for the Spandau Youth Art School (Jugengkunstschule).