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Cathedral museum

Visitors can absorb an impression of Berlin Cathedral’s varied architectural history by visiting the Cathedral museum. At the heart of the exhibition are the metres-high architectural models made using wood and plaster. They reveal the designs by the famous Prussian architect Friedrich August Stüler, which were never realised.

The models that mimic the interior of the present Cathedral to a scale of 1:25 are also impressive. Like in an oversized dolls’ house, the Imperial Staircase can be seen in the mirrored structure, the (demolished) Memorial Church (Denkmalskirche) and the interior of the Sermon Church (Predigtkirche).

Original and fake

A painting by the artist Albert Hertel that hangs in Berlin Cathedral is also certainly worth a visit. Up until the Second World War, the 'Nazareth' image hung in a prominent position, directly opposite the Imperial Staircase. Of the 13 pictures that adorned the Imperial Staircase, five were lost in the War, including the 'Nazareth'. Just a black-and-white photograph from the archives held at the State Palace and Gardens in Potsdam serves as a reminder of the Hertel image. There was also a near A4-size colour template. In 1988 the Brandenburg restorer and painter Ekkehard Koch reconstructed the ‘Nazareth’ painting for the Imperial Staircase based on photographs and other colour samples.

In 2011, a former curator at the castles and gardens of Sans Soucis discovered the painting – believed to have been lost long ago – in the so-called ‘foreign ownership catalogue’ of the old National Gallery. Although the picture was slightly damaged, it was returned to Berlin Cathedral. Thanks to a €15,000 donation from the Berlin Cathedral Construction Association (‘Berliner Dombau-Verein’) Koch was recommissioned for a second time with the work for ‘Nazareth’. This time he restored the original that has since hung in the Cathedral. However, it did not return to its original place but rather the Cathedral Museum, where visitors can still admire it today. The copy of the ‘Nazareth’ image is now also part of the Cathedral's history, and thus remained part of the Imperial Staircase.