Don’t forget to head downstairs to the underground room where you can find the remains of an unknown soldier, as well as soil taken from battlefields and concentration camps.
One of the finest Neoclassical buildings in Berlin, Neue Wache was originally designed to look like part of a fortified Roman encampment. To that end, famed architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel built this old guardhouse with sturdy towers at each of its four corners, and an imposing six-column Doric colonnade at the front. The result is powerful yet elegant, with elements of ancient Greek temples blending with the strong military theme.
Neue Wache was commissioned by King Frederick William III of Prussia as a guardhouse for his Royal Palace across the road. It was completed in 1818, and retained its function for 100 years, until the fall of the German monarchy at the end of the First World War. The building has been rededicated several times since then, until finally being christened with its current name, the “Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship” in 1993.
Beneath the Oculus
As you approach the building, take a moment to admire the splendid frieze at the top of the columns, which is decorated with intricately carved bas-reliefs of the Roman goddess of victory. On the pediment above are more carvings, depicting the symbolic figures of Battle, Victory, Flight and Defeat. Inside, Neue Wache is largely bare, save for a single statue entitled "Mother with her Dead Son”. It was designed in 1938 by Käthe Kollwitz, who lost her youngest son in the First World War, and serves as a poignant reminder of the tragedy of war.
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