Posts Tagged ‘Coelln’

House of One – three faiths under one roof

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Berlin’s House of One, when completed, will be the spiritual equivalent of the confederation of Switzerland, which has four main linguistic and cultural regions. The House of One will bring together three different faiths under one roof: a church, a synagogue and a mosque. The concept of a house of worship shared by Christians, Jews and Muslims is a “first” in the world. It is the hope of the project’s initiators that the House of One will eventually tear down the walls between religions just as the fall of Berlin Wall removed the barriers between East and West Berlin a quarter of a century ago.

What the House of One will look like

Plans have already been drawn. Berlin architect Wilfried Kuehn of Kuehn Malvezzi GmbH designed an interfaith prayer house that has three separate sections. A communal room in the center of the building will link the three areas and seat 380 people. Each of the worship areas will be the same in size but of different shape, allowing each religion to keep its own identity.

Originators of The House of One

The three men now heading the House of One project are: Pastor Gregor Hohberg, Rabbi Tovia Ben Chorin, and Imam Kadir Sanci.

Protestant pastor Gregor Hohberg of Berlin’s St. Marienkirche (St. Mary’s) first conceived of the idea of an interfaith house of worship when a 2009 redevelopment excavation unearthed the ruins of Berlin’s very first church. That archaeological discovery pointed to fragments of the foundation of St. Petri (St. Peters), built in the 13th century. The church was named after St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen. St. Petri had already been destroyed and rebuilt several times when the communist government of East Germany decided to demolish the church altogether in the 1960s. Currently, a parking lot occupies the space.

Location of the House of One

Once built, the House of One will be located at the Petriplatz (Petri Square) in the historical birthplace of Berlin between Breite Strasse and Gertraudenstrasse. In medieval times, the square was not located in the historical center of Berlin but that of Coelln, Berlin’s sister city.

Funding of House of One

The religious leaders are still in the process of raising funds for the construction of the House of One. The goal is to raise 43 million euros and to finance the project entirely through crowdfunding, by selling bricks for €10 each. So far, one million euros have been raised. Construction is to begin in earnest once the first €10,000,000 has been raised.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of



Wittelsbach and Luxembourg Dynasties

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Following the extinction of the House of Ascania in 1320, Brandenburg – and therefore Berlin – came under the control of the Wittelsbach and Luxembourg Dynasties. In 1323, the King of Germany, Louis IV of the House of Wittelsbach, granted the territory to his eldest son, Louis V, “The Brandenburger.” After the King’s death, The Brandenburger gave the margraviate to his two half-brothers, Louis VI, “The Roman” and Otto V, “The Bavarian,” in exchange for the sole rule over Upper Bavaria. The brothers succeeded in establishing Brandenburg as an electorate of the Holy Roman Empire. Thereafter, they ruled as Kurfuersten – Prince-electors – of Brandenburg. Following the death of “The Roman” in 1365, his brother Otto neglected government and pawned part of the margraviate to a crusading military order, the Teutonic Knights.

In 1323, Louis IV grated the Margraviate of Brandenburg to his son Louis V

Tomb of Louis IV of the House of Wittelsbach
Frauenkirche, Munich

Fifty years later, the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV, forced Otto V to abdicate and installed his own son, Wenceslaus, from the House of Luxembourg. Subsequently, The Margraviate of Brandenburg became the object of a long and fierce feud between the Wittelsbach and Luxembourg Dynasties. The effects of these disputes devastated the region. Finally, the people of Berlin-Coelln appealed to the Holy Roman Emperor for assistance. He, in turn, appointed Friedrich V von Hohenzollern as their special protector.

When Wenceslaus was elected King of Germany and Bohemia, his brother, Sigismund, took control of Brandenburg. Sigismund eventually gave the territory to his cousin Jobst as security for a substantial loan. But Sigismund later regained control and was elected King of Germany. In 1415 the Electorate of Brandenburg was officially handed to the House of Hohenzollern, which would rule until World Word I – for almost five hundred years.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.



The Ascanian Dynasty

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Coelln and Berlin grew rapidly during the Ascanian Dynasty. The House of Ascania reigned from 1157 to 1320. Albert the Bear, the first Margrave of Brandenburg (which includes Berlin) inherited the territory upon the death of the childless Slavic Prince Pribislav. In short order Albert the Bear solidified his rule and led a number of military campaigns against the Slavic population that co-inhabited the area along with Germanic peoples. He encouraged Germanic migration and subjugated the Slaves to Christianity. Upon his death, control over the territory went to his descendants in succession: Otto I (Albert’s son), Otto II (son of Otto I), Albert II (brother of Otto II), and finally John I and Otto III (sons of Albert II and co-rulers).

Albert the Bear, founder of the Ascanian Dynasty

House Order of Albert the Bear
first Margrave of Brandenburg

During the years of John and Otto’s co-rule, the Margraviate saw massive geographic expansion. The brothers were instrumental in the rapid development of Coelln and Berlin by conferring special privileges upon the twin towns, such as staple rights. These were important rights sometimes given to selected ports. Staple rights required passing merchant ships to unload their cargo and display it for sale for a specified period before being allowed to reload any unsold goods and to continue their journey. Possessing staple rights gave Coelln and Berlin important economic advantages over other nearby ports, such as the much older fortification of Spandau.

In 1258 John and Otto divided the territory into Brandenburg Stendal and Brandenburg Salzwedel. From 1266 to 1319 the four sons of John I (John II, Conrad, Otto IV, and Henry) and the four descendants of Otto III (John III, Otto V, Otto VI, and Albert III) shared the title of “Margrave of Brandenburg” and ruled jointly. With the death of John V In 1317, the last grandson of Otto III, the Ottonian line died out. And when Henry II, eleven-year-old grandson of John I, died three years later that line became extinct as well.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.



Coelln and Berlin

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

During the 13th century, itinerant merchants founded two trading posts, on opposite sites of the Spree River, Coelln and Berlin. Coelln was first cited in a 1237 deed. The date is commonly regarded as the origin of Berlin, although the city is not mentioned until 1244.

Cölln is first cited in 1237, Berlin in 1244

Berlin (red), Coelln (yellow) Two settlements on opposite sides of the River Spree

The twin settlements were located between the already established towns of Spandau to the northwest and Koepenick to the southeast. Since Coelln and Berlin were on the trading route between Madgeburg and Frankfurt/Oder, they grew quickly. Initially, the Muehlendamm – Mill Dam – that crossed the River Spree served as the only connection between them. Each settlement had its own town hall and mayor. Relations were often tense. When a fire swallowed up a large part of Coelln, the people of Berlin declined to help. But they begged Coelln for assistance only two years later when their own town was burning. An outbreak of the Bubonic plague in Coelln caused Berlin to block the Mill Dam in order to keep the contagions in check. But when a Berlin woman spotted a dead body on the far side of the causeway to Cölln, she climbed over the barriers to steal his jacket. By doing so, she spread the epidemic to Berlin.

In 1307 Coelln and Berlin merged into a single town to improve the inhabitants’ prospects for defending against the sovereign. They constructed a second crossing, the Lange Bruecke – Long Bridge which was later renamed the Rathausbruecke -Town Hall Bridge. It still exists today and is Berlin’s second oldest bridge. A bridge was also constructed to replace the Mill Dam. It was called the Muehlendammbruecke and is now Berlin’s oldest bridge, located between Gertraudenstrasse and Molkenmarkt.

The original two settlements were situated just southwest of today’s Alexanderplatz and the Nikolai section. While Berlin grew into a cosmopolitan city, Coelln became part of its historic core. Its northern peak has become known as Museum Island and its southern part as Fischerinsel – Fishermen’s Island. Coelln’s name survives only in Berlin’s southeastern borough of Neukoelln.


For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of Walled-In is a story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.