Saturday, November 21, 2015

Another Berlin Wall

I shall temporarily suspend my blogging about the Holy Land and write about Berlin that I visited for a family affair.

There are some musts for visitors coming to Germany's capital:

Walking through Carl Gotthard Langhans's Brandenburg Gate,

My friend Kendall Schneider at the Brandenburg Gate
holding the copyright of the photo
spiraling on foot Norman Foster's steel and glass dome of the Reichstag building,

Photo taken in 2007
visiting a rest of Walter Ulbricht's infamous Wall, and more.

Former GDR border installations including the finely raked "death strip"
Red Baron knows Berlin like the back of his hand so whenever he has a chance to re-visit the city he rather is in quest for uncommon places.

Here is a picture of another wall that is well preserved for it dates back to the 18th century, the Akzisemauer (excise wall).

A rest of  Berlin's first wall
Governments be they local or federal need and like to levy taxes, citizens try to avoid them. Prussia's Frederick William I ordered a "wall" to be built around Berlin that was completed in 1737. It was erected not for defense purposes but to channel all traffic into the capital through 14 gates where customs duties had to be paid. Coffee was one of the severely taxed luxury goods. It is said the Frederick the Great entertained a sniffer police pinning down those citizens who had smuggled coffee beans and were roasting them at home. The Akzisemauer partly consisted of wooden palisades and was demolished during the 19th century. Only a few parts built from bricks survived that are meticulously preserved.

A hundred meters away on Waisenstraße (Orphans Street) is a highlight that Red Baron visits whenever he is in Germany's capital. It is Berlin's oldest inn although the building and its name are of recent times. Originally a groom of the ruling electoral prince had opened a brandy pub at the site in 1621 that in 1715 was baptized Zum Bierstübchen am Glockenspiel (Little Alehouse at the Glockenspiel) referring to the 52 bells and chimes of the nearby Parochial Church.

The restaurant newly decorated in 2008
Later the pub was renamed Zur letzten Instanz (Court of Last Instance) because many people needed a supporting drink before they were prepared to appear before their judges in one of the nearby courthouses.

Napoleon when he had triumphantly entered Berlin in 1806 lunched at the restaurant. So Red Baron always insists on sitting on the historic seat.

On Napoleon's seat in 2015

Historic photo of 2001 with the emperor's bust watching in the back
Whether the inn-keeper had served the French emperor Berlin food is not handed down. Red Baron opted for a Rindsroulade but sadly they had run out of beef olive. So I had to content myself with a Kohlroulade as in 2001. The stuffed cabbage was excellent but much too big so I had to drown it with a dark Märkischer Landmann (Mark Brandenburg peasant beer).

The nearby Parochial Church on Klosterstraße (Monestary Street) was destroyed during the war and has only been partly reconstructed. It seems however that the parish people have now collected enough money to rebuilt the missing steeple.

A dream is becoming true
About Waisenstraße: Orphanages in Prussia were a must at the time of Fredrick the Great. His Grenadiere (privates) who died a hero's death often made their pregnant wives (the king needs soldiers) to widows. They in turn frequently died of child-bed fever leaving a couple of children behind. The atheist king ruthlessly used the services of the Lutheran Church to care for those children so, e.g., the orphanage of the nearby Parochial Church.

Klosterstraße around 1800 showing the Parochial Church.
Two views photographed in nearby subway station Klosterstraße.

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