Best Churches in Berlin Walking Tour (Self Guided), Berlin

Berlin boasts a diversity of historic and modern religious sights. Among the most acclaimed ones are the places of worship centuries old, like St. Mary’s church, which is one of the city's oldest, dating back to the 13th century. Take this tour to discover the magnificent religious heritage of Berlin and its landmark temples.
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Best Churches in Berlin Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Best Churches in Berlin Walking Tour
Guide Location: Germany » Berlin (See other walking tours in Berlin)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.7 Km or 1.7 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
  • Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church)
  • Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church Museum)
  • St. Hedwig's Cathedral
  • Französischer Dom (French Dom)
  • Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral)
1
Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

1) Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) (must see)

As such, Berlin Cathedral has never been a “cathedral” in the actual sense of the term, simply because Berlin itself has never been the seat of a Catholic bishop. Initially, this site was occupied by a Calvinist Supreme Parish Church built by Johann Boumann the Elder in 1747-1750. In 1893 that building was dismantled to make place for the current Supreme Parish and Cathedral Church. Commissioned to the project were father and son, Julius and Otto Raschdorff, who produced an exuberant Neo-Renaissance style edifice.

With no separation between Protestant church and the state of Prussia, King William II covered the entire construction cost of 11.5 million Marks. At 114 meters long, 73 meters wide and 116 meters tall, this was much larger than any other building previously raised in Berlin, and was considered a Protestant counterweight to St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. On February 27, 1905, the cathedral was inaugurated.

Why You Should Visit:
The view from the dome is great and worth the steps – little bit narrow at times, but there are banisters to hold on to.
Inside the Cathedral is awe-inspiring with a magnificent organ, spectacular acoustics, precious works of art and sublime atmosphere.

Tip:
For a few €s, the audio guide offers plenty of interesting information (alternately, get a printed guide for just a few cents).
Follow signs to walk around all the cathedral's halls and be sure to climb to the roof terrace and go down into the crypt.
In the winter, come around 3pm to get the best of both daylight and dusk; the night illumination is absolutely beautiful.
In the summer, there is a large open lawn with a fountain across the street that would be great for a picnic.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9am-8pm; Sun: 12-8pm
2
Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church)

2) Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church)

Converted to a Lutheran Protestant church from its Roman Catholic denomination, Marienkirche together with Nikolaikirche are said to be the oldest churches in Berlin, dating back to the late 13 century. The unpretentious combination of architectural styles somehow makes it one of Berlin's most appealing churches, its simplicity a reminder of the city's village origins. If you like photography, there is a good spot with a fountain layout (not the Neptune Fountain) in the square right behind the Fernsehturm (TV tower) where you can get a perfect reflection of the church on water. Also on the roadside of the Church, take a look at the striking statue of Martin Luther, his right hand touching one of the pages of the Bible as if saying his now-famous phrase, "by faith alone".

The interior – an excellent place to escape the buzz – is rather austere Gothic with a few remarkably Baroque embellishments, in particular the pulpit, crowded with elaborately-carved cherubs blowing trumpets, and the baptismal with its legs formed from three black dragons. In terms of carving and gilding, the restored organ with old gilded filigree tops it all off, and the rousing recitals (by donation, on Thursdays and Fridays) are a real treat, with people frequently being invited to view the 18th-century instrument close up.

Just inside the entrance, the 22m-tall frieze, "The Dance of Death" commemorating the plague epidemics of the Dark Ages is currently being restored and not available for public viewing. On completion of its restoration, the church will be an unmissable stop for any traveler to Berlin.
3
Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church Museum)

3) Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas Church Museum)

Berlin's oldest church-turned museum, Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas' Church) has been a downtown landmark for over 800 years. Completed in 1230, this late-Gothic building is found in the city's oldest district, Nikolaiviertel (St. Nicholas' Quarter), just south of the Red Town Hall, and is recognizable by two impressive spires and stonework revealing a distinctive medieval past.

Today officially known as Museum Nikolaikirche, historically this has been more than just a religious site and a burial place for distinguished Berlin families, but also the seat of the city council and a heritage location. The first assembly of the city council was sworn into office here in 1809. From 1939, Nikolaikirche was no longer used as a church, and in 1987 was converted to a museum. Shortly after German reunification, in 1991 the first freely-elected Berlin-wide city parliament convened here. Following a comprehensive renovation, the building once again reopened to the public in 2010.

Today it holds a permanent exhibition, called “From the Base of the City to the Double Spire”, offering visitors insights into the history of the building and the surrounding area. It also plays host to various events, including concerts of organ music, fit to tempt anyone to return again and again. There is also a special program for children and youth.
4
St. Hedwig's Cathedral

4) St. Hedwig's Cathedral (must see)

St. Hedwig's Cathedral is a Roman Catholic temple and the seat of the Archbishop of Berlin, located in Bebelplatz. For almost 50 years, this area was part of East Berlin. Large and impressive, the circular cathedral was modeled on Rome's Pantheon, and opened its doors in 1773, being the first Roman Catholic temple in Prussia built after the Protestant Reformation.

By permission of King Frederick II, it served as a place of worship for the numerous Catholic migrants to Berlin, mainly those from Upper Silesia; hence its dedication to the patron of Silesia and Brandenburg, Saint Hedwig of Andechs. During World War II the building was severely damaged, particularly the copper dome, and was carefully restored and re-inaugurated in 1963.

The facade is traditional neoclassical design, while the inner space is all peacefulness and minimalism. It has ample room for seating (hard wooden seats), and features a beautiful oculus, imposing pipe organ, and the altar in the center. The stain glass windows contain geometrical patterns with limited decoration. A walk to the dome is 270+ steps, and is well worth the view.

A combination of nice organ music and a welcoming attitude from local parishioners towards foreign visitors make it a very pleasant place to be and get refreshed for the rest of the day of sightseeing. Highly recommended!

Why You Should Visit:
With a huge dome and oculus, this is an unusually structured Catholic cathedral.
The chapels contain some photogenic sculptures and the abstract geometric stained glass is rather nice.

Tip:
If you visit at 3pm on Wednesday, there is a 30-min organ concert. The sound is majestic and rich, and fills the space with surprisingly little echo.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed: 8am-2pm; Thu: 11:30am-5:30pm. The admission is free, but you can always leave a donation.
Sight description based on wikipedia
5
Französischer Dom (French Dom)

5) Französischer Dom (French Dom)

Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) is a colloquial name for the Französische Friedrichstadtkirche (French Church of Friedrichstadt) located in Gendarmenmarkt square of Berlin, opposite the Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral, named so for serving German-speaking congregants). Contrary to it, the French Church (or rather the first parts thereof), built from 1701 to 1705 by Louis Cayart and Abraham Quesnay, was designed to serve the French-speaking Huguenot (Calvinist) community of Berlin, which made up nearly 25% of the local population at the time.

The church was modeled on the destroyed Huguenot temple in Charenton-Saint-Maurice, France, and is not a cathedral in the strict sense of the word because it has never been the seat of a bishop. The domed tower, which is a viewing platform open to visitors, provides a panoramic vista of Berlin. In the basement, underneath the prayer hall, there is a restaurant. The tower also contains the Huguenot museum of Berlin.
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral)

6) Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) (must see)

Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) is a colloquial name for the Neue Kirche (New Church) on Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin, situated right across from Französischer Dom (French Cathedral). First built in 1701-1708 by Giovanni Simonetti, the cathedral was modified in 1780-1785 by Georg Christian Unger who added the eastern domed tower complete with the statues depicting characters from the Old and New Covenant, created by Christian Bernhard Rode. One of the statues, symbolizing the victorious virtue, is topping the dome.

The church was terribly damaged during WWII, in the bombing raid of 1943, and was subsequently rebuilt, from 1977 to 1988. Eventually, it was deconsecrated and reopened in 1996 as the Bundestag's museum of German parliamentary history. Very well organized and detailed, the exhibit, known as the Bundestag's Exhibition, spans five floors and covers the 1800s, World War I, Weimar Republic, Nazi era, Cold War era, and the current times. There is a replica of the Bundestag on one of the floors.

Another, perhaps even more interesting thing about it is a walk up the tower. Although you are not allowed all the way to the top, the stairs lead you to the landings where you can take some really cool shots of the cylindrical red brick tower topped by the dome. The stairwell is on the right of the cash register in the gift shop, with the stairs running around the outside of the tower, so the middle is open. This is an admission-free attraction.

If you are visiting Berlin and heading to Gendarmenmarkt, this beautiful church is well worth a visit.

Why You Should Visit:
To go on a great whistle-stop tour of the history of Germany that really puts both its successes and failures into perspective.
The descriptions are in German, but the free audio guide (English/French/German) is very clear; there are also tour guides, if needed.
The building itself is interesting too.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 10am-6pm; Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Berlin, Germany

Create Your Own Walk in Berlin

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Creating your own self-guided walk in Berlin is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Nightlife

Nightlife

Berlin is arguably the best clubbing city in Europe, if not the whole world, seeing thousands of party-goers flock in every weekend to the local bars and clubs to dance and drink themselves “into a frenzy” all night long, thanks to the most liberal opening hours. There's a bar or club for every taste here, especially in the Kreuzberg and Mitte neighborhoods - from filthy and loud joints...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.0 Km or 1.2 Miles
Barn Quarter Walking Tour

Barn Quarter Walking Tour

Scheuenviertel or "the Barn Quarter" was named so after the barns built here in the 17th century to store hay. Once the center of the Eastern Jewish community, nowadays Scheuenviertel is a trendy entertainment, art, and shopping zone.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.9 Km or 1.2 Miles
Museum Island Walking Tour

Museum Island Walking Tour

One of the most visited places in Berlin, the Museum Island ("Museumsinsel") complex was established by order of King Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1841 and houses several world-famous museums kept in close vicinity of each other. The island itself is spectacular for a walk, with wonderful architecture, statues, gardens and trees, so enjoy the atmosphere and make at least a day out...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Third Reich Walking Tour

Third Reich Walking Tour

The "Third Reich" and "Nazi Germany" are the common English names for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when it was a totalitarian state led by Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers' Party. Take this self-guided tour to get more familiar with the unparalleled history of the most destructive figure and regime of the 20th Century – Hitler and the Third Reich,...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.1 Km or 1.3 Miles
Tiergarten Walking Tour

Tiergarten Walking Tour

Tiergarten (German for Animal Garden) is a locality within the borough of Mitte, in central Berlin. It offers a good mix of restaurants, shops, theaters and cinemas, both Berliners and tourists come here to spend time. Take this tour to see Tiergarten's main attractions.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Berlin Orientation Walk

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Germany’s capital Berlin has been around as a city since the 13th century: first known as the capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg (1417–1701), then the Kingdom of Prussia (1701–1918), the German Empire (1871–1918), the Weimar Republic (1919–1933), and the Third Reich (1933–1945). After World War II and its subsequent occupation by the victorious allied forces, the city was split...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles

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