25 November 2016
  |   Until:  
23 April 2017


The residence shifts to the centre (1650 – 1800)

For centuries, the Berlin Palace dominated the city. Following severe damage during the Second World War, GDR authorities decided to demolish it. Now, it’s being rebuilt with a contemporary function as the Humboldt Forum. However, the focal point of the city was not always the palace. It was the Great Elector and the Prussian kings who shifted it from a spot on the outskirts to become the heart of the city when they undertook an expansion of their capital to the west.  

The special exhibition at the Ephraim-Palais, covering three entire floors, is dedicated to the Berlin Palace and its significance for the city and its residents. Period drawings, paintings and maps show how it became an urban centre for business and society. Fragments of the destroyed palace from the Stadtmuseum Berlin’s collection remind us of the lost glory of the illustrious Baroque structure, a symbol of power that the first Prussian king used to substantiate his claim to the crown.

View of Brüderstraße from the palace, 1690. Copperplate engraving by Johann Stridbeck © Stadtmuseum Berlin

Rise of the royal seat

As a consequence of the devastating Thirty Years’ War, the Great Elector Frederick William of  Brandenburg started making Berlin into a fortified stronghold in 1650. After his son was crowned king in 1701, becoming Frederick I, the royal seat developed into the political centre of the new Kingdom of Prussia, and the palace became a symbol of power for the aspiring monarchy. In the following hundred years, it became the definitive point of reference for city planners, architects and the citizens of Berlin.

The exhibition features large-format city models and multimedia presentations that show the city's rapid growth, in large part due to recruited immigrant workers. Artefacts from the period between 1650 and 1800 tell the story of people’s lives during this era, which was once more a time of expansion and upheaval for Berlin. The exhibition gives visitors a chance to get to know not only the rulers and court society, but also the craftsmen, master builders and entrepreneurs – natives and immigrants who shaped the city’s transformation. 

A journey of discovery through space and time

Located within walking distance of the Berlin Palace in the Nikolaiviertel district, the Ephraim-Palais will be the starting point for a journey through space and time. An extensive accompanying programme invites visitors to discover Berlin, both past and present, and to get to know the city from new perspectives. A diverse range of offerings inspires visitors to explore the area between the Ephraim-Palais and the Berlin Palace for themselves and to witness first hand how the former royal seat became the modern city of Berlin. While the old Baroque Berlin with its richly adorned façades has almost completely disappeared, one can still see the mark of the people who built the city in its streets and squares.

Visitors are offered a free audio guide of the exhibition. There's a special kids' audioguide for young visitors. 


Palace.City.Berlin. The Residence shifts to the centre (1650-1800), Holy Verlag © Stadtmuseum Berlin

The Residence shifts to the centre (1650-1800)
Holy Verlag, English version available!