If the flag is flying on the roof…
an unmistakable sign at Bellevue Palace …
the Federal President is in the Berlin city area. Whether he is then in his official residence on the outskirts of Berlin or in his offices in the palace can only be guessed by taking a walk along the edge of the Großer Tiergarten.
History of the castle
Ferdinand of Prussia, the youngest brother of Frederick II, had the palace built in 1785/86. The master builder Boumann had the task of incorporating the existing buildings into his planning.
A three-winged complex was created. The central building was elongated and had two and a half stories, the two side wings were two-story.
The palace stands directly on the banks of the Spree. If one looked out of the windows to the west at that time, one could see far over the park and the Spree and even spot the dome of Charlottenburg Palace. Because of this beautiful view, the palace was named Bellevue.
Ferdinand of Prussia used the Early Classicist palace as a princely pleasure palace and royal country residence until his death in 1813.
In 1843, King Frederick William IV became the new owner of the palace. He set up the first museum for contemporary art in Prussia in one of the palace wings. From 1865, the royal family again used the palace as a residence and guest house, and later the emperor’s children received their private lessons in the rooms.
During the First World War, Bellevue Palace served as a meeting place for the army command, the government and the Allied warring parties. Afterwards, the building stood empty and was later used as an office building, a people’s kitchen, an exhibition hall, rental apartments were built in and the State Museum for German Folklore was housed there.
In 1939, Reich Minister and Head of the Presidential Chancellery Otto Meissner moved into the building.
In April 1941, Bellevue Palace was hit by incendiary bombs and burned out. After the war, it was first secured in a makeshift manner.
Bellevue Palace after the Second World War
Later, an architect was commissioned to rebuild the palace as the Berlin official residence of the Federal President, but without the ministerial wing. The result was typical of the style of the 1950s, very modernistic and not very typical of a palace. No wonder, then, that only thirty years later they renovated and tried to restore Bellevue Palace according to old plans. Apparently, the technical renewal had not been pushed ahead. Sometimes an elevator got stuck, sometimes the electricity and water supply failed. The then Federal President Roman Herzog was rightly appalled by the state of affairs and so in 2004/2005 a renovation and fundamental renewal of the technical equipment was carried out.
Did you know that…
- Prince Ferdinand received famous visitors in the castle: Napoleon, the Humboldt brothers and Friedrich Schiller were his guests, for example.
- there are two salons in the palace that still look as they did at the time of the first Federal President Theodor Heuss. Thanks to the preservation order!
- the Langhans Hall, where today, for example, receptions are held, is the only room in the castle that has been rebuilt in the classicist style.
- the sandstone figures on the portal gable represent hunting, farming and fish farming.
- there is a bunker under the chateau, which was built there in 1941 to protect the guests. Today the bunker is under water.
- the palace park had to be redesigned after the Second World War. Here, the Federal President not only receives his state visit with all the military honors that go with it, but civic festivities and the Open House are also held here.
- You can visit Bellevue Palace on a guided tour. Thereby one is led around by employees of the Office of the Federal President. The lead time is about 9 months and there may be cancellations due to official appointments.
- from 1994 to 1999, Roman Herzog was the only Federal President to also live in Bellevue Palace. When Johannes Rau took office, the apartment was converted into administrative offices.
- in the disguise of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Hape Kerkeling (Comedian, actor) managed to drive up to Bellevue Palace in 1991 before the real queen arrived.