The first time I heard about plans to rebuild the City Palace in Berlin was in August 1999 when I visited the city for the first time. In a souvenir shop at “Unter den Linden” I found a petition, which I of course signed immediately. In the past few years I regularly received special magazines reporting about the progress. I never got as far as buying myself a stone, statue or other ornament, but it was fascinating reading how plans became reality. When I visited Berlin again in August 2011 the Humboldt-Box had been opened near the site, and inside people could already get themselves a better idea of the building plans. The total costs of the rebuilding are estimated to be 595 million Euros.
The royal palace was originally built in the 15th century, and changed during the next centuries. It was the residence of the Electors of Brandenburg, the Kings of Prussia and the Emperors of Germany. The palace was bombed by the allied troups in World War II and heavily damaged. Despite protests it was finally demolished in 1950. On the site East Germany built themselves a new Council of State in 1964, which was replaced in the 1970s by the Palace of the Republic. That Palace was demolished between 2006 and 2008.
The first real steps finally have been taken now. The foundation stone of the new palace was laid by the German President Joachim Gauck during a ceremony on 12 June. Among the honorary guests were Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie of Prussia. The Prince said that it was a very special day to him. He said he can hardly believe that it is really starting now. It is hoped that the building will be completed in 2019. Afterwards it will be a museum with collections of African and non-European art.
More information can be found on the website of the Berliner Schloss.