Essential Architecture-  Berlin

Palast der Republik DDR Parliament




central Berlin




Socialist Modern


curtain glazing, steel frame


  Site of Berliner Stadtschloss, currently being rebuilt.
  SED Partyday, 1981, in the great hall of the Palace.
  Sitting forlorn.
  Being demolished.
  Inside the Palast der Republik in 2003, after asbestos and interior furnishings were removed
Palast der Republik

The Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic) was a building in Berlin, on the bank of the River Spree between Schlossplatz and the Lustgarten (both referred to jointly as Marx-Engels-Platz from 1951 to 1994). It served primarily as the seat of the East German parliament, the Volkskammer, but it also housed two large auditoriums, art galleries, restaurants and a bowling alley.

Noteworthy events held at the Palast
Some of the most noteworthy events hosted at the Palast der Republik included the party congresses of the Socialist Unity Party (SED) and the state gala on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the GDR in October 1989, at which Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was present. In October 1983, the West German rock star Udo Lindenberg was surprisingly permitted to perform in concert at the Palast der Republik. At the concert, Lindenberg sang one of his best-known songs, Sonderzug nach Pankow ("Special Train To Pankow"), which satirized East German leader Erich Honecker, and which he had been asked not to play.

The Palast was constructed from 1973 to 1976 in the prevailing architectural style for East German buildings, with bronze mirrored windows. The grand opening ceremony was held on 23 April 1976, and the building was opened to the public on 25 April 1976. It was built on the site of the old Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace), which was damaged during World War II but finally demolished by the GDR authorities in 1950, as they regarded it a symbol of Prussian imperialism. It was sometimes nicknamed "Ballast der Republik" ("Ballast of the Republic"), "Erichs Lampenladen" ("Erich's Lamp Shop", referring to Erich Honecker and the 1001 lamps hanging in the foyer), or "Palazzo Prozzo."

Asbestos contamination
Just prior to German reunification in October 1990, the building was found to be contaminated with asbestos and was closed to the public on 19 September 1990 by decree of the Volkskammer. By 2003, all the asbestos had been removed along with internal and external fittings and was ready for demolition. The shell of the building was opened for visitors in the summer of 2003, and a pressure group campaigned for temporary use of the building for cultural events until its eventual demolition. Beginning in the spring of 2004 the building was used for events such as housing an exhibition of the Terracotta Army or a special concert by the famous Berlin-based band Einstürzende Neubauten that seemed to be fitting very well into the debate about the deconstruction, as the band's name means "collapsing new buildings" in English.

In November 2003, the German parliament decided to demolish the building and leave the area as parkland until funding for the reconstruction of the Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) could be found. Demolition started on 6 February 2006 and is scheduled to last about 15 months. The demolition will be carried out as a careful and slow process in order not to endanger neighbouring historical buildings such as the Berliner Dom. The cost of the demolition is estimated at 12 million euros. Funding for the planned reconstruction of the City Palace is still being arranged. The official cost estimate starts at 400 million euros, although a much higher figure is suggested by some.