The Friedenssäule at the heart of Mehringplatz is a heart of peace.  ⠀

Mehringplatz, or Belle-Alliance Platz to use its original name, is a nightmare of post World War Two architecture. Once one of the more beautiful locations within the old city of Berlin, the circular platz was decimated during the air raids over Berlin of February 3rd 1945.

Originally the plaza was built as part of Friedrich Wilhelm I, the Soldier King’s, expansion of Berlin known as Friedrichstadt. The extension west of the city was crowned with Pariser Platz and the original Brandenburger Tor. To the south-west the hexagonal Leipziger Platz. And, to the south, the circular platz originally called Das Rondell, and eventually called Belle-Alliance Platz or the the Beautiful Alliance Platz.

When it had its name changed to Belle-Alliance Platz it was in regard to the victory of Belle-Alliance. A battle well remember but often forgotten. It was the battle that ended Napoleon’s career at the end of the 100 days reign. When Wellington’s forces were almost beaten, and Napoleon had victory in his eyes, but the Prussian Field Marshal von Blücher rode in and saved the day. von Blücher the Prussian, and Wellington the Brit met at the end of the battle, shook hands and agreed to call the battle, the battle of the beautiful alliance. However, Wellington had other plans. When he returned to England he announced that he had won the battle and therefore it shall take its name from his command post, Waterloo. The Prussians of old called it and Germans still today call it by Belle-Alliance.

So Das Rondell was changed into Belle Alliance and a column erected to remember the wars of liberation from Napoleon.

The Friedenssäule, or Peace Column, was erected in 1843 on the 30th anniversary of the battle of Großbeeren where a renewed French army’s attempt to re-occupy Berlin was ended by the Prussian coalition, the statue that adorns the column is of Victory by Christian Daniel Rauch.

The platz would become one of the most beautiful in the city, full of shops and cafes. However, as so much of Berlin city centre was, Adolf Hitler’s war would bring it to destruction. The buildings collapsed and the gate where once Napoleon fled Berlin through was destroyed. The column, the heart of peace, was damaged but not destroyed. ⠀

Hans Scharoun, one of the famous Bauhaus architects, was in charge of the overall redesigning much of Berlin. Belle-Alliance Platz was to be a social living space, where roads were to be given to green space. It was to be recalled Franz Mehring Platz and it would lack character and beauty. Becoming an obsolete plaza characterised by dirt, tatty shops and seedy casinos. Only the Friedenssäule and a few other statues survived, becoming ghosts of a once great platz.  ⠀

Find out more about this and much much more with a private tour with The Berlin Tour Guide. Visit http://theberlintourguide.com/tours for more information.