By Casey Schuller
We’ve reached our final class day in Berlin! Most of us still have one more full day left, but tonight will be spent finishing work and trying to do some last-minute bonding. I think leaving for all of us will be bittersweet. Berlin has been amazing, yet so many of us are excited to get back to our summer jobs and internships.
After we had a nice, albeit somewhat chilly, boat tour, we headed to the Charlottenburg Castle for one of our final class activities. This castle was built as a summer residence for Queen Sophie Charlotte and her husband Fredrick I. They were King and Queen of Prussia, but built themselves quite an extravagant getaway in Berlin. The castle was finished in 1699, and when Sophie was alive, the castle was named Lietzenburg. After she died, it was later renamed Charlottenburg Palace in her memory.
It is the largest palace in Berlin, and holds a lot of history since it dates back to the Hohenzollern dynasty. Unfortunately, Sophie died young in 1705, and the king took over the palace from there. The castle originally consisted of only the center section, which lasted until 1740 when Frederick the Great built two additional wings. Since he was the grandson of Frederick I, he took over the castle as he came into power. Even though the castle was damaged greatly during WWII, it has been reconstructed, allowing us to see a good portion of preserved rooms and paintings. Some of this, however, has been refurbished with items from the Berlin City Palace, and it holds one of the largest collections of French 18th century paintings. The “second apartment” Sophie built in the castle became her winter residence and experienced only a little damage due to the war. The library was the only room that survived completely untouched. These rooms allowed for better inventory and reconstruction of the rooms.
The palace is extravagant not only due to its size, but also because of the careful decorations inside. I mentioned the great paintings that cover the walls. In one room, the English audio tour guide stated that we were only seeing a small number of the original paintings. That room, a bed chamber, was supposed to hold 60 paintings, yet the walls were almost fully covered, and we were only seeing about 20 of them! That just sounds overwhelming to fall asleep with to me. Another great aspect of the castle is its beautiful ceiling art. Most of the ceilings were covered in a large, detailed painting, often corresponding to the use of the room.
The highlight of the tour for me was probably seeing the king’s white marble bathtub, which was so deep that it required six steps to walk down into it, and is topped with dolphin shaped taps. Since the king did not actually use the tub much, it was really more a symbol of his wealth. Then, in the next room, there is a huge collection of blue and white china completely covering the walls. It was amazing and startling to walk into; only by spending a few hours in there could one take it all in. The first floor was the main attraction of the tour, though a maze of rooms on the upper floor was available for a quicker walk-through.
By the end of the tour, we had walked through approximately 50 rooms, and that seemed like only a small portion of this mansion. I’m sure that the total value of the furniture and decorations is a number I would not even be able to comprehend. I was lucky enough to get the rights to take some photos of these rooms to add to the blog (for 3€, of course). I made a point to use this money well, which culminated in me taking about 90 pictures, only a few of which I have room to share here.
In the back of this beautiful castle is a massive array of baroque gardens that somehow makes this castle seem small. Although we did not walk through those today, they are free to the public and look like a gorgeous place to take a stroll or even a jog.
We certainly had our taste of luxury for the day. Though many of us may have dreamt of a castle that size (and as a summer home at that), I think we all agreed on the unnecessary excessiveness of much of what we saw. Maybe someday we will all have one to share thanks to our Colorado College education.
Until then, tschüss from Berlin!
Casey Schuller is entering her junior year at Colorado College. She is majoring in Sociology with a minor in Anthropology, and she is particularly interested in media and gender. She has been particularly challenged by this class, since for the first time in her life, she is being out-sassed by those around her.