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City hall building: Rotes Rathaus

With its imposing and striking facade, the Rotes Rathaus, or red City Hall, is one of the landmarks of Berlin. It is the seat of the city hall and the Berlin City Council. Located very close to Alexanderplatz, it bears this name because of the red bricks used for its construction.

Designed for Hermann Friedrich Waesemann in a neo-Renaissance style, the Rotes Rathaus was built between 1861 and 1869. This monumental building is almost 100 meters wide and its tower is 74 meters high.

On the first floor there is a frieze called the “stone chronicle” with 36 terracotta reliefs showing events in the history of Berlin and Brandenburg from the 12th century to 1871.

Like most buildings in Berlin, the Rotes Rathaus was also severely damaged during World War II and was restored between 1951 and 1958.

After the division of the city, the Rotes Rathaus remained on the Soviet-controlled side and therefore housed the East Berlin City Hall, while the West Berlin city hall was moved to the Schöneberg Rathaus – located in the district of the same name. Since 1991, after the fall of the wall and reunification, it has once again become the reunified Berlin City Hall.

In the area in front of the Rotes Rathaus is one of the oldest fountains in Berlin, the Neptunbrunnen – Neptune Fountain. The fountain is 18 meters in diameter and 10 meters high. In its center is a figure of the Roman god of the sea, Neptune, surrounded by four women representing the four main rivers of Prussia: the Rhine, the Elbe, the Vistula and the Oder.

Designed by Reinhold Begas, the Neptunbrunnen was inaugurated in November 1891 and was originally located on the Palace Square, opposite the Berlin Palace. After the demolition of the palace in 1951, the fountain was removed from the palace square. After being restored, as it had also suffered war damage, the fountain was placed in 1969 in the area between the Fernsehturm and the Rotes Rathaus.

Right in front of you is the Marienkirche or St. Mary’s Church, one of the oldest churches in Berlin. The exact date of its construction is not known, it is estimated that it was erected at the beginning of the 13th century, but the church is mentioned for the first time in the registers in 1292. Originally it was a Catholic church, but after the Protestant Reformation it became a Lutheran Protestant church.

Also near the Rotes Rathaus is the Marx-Engels-Forum, a monument in honor of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the authors of the Communist Manifesto and who are considered the fathers of communism. The Marx-Engels-Forum was built in 1986 by the government of the Democratic Republic of Germany and is (was) essentially a square with some works of art and, in the center, a large bronze statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

However, due to the extension of the U5 line to the Brandenburg Gate, this square was fenced off and closed for the subway works and the statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels was moved to the side of the square, facing the Liebknechtbrücke bridge.

How to get there

Address: Rathausstraße 15 – Mitte, 10178 Berlin

S-Bahn: Lines S5, S7 and S75, station S+U Alexanderplatz
U-Bahn: Lines U2, U5 and U8, S+U Alexanderplatz station
Bus: Lines 100, 200 and TXL, stop Spandauer Str./Marienkirche