Rotes Rathaus: behind doors at city hall

Rotes Rathaus, Berlin: postcard view, 1901

At some point, just about every Berlin visitor will stumble across the Rotes Rathaus, or 'Red City Hall'.

So-named because of its distinctive red brick structure (or due, perhaps, to a history of politically left-leaning mayors), its central location on the edge of Alexanderplatz makes this beautiful building almost impossible to miss.

Berlin city town hall - detail of ceiling

Few seem to realise, however, that it's open to the public; and even if pushing past those heavy wooden doors can feel slightly intimidating, the impressive interiors are certainly worth a visit.

GDR era stained glass in the Rotes Rathaus, Berlin

Constructed between 1861 and 1867, the edifice was severely damaged during WWII and restored in the mid-1950s.

By that time, the building served as the city hall for East Berlin, meaning that GDR-era embellishments such as striking stained glass (above) intermingle with 19th-century ornamentation.

The beautiful 19th century interior of Berlin city hall

Particularly lovely is the Säulensaal, or 'room of columns' (above), which houses a collection of rarely seen plasterworks. Even if you're unable to identify the various royals, politicians and other ancient VIPs on display, you can certainly marvel at the hall's classical proportions and soaring, 9-metre-high ceilings.

Rotes Rathaus: Rathausstraße, 10178 Berlin. Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm

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