Door to a vanished masterpiece

Schinkel's door - a historic remnant of the Bauakademie, Berlin

Tucked away down a quiet street behind Unter den Linden you'll find an isolated entranceway, and a rather magnificent one, at that.

If it seems oddly out of place, that's because it is: this extravagant portal was transplanted here in the 1970s and once belonged to a very important building indeed.

Berlin secrets: remnants of one of Berlin's most important buildings

Let's backtrack a little. If the name 'Karl Friedrich Schinkel' (1781-1841) doesn't ring any bells, you've probably not yet visited Berlin.

The celebrated architect, urban planner and painter was responsible for much of the city's early 19th century redesign, and his surviving works include many of Berlin's most photographed buildings and monuments.

Schinkel's earliest projects were neoclassical in style, but in 1832 he made the bold move of constructing the so-called Bauakademie (Building Academy) entirely in brick and with a relatively streamlined, block-like form.

A forerunner of much of Germany's later 19th century architecture, the innovative design, combining functionality with richly decorative exterior detail, is considered by many as the first of Berlin's essentially 'modern' buildings.

Beautiful terracotta tiling on Schinkel's 'lost' academy door
Hidden history in Berlin: Schinkel's door

Unfortunately, it ended up in East German territory after the war, and wasn't quite modern enough for GDR authorities. In 1962 it was demolished to make way for a concrete ministry.

Parts of the building were saved, however, and the magnificent doorway here - once a main entrance into Schinkel's masterpiece - was incorporated by GDR architects into the Schinkelklause restaurant in 1970.

The site of Schinkel's Bauakademie, Berlin

If the saga of the Bauakademie already seems complex, it's a story that still has no end.

After reunification, the GDR ministry was pulled down in turn, and amid endlessly ongoing proposals to reconstruct Schinkel's seminal edifice, what currently stands in its place is a temporary structure created with printed hoardings.

For now at least, the only way to glimpse a tiny part of the real Bauakademie is to turn past the substitute and head for a narrow back street.

See also:
Remnants of a palace
Berlin's beautiful metro line

Schinkel door: Werdersche Rosenstraße (off Oberwallstraße) 10117 Berlin

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