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Palace of the Republic

Palace of the Republic

The asbestos palace of the GDR

Between 1974 and 1976, the GDR government built the lavishly decorated Palast der Republik, a showpiece project on Marx-Engels-Platz, which housed the East German Parliament, theater halls, several restaurants and a bowling hall.

For a few euros, ordinary GDR citizens were served a multi-course meal. The large concert hall could extend stands depending on the number of expected visitors.


But after the fall of the Wall in 1989, the Palast quickly became Berlin's most famous ruin. In 1990, the building closed its doors due to asbestos. The Berlin city council decided to strip the building and make it asbestos-free completely.

After the work, the cultural association Volkspalast organized various cultural events in the building. The city of Berlin even received a compliment from UNESCO for its creative handling of vacant buildings in November 2005.

But all this was to no avail: in mid-2006, the government gave the go-ahead for the demolition of the Palast, which led to several protest marches and petitions.


The demolition took longer than expected, partly due to the discovery of even more asbestos. At the end of 2008, the demolition was completed, the rubble was removed via ships on the Spree, and the 35,000 tons of steel ended up in the 830-meter-high Burj Khalifa tower, according to the newspaper Deutsche Welle in the United Arab Emirates.


No sooner had one palace disappeared than plans to reconstruct the lost Stadtschloss surfaced again. In the summer of 2013, the foundation stone of the Berliner Schloss - the Humboldt Forum - was laid. The reconstructed historical Stadtschloos opened its doors in 2021.

The former Schloss was the symbolic center of the German Emperor until 1894, when the German Reichstag was built to house the Parliament. After the First World War, in November 1918, Karl Liebknecht announced the German Socialist Republic, and during the Weimar Republic, the Stadtschloss was turned into a museum.

Blown up

The castle was heavily destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. In the 1950s, the GDR government completely demolished the building because restoration would be too expensive (and because the GDR saw the castle as a symbol of Prussian imperialism).

In addition, the Soviets used the ruins as a backdrop for the shooting of a war film, in which real grenades were fired. The facades that had survived the war were severely damaged and were eventually razed to the ground to make way for a new palace, the GDR-Palace of the Republic.

Only remainder

The only trace of the Palace of the Republic is the ticket counter on the banks of the Spree. Above the counter, you will see a plaque with the ornate letters "PdR" on it, in full "Palast der Republik." 

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