Friends of Italian Opera
The Church of the Franciscan Monastery, dating from the middle of the
thirteenth century, is the oldest and most beautiful Gothic building in
Berlin. In 1574 the monastery was converted to a grammar school. The school
produced its own dynasty of teachers, the Bellermanns, and famous pupils
like Friedrich Schleiermacher, Karl Friedrich Schinkel and Otto von
The school continues to this day, and its legendary reputation is still
cultivated elsewhere in the city. In 1945 the church was badly damaged, and
after the war it was kept as a ruin. The proximity of Alexanderplatz
heightens its dramatic impact even more. You can view the giant shape of the
television tower directly through the open roof and the holes in the walls.
In 1992 the association ‘Church Ruins’ was founded, which campaigns for the
highly atmospheric ruins to be utilised by the arts. In the summer months,
musical and theatrical performances, plus readings and exhibitions, take
place in the open air. One negative effect of this busy cultural programme
is that what was once an undefined space you could stumble on and relish as
a unique find, now creaks under the weight of the sheer amount of culture it
offers. The city stroller will often find the gates closed.
From the monastery church, a pleasant path leads to Waisenstraße along
remains of the old city wall, past the historic restaurant “Zur letzen
Instanz” and over the cemetery of the Parochialkirche to that other
magnificent church ruin.