Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin



Bricked-up widndows at the Kaiserliches Palais (Altes Palais) in Unter den Linden: now seat of the Law Department of the Humboldt University.

Altes Palais, also known as Kaiserliches Palais, was home to Kaiser Wilhelm I for fifty years of his life: he moved in in the 1830s as Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig, the younger son of King Friedrich Wilhelm III and his wife, Luise (probably the most popular monarch in the history of Prussia). His older brother became the next king, Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

Upon his death in 1861 (fours years earlier the childless Friedrich Wilhelm IV suffered a series of strokes which left him completely incapacitated), the throne was passed to Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig, Prinz von Preußen and regent ruling in his brother´s name.

Ten years later in Versailles near Paris, the king, who took the name of Wilhelm I, was proclaimed the Kaiser of the German Reich (mind you, he was not thrilled about it).

Wilhelm I. auf einem Porträt des Hoffotografen Wilhelm Kuntzemüller (1884)

1884 portrait of Wilhelm I by the court photographer, Wilhelm Kuntzemüller.

When he died on March 9, 1888 – 129 years ago today – the windows of his private room at the Kaiserliches Palais in Unter den Linden, from which he watched the change of guards at the Neue Wache every Wednesday at noon, got bricked up and remained blind for years.

As for his successor, Kaiser Friedrich III – who married Queen Victoria´s daughter, also called Victoria (Berlin´s Viktoriapark was named after her) – his reign was very short and dramatic: after only 99 days on the throne Friedrich, who had been suffering for months already, died of larynx cancer.

Wilhelm I. 1880 an seinem Schreibtisch Unter den Linden, Photographie

Kaiser Wilhelm I at his “den” at the Palais.

On June 15, 1888 Germany welcomed the third Kaiser that year, Wilhelm II. After the Dreikaiserjahr – Year of Three Emperors – he was the last one to carry that title.


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