Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
Today a little teaser. Behold the 1788 painting by Carl Traugott Fechhelm called “Blick auf den Friedrichstädtischen Markt”.
What is “Friedrichstätischer Markt”, you might wonder. And why does it look it Gendarmenmarkt? The answer it, because it IS Gendarmenmarkt. The plaza, which was created in 1700 when a new town, Friedrichstadt, was being built just outside Berlin, was not always called so.
Here are all the names you will encounter when researching the history of the place:
Lindenmarkt (used until the end of the 17th century; we have every reason to believe that the name harks back to the linden trees that grew there at the time).
Friedrichstädter Markt / Mittelmarkt (in 1700-1786 those were, in fact, two plazas in one).
Neuer Markt (1786-1799) (another Neuer Markt was the plaza next to Marienkirche, where Berlin´s Neptunbrunnen stands today, but this one was in old Berlin, so technically in a… different town).
Gensdarmen-Markt (spelling until mid-1890s; after Gens d`armes, “armed people”, or a French term for the King´s private guards; Brandenburgian Elector got his own gens d`armes in 1691 and in 1700 his Kürassierregiment Gens d´armes moved into their new quarters on Friedrichstadt´s Neuer Markt; soon the plaza, used by the troops for military exercises, got re-dubbed Gensdarmen-Markt; around 1903 the spelling was changed to Gensdarmenmarkt and some two years later the “s” was finally dropped).
Schillerplatz (1871-1936 part of the plaza was re-named after the Schiller Memorial was unveiled there in 1871 in front of the Royal Theatre (later Royal Concert Hall)).
Platz der Akademie (after WWII, from 1950 until 1991 the plaza, lovingly renovated by the East-Berlin authorities for the city´s 750th birthday in 1987; it was named in honour of the German Academy of Sciences, until 1946 Prussian Academy of Sciences).
Gendarmenmarkt again from 1991 until now.