Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin


Wrangelbrunnen on its original spot in Kemperplatz with the Siegessäule visible in the background (photo: Berlin Landesarchiv)

Wrangelbrunnen, a beautiful neo-classicist fountain designed by Hugo Hagen was unveiled in March 1877 at the no longer existing Kemperplatz in the Tiergarten (now more or less the large junction before the exit to the Tiergarten Tunnel).
In August 1902 it was replaced by another famous Berlin fountain, Rolandbrunnen, presented to the city by Kaiser Wilhelm II and placed at the southern end of Siegesallee, a road lined with 32 marble statues of Wilhelm’s forefathers: Brandenburgian margraves, electors and Prussian kings.
Rolandbrunnen became the opposite pole to the thus created view axis at whose northern end stood back then Berlin’s Siegessäule, the Victory Column: until 1938 the Siegessäule had its prominent place at Königsplatz (now Platz der Republik) before the Reichstag building.

Kemperplatz with Rolandbrunnen (looking north). Image via Blekinge Museum, Karlskrona, Sweden.

The column was moved to the Große Stern, a massive multi-lane roundabout in the Tiergarten Park, as part of the Nazi urban refurbishment programme: it had to be relocated for the new Ost-West-Achse (East-West Axis) of the future World Capital, Germania.

Siegesalle in the Tiergarten Park, 1903.

Interestingly, before all the moving, relocating and refurbishment – from 1902 the Wrangelbrunnen has been standing at the admittedly rather beautiful location on the corner of Grimmstraße and Urbanstraße in Berlin-Kreuzberg – Hugo Hagen’s fountain not only faced Golden Lizzie (Gold Else), as Berliners call the statue of Victoria on top of the Victory Column, but they also enjoyed common roots. Both the Victoria and the Wrangelbrunnen were made by the same fine art foundry: by Kunstgießerei Gladenbeck.

Wrangelbrunnen in Kreuzberg (image by notmsparker).



  1. Babewyn
    Apr 23, 2018

    I always thought that fountain was rather too grand for the relative historical (in-)significance of the location at Grimmstr. in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

    I have always love the modernity of the fountain which includes a paddle steamer as one of its motifs. In 1877 that must have been a bit like if one were to build a fountain today that contains an ICE train. How very contemporary!? Makes Reinhold Begas’ (personally Begas puts me to sleep – yawn!) Neptunbrunnen finished 1888 look downright “verkitscht”.

    • notmsparker
      Apr 23, 2018

      Agreed on Begas. Btw, the paddle steamer is held by the genius of the Oder River while the statue symbolising the Vistula (the largest Polish river called Wisła, which our German “visitors” re-named the Weichsel) holds the front gate of an incredible piece of railway engineering, the Vistula Bridge in Tczew (Ger. name Weichsel- or Dirschauer Brücke). The Elbe, the third female in the group has an oar in her hands – this one is the Elbe River. The only male int he club is, obviously, the Rhein (Father Rhein).

      • Babewyn
        Apr 23, 2018

        I often wonder what Europe would look (or feel like) today if the “nation state” narrative that sweeps across the region after the French Revolution(s) had not been a part of the thinking of the time. The early movements for political change in the region we live in today (what ever we want to call it) was far more interested in forms of political representation than it was in the (relatively arbitrary) ethnic divisions that become a dominant theme of the mid- to late-19th century. Speakers of Polish struggled along side speakers of German for a constitutional form of government in our region.
        What would Europe be like if the region had “grown together” the way the Empire of the Middle did with a strong cultural and political dominance of one or two major groups but without a clear sense of “nation”. People in China feel “Chinese” whose languages and cultures have less to do with Han than Spanish has to do with Finnish, and yet they are “Chinese”.
        If it had happened that way who would the “Han” of Europe have been? Speakers of English, of French, of German, of Russian or someone all together different?
        My Czech ex spoke of Bratislava as Pressburg more often than not, and i do not think it was an attempt to annoy his Slovakian ex-wife, as he did it when she wasn’t around as well. The fact that that was the Austrian word for the place didn’t seem to play a role for him. That was the name of the place.
        If history had developed that way, would this part of the world have been more peace full or less so?

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