Thanks to a combination of being raised in a Catholic family and doing a lot of traveling, I have been inside a pretty large number of churches. Only counting ones my hometown and my college town puts me over a dozen. I’ve also been to services at a few churches in New York City, two in Florida, one each in Ireland and England, and then there are all the churches I have visited without attending a service. I have seen some amazing churches from Ireland to Austria to France, but one of my favorites lies in Berlin, Germany. Unfortunately, a camera/computer connection problem meant that most of my photos from the afternoon I spent there were lost forever, so I’d like to share what I do have and invite you to imagine the beauty of the rest (or, simply Google it, if you are interested!).
My weekend in Berlin wasn’t planned down to the minute as many of my trips are. In fact, my friend and I chose it purely based on flight prices and timetables as we were looking for an efficient stopover on our way from Dublin to Cairo. Berlin made the most sense within these parameters, so it was kind of like, okay, well, I guess we’ll go to Berlin! We had a vague idea of things we wanted to see, and I knew in the back of my head there was a big cathedral somewhere. Well, as we explored Museum Island in the scorching afternoon heat, we stumbled upon the beautiful Berliner Dom. From the outside it is simply striking- the intricate architecture, the perfect green domes, the sparkling cross that touches the sky…
Many sources say that while a church has been on this site for a long while, the structure you see now was only completed in 1905 and, after extensive damage during World War II, was restored between the 1980s and 1990s. For some this might make it less impressive, especially when you put it up against cathedrals that have been standing for centuries. But age is too often used as a rubric to grade a building’s grandeur. New ones, old ones, Victorian ones, millennial ones, baroque ones… all styles and ages have the potential for beauty in my eyes, and this building certainly made the cut.
Inside, the main altar supposedly dates from the mid-1800s. Again, beautiful at any age. Gorgeous colors, beautiful mosaics, stunning statues, and peaceful vibes cover the interior of the church. An ornate staircase hides off to the side, drawing some attention away from the main attraction. The dome is so impressive, and it makes the inside of the church seem even bigger than it is. The room is gilded with gleaming gold and swirling marble, and the artwork is so beautiful you will need a few moments to take it all in. We found an empty pew and I said a quick prayer before getting comfortable in the cool, quiet atmosphere. Suddenly, the organ music began, and it filled the space in such a beautiful and moving way. We listened for nearly five minutes before setting off to explore the rest of the building.
We went both above and below the church, to see the city views from up high and the resting places in the crypt down below. The stairway to the gallery was pleasant and not nearly as long, crowded, dank, or narrow as many others I had climbed, and the city views were more than pleasant. The crypt was very interesting as well, and a blessedly cool escape from the June warmth.
Because of that technical glitch, I lost my video recording of the organ music inside the church along with all of my photos of the crypt and many others of the outside and inside just days after I had taken them. It saddens me that I don’t have these reminders, but in my head I can still picture the whole thing. I’m grateful for the few photos I did manage to save (every single one of which is included in this post!) and I certainly hope I will be able to visit the beautiful church again sometime in the future.