Berlin, a rich, vibrant city with so much history you would not have time left in your life to learn all Berlin has experienced in its lifespan.
Not surprisingly, it has so many ghost stories... it was hard to choose which story to tell.
The Citadel, a respected (albeit imposing) building, just on the skirts
(outside edge.. ish) of Berlin.
What a building, what history, what a ghost story!
The Spandau Citadel (German: Zitadelle Spandau) is a fortress in Berlin, Germany, one of the best-preserved Renaissance military structures of Europe.
Italian architect Francesco Chiaramella de Gandino started to plan the citadel in 1557 and was replaced by his compatriot Rochus Graf zu Lynar one year later.
The fortress was completed in the year 1594, though it would go on to serve a military role for the next 360-odd years.
In 1580, the first troops were assigned to Spandau Citadel, although its construction was not complete until 1594. Swedish troops were the first to besiege the citadel in 1675. In 1806 the citadel's garrison surrendered to the French army under Napoleon without firing a shot.
During the Thirty Years War, it served as a base of operations for Swedish forces during King Gustav II Adolf’s intervention. The citadel would first fall to enemy troops in 1806 when it was taken over by Napoleon’s armies. During the French siege, much of the citadel was destroyed, It was retaken by Prussian and Russian forces in 1813, this is when the fortress was rebuilt, and served as a prison for Prussian dissidents, as well as a treasury, most notably being used to store war reparations after the Franco-Prussian war.
From 1874 to 1919 the “Reichskriegsschatz” (Imperial War Treasure) was stored in the Julius Tower. (more about Julius tower below, click here to go see)
In 1935, the Army's Gas Protection Laboratory was installed. The site employed about 300 scientist and technicians doing research on chemical weapons (including synthesis, animal and human testing, munitions development, and development of manufacturing processes). Much of the work developing nerve gas was done here.
Close to the end of the Second World War, during the battle in Berlin, the citadel became a part of the city's defences. Although several hundred years old, the Citadel's tracé à l'italienne design made the structure difficult to storm.
So the end of its military career came in 1945 when it was stationed by Nazi soldiers during the Battle of Berlin. When it had become clear that they had lost, instead of bombarding and storming the Citadel, the Soviets invested it and set about negotiating it's surrender. After negotiations, the citadel's commander surrendered to the Lieutenant-General Perkhorovitch's 47th Army just after 15:00 on 1 May 1945, saving many lives and leaving the Renaissance bastion fort intact. The Germans surrendered the citadel to Soviet soldiers, who were the last military personnel to occupy it. With the division of Berlin into four occupation zones, Spandau was handed over to the British, and the citadel handed over to civilian use.
After the division of Berlin by the Allied powers, Spandau and its Citadel were part of the British sector. Despite its history as a prison, the Citadel was not used to hold National Socialist war criminals. Rather, they were housed at Spandau prison in the same Berlin borough.
Beginning in 1950, the Spandau Citadel was the site of a building school, For more than three decades a college for trainee builders was housed in parts of the complex.
in 1986, became a tourist attraction and cultural site. Now, the only cannons that one would hear from the citadel would be during a performance of The 1812 Overture during one of the many concerts that take place there. However, it may be possible to see old cannons along with other archeological finds, historical pieces, and works of art in the various museums and exhibitions that are located in the citadel.
The oldest building in Berlin
If you reach the top level of the Julius Tower (just 153 steps!), you will be rewarded with a magnificent view. From the top, the view of the fortress complex and the river Havel takes the breath away. In good weather you can see as far as the Berlin TV Tower.
The Julius Tower was built at the beginning of the 13th century. Its main purpose was to defend the castle which the Margraves of Brandenburg built on the site. When the Citadel was built in the 16th century it was decided to retain the Julius Tower and the Palas as parts of the old castle and to integrate them into the new fortress.
The treasury door which visitors pass through to enter the tower is a reminder that the “Reichskriegsschatz” (Imperial War Treasure) was stored behind the 3.6-metre thick walls after the Franco-German War of 1870-71.
You can climb the tower during the Citadel opening times (daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), as part of your entry ticket, on 365 days of the year – except if there is black ice or storm!
The Citadel is said to be haunted by 'The white Lady'
Yes we know.. there are a lot of white ladies around the world, this lady has, like most, a tragic love story to tell.
Her name was Anna Sydow, she was the concubine of the Elector Joachim II. For 20 years she was allowed to live with him in the hunting lodge Grunewald. When his lover died in 1571, his son was doomed to her: he threw her in the dungeon. That's what her mind haunts in the stair tower.
Anna was the daughter of Andreas Sydow and Gertraud Schneidewind. King of Brandenburg, Joachim II took her as his lover despite being married to Magdalena of Saxony and Hedwig Jagiellon.
Joachim and Anna lived happily in the Grunewald, just outside Berlin. Then, she bore him two children. Their son died at nine years old while their daughter was called Magdalene of Brandenburg, Countess of Arneburg.
However, when the prince died in 1571 at the age of 66, Johann Georg had Anna Sydow arrested and imprisoned in the July tower of the Spandau citadel. Her daughter Magdalene was denied the title of nobility, after all, she was married to a princely financial officer and allowed her a bourgeois existence.
Anna remained prisoner until her death.
To this day, Anna still wanders the galleries of Spandau Citadel. Visitors and staff reported the sightings of a white lady roaming the halls of the fortress. One visitor claimed to see a floating apparition in one of the rooms of the building. Another visitor shared seeing a lady as if she was lost in the halls.
During the restoration of Spandau Citadel, workers discovered bones believed to be of Anna. They gave her a proper burial hoping to rest her spirits. However, Anna continues haunting the Spandau Citadel.
The video below is well worth a watch, you really get to see the Citadel within it.
This map is interactive, Scroll, play, check out street view.