Chapel of Reconciliation

SUSTAINABILITY Unites

Images are author's unless otherwise noted

Much of the information given here comes from a city tour by StattReisen

Chapel of Reconciliation in 1894

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On the edge of the former Berlin Wall, one small church better tells the story of a divided Berlin and its united future than perhaps any museum could. To describe the Chapel of Reconciliation, we must start by discussing the church that stood there before it, also named the Chapel of Reconciliation. The original church was constructed in 1894, a Protestant church built in the Neo-Gothic style.

The Church was destroyed in 1985 by the East German government. You can see the Berlin Wall running right in front of the church.

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As the Berlin Wall rose, the future of the church, which sits in former East Germany, became uncertain. Indeed with the wall running right in front of the church's entrance, many of the church's congregation could no longer access it. In 1985, the East German government decided to destroy the church in order to increase border security, especially tragic since the wall would come down just five years later. Even with a unified country and city though, the congregation, which had separated during the Cold War, remained split in two. In part to reunite the divided congregation and more generally the two cities, and in part to commemorate the history of the church, a new chapel was constructed. It was completed in 2000. 

Parts that used to make up the church bell were reused in the new bell which sits outside the chapel. The church's original cross lays just a few steps away. But what is really incredible about the chapel is its construction style. A model of the rammed earth style, the building was built from earth materials found in the area, namely clay. The outer wall is made from wood and some of the stone and glass debris from the original chapel were used to form other parts of the church. Ultimately the building's use of much more sustainable resources makes it a space of sustainability. 

Left: The new church bell (left) now sits outside the church (right) and was constructed from parts of the old church combined with the new church's architectural style

Right: The old church cross now sits outside the chapel

Importantly, given that the Chapel still holds services, the building invites individuals to come together under its sustainable roof. Its unique architectural style is impossible to miss. By stringing together elements of the past with an ode to the future, the chapel aims to unite a congregation and a city behind an ideal of sustainability as preserving our history and helping move it forwards.