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Schloss Bellevue

Official residence of the German President on the edge of Berlin's Tiergarten.

A heart for historical sights

Immediately outside Bellevue Palace is an old red fire alarm station, a well-preserved artifact of a time without mobile phones. A retired painter has taken the project to maintain this fire alarm system. Eleven old fashioned fire alarms can still be found in Berlin. The Bellevue Palace is surrounded by the Mexikoplatz in Schöneberg and the palace park Charlottenburg. These and the old fashion fire alarm add charm to Bellevue Palace.

The costly restoration of a single fire alarm unit tooks Dieter Binger twelve to fifteen hours. His passion for these old fire alarms started in his early childhood. He always wanted to become a fireman when he grows up, but this dream was crashed when he failed the fireman practice test and he was denied the opportunity to be a fireman due to lack of suitability. For his engagement to preserve a piece of history he received great honor from the Berlin Fire Department, who awarded him the title "Angel of Great City". Although Dieter Binger has never been part of the rescue team, he could not believe his luck, when the Berlin Fire Department gave him his own fire helmet, which has his name on it.

Find out more:  The retired paiter Dieter Binger takes care of historical fire alarms

Today, the Bellevue Palace is a popular tourist destination. The former residence of the Hohenzollern can generally only be admired from outside. The building and the surrounding garden are for safety reasons only open to the public prior appointment or on the day of the Open House. If you would like to have a virtually tour of the residence of the German Federal President, we recommend online interactive 3D tour.

Discover Berlin on foot:  our walking tour tips on various topics

History: royal residence

The history of the Bellevue Palace begins in 1784. Prince Augustus Ferdinand of Prussia (* 1730) asked the architect Boumann to build and transform the existing Bellevue Palace to living quarters. The neoclassical building served the Prussian Prince as a Royal Manor. There he held receptions for many personalities such as Napoleon, Friedrich Schiller and Alexander von Humboldt. After his death the Berlin Palace went into the hand of his son Prince August and he passed it onto Friedrich Wilhelm IV in 1843. He decided to open the center part of the house as an art museum. This exhibition can be seen as a precursor to the National Gallery on Berlin's Museum Island which opened 30 years later on.

After the death of Friedrich Wilhelm IV the palace was looked after and maintained by the staff from the manor house.  Occasionally it was used by the imperial family as a residential palace. But gradually the staff left the palace. Pieces of art and interior were transferred to the imperial family in the Netherlands. In 1918, the Austrian film director Max Reinhardt sat up in the former gardener's house of the palace an extensive annual art exhibitions. The state took over the palace in 1928 when he emigrated. In 1935 the State Museum of Ethnology was established on these premises.

The castle Bellevue since 1935

During Hitler's dictatorship the Bellevue Palace was used to accommodate high official guests of the German Empire. Paul Baumgarten, an architect, was hired to extend the main house as well as the south wing. But the war did not go past the palace without leaving its trace. In 1941 the newly built wings and a large part of the main house were destroyed.
After the war the Government of the Federal Republic started in 1954 to rebuild and restore the original facade from 1784. When finally the interior of the building was finished in 1959, the Bellevue Palace became the second official residence of the German Federal President. Over the following years many renovations took place, including the design of the interiors to match the neoclassical facade. After the reunification Berlin became the capital of Germany again. This was the perfect opportunity to make the Bellevue Palace the main official residence of the president.

Good to know:
The name Bellevue, in English "Beautiful View", makes its name justice when you admire the views from the palace towards the surrounding parks.

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