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Berlin, Germany

Hohenzollern Crypt in the Berlin Cathedral

Beneath the impressive baroque cathedral that rises from the center of Berlin lies the largest collection of Prussian royals in the world.  

The Hohenzollern crypt beneath the Berlin Cathedral is the most important dynastic crypt in Germany, and one of a handful of major dynastic crypts in Europe. Ninety-four sarcophagi and burial monuments range from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th, spanning four centuries of Brandenburg-Prussian burial culture.

The Hohenzollern dynasty has its roots in the Holy Roman Empire; the house ruled the Duchy of Prussia as well as served as the Electors of Brandenburg. They parlayed this power into creating the Kingdom of Prussia and, subsequently, the German Empire. They ruled the Empire as Kaisers, benefiting from the realpolitik genius of Otto von Bismarck before destroying themselves and most of Europe in the bloody nightmare that was World War I.

The current Berlin Cathedral was built in 1905, destroyed during World War II, left in ruin till 1975, and finally restored and reopened in 1999. However, the small but significant funerary complex it sits on top of dates back to the late 16th century, and its restoration is still ongoing.

The historic crypt includes a wide variety of artistic styles. From simple to very ornate, some of these final resting places are in better shape than others. Among the most notable sarcophagi are those of Frederick I and Sophie Charlotte, the first King and Queen of Prussia and the grandparents of Frederick the Great. The cathedral’s dome was bombed during World War II, and the resulting collapse and fire damaged and destroyed some of the crypt. An extra charge to tour the crypt goes towards the ongoing restoration and care for this collection.

Know Before You Go

U-Bahn: U2, U5, U8, Station: U-Bhf Alexanderplatz
S-Bahn: S5, S7, S9, S75, Station: S-Bhf Hackescher Markt
Tram: M4, M5, M6, Tram stop: Spandauer Straße
Bus: 100, 200, Bus stop: Am Lustgarten