A Prussian House: the Prinzessinnenpalais and the Hohenzollern
© bpk/Stiftung Preussische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg/ Roland Handrick
© bpk/ Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, SMB/ Jörg P. Anders
© bpk/ Kupferstichkabinett, SMB/ Volker-H. Schneider
© bpk/ Nationalgalerie/ SMB/ Jürgen Liepe
After the daughter moved out, the palace became the residence of Auguste von Harrach, named Princess von Liegnitz (1800–1873), whom Frederick William III had secretly wedded in 1824, thirteen years after Luise’s death. The king had met the young countess in 1822 while he was undergoing a course of treatment in Bad Teplice in Bohemia. The relationship was difficult for the 54-year-old, because the princess was not from a ruling family, was 30 years younger, and was Catholic to boot. After the king’s death she continued to live in the Prinzessinnenpalais.
Turbulent Times: The Prinzessinnenpalais after World War II
On December 25, 1963, the Opera Café celebrated its opening. Shortly thereafter, the formerly private Prinzessinnengarten (Princesses’ Garden), almost completely destroyed in World War II, was rebuilt as a public park. Here, statues of generals that had previously been exhibited on Unter den Linden found a new home. The Prinzessinnenpalais with the Opera Café, opera bar, wine bar, and grill restaurant quickly became a popular meeting place for Berliners and tourists alike. In addition, the Opera Café was used as a shooting location for one of the most successful DEFA productions, “The Legend of Paul und Paula.” Paul and Paula, the protagonists of the 1973 cult film, dance in the café. And the Opera Café also hosted weekly disco evenings for the East German gay scene.
After German reunification, ownership of the palace was passed on to the Treuhand (“Trust”). Subsequently, the café reopened under the name Opernpalais. For the new café, the ambience was radically transformed: Richard Paulick’s modern design gave way to rococo-style furnishings. Boasting Europe’s largest selection of cakes and pies, the building again became a visitor magnet, attracting many prominent individuals, including Queen Silvia of Sweden, the actors Alain Delon and Sophia Loren, and star tenor Placido Domingo. The café closed when the building had to be thoroughly refurbished in 2012.
Deutsche bank leased the building starting in 2017 and had the interior completely refurbished by the renowned Berlin architectural office Kuehn Malvezzi as a new platform for art, culture, and sports. On three floors, large spaces were created for exhibitions, events, and educational offers. The ground floor again houses a café with a garden terrace that picks up on the building’s tradition. In the fall of 2018, the former Prinzessinnenpalais will open as the PalaisPopulaire.