Schloss Bellevue

Schloss Bellevue is the official residence of the President of Germany since 1994. The palace in the central Tiergarten district of Berlin is situated on the northern edge of the Großer Tiergarten park, on the banks of the Spree river, near the Berlin Victory Column. Its name ("beautiful view" in French) derives from the scenic prospect over the river course.


Schloss Bellevue was erected in 1786 as a summer residence for Prince Augustus Ferdinand of Prussia, the younger brother of King Frederick II, according to plans by architect Michael Philipp Boumann on the site of a manor built in 1743 by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. It then was the first Neoclassical building in Germany, characterized by its Corinthian pilasters, with wings on either side ("Ladies' wing" and "Spree wing"). The upper floor features a ball room designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans. The palace is surrounded by a park covering about 20 hectares. In 1843 Bellevue was acquired by King Frederick William IV of Prussia and in 1865 became the residence of his niece Princess Alexandrine after her marriage with William of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. It served the royal and imperial princes of the Hohenzollern dynasty until the German Revolution of 1918.

A property of the Free State of Prussia since 1928, the building in the mid-1930s was used as a museum of ethnography, before being renovated as a guest house for the Nazi government in 1938. During World War II it was severely damaged by strategic bombing and the 1945 Battle of Berlin, whereafter it was refurbished substantially in the 1950s. Inaugurated by President Theodor Heuss in 1959, it served as the secondary residence of the West German president, a pied à terre in West Berlin to supplement his primary residence at the Hammerschmidt Villa in Bonn. The palace was refurbished again in 1986-87, and after German reunification President Richard von Weizsäcker moved his primary residence to it in 1994. A modern annex was erected at the southern wing in 1998 to host the offices of the affiliated Bundespräsidialamt federal agency.

President Roman Herzog remained the only office holder, who actually lived at Bellevue during his incumbency 1994-1999. The palace was reconstructed again in 2004-05 to remedy defects in earlier renovations. President Horst Köhler used nearby Charlottenburg Palace for representative purposes during this period. Bellevue became the president's primary official seat again in January 2006, but since this reconstruction has not included living quarters. The Federal President lives in a government-owned villa in the suburban Dahlem district of southwestern Berlin.


Contrary to popular belief, the presidential standard is flown on top of the palace even on many days when the President is not in Berlin. It is lowered only when the President takes up official residence elsewhere - e.g. on the occasion of a state visit, when the standard is raised over his temporary residence abroad, or when he uses his second residence at Villa Hammerschmidt. If he is just on vacation, Schloss Bellevue remains his official residence and the standard is flown over it.

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