Located in the Mitte district, The Rotes Rathaus, translating to mean red town hall, derives its name purely from the colour of the bricks with no political connotations. Today the town hall stands as the fifth design built on the site of which it lies, the first being erected in the 13th century but swiftly rebuilt due small size and the fast growing metropolis. Re-designed by Herman Friedrich Wӓsemann in the late 1850’s, the building is not what is considered typical of the Renaissance style that is seen commonly throughout Berlin’s architecture. The architect patterned the building famously from the bell tower of the Cathedral of the French city Laon and upon the city hall in Torun, Poland. The Red exterior is decorated with terracotta panels that depict scenes from the history of Berlin. Renaissance style buildings such as the Reichstag are typically Grecian style with their enormous pillars and white washed exterior, thus allowing the Rathaus to stand out from the seemingly uniform parliament buildings of Berlin. The site of which the Rathaus lie represents the ever changing nature of Berlin, even until 2010, the building was still being modified and brought into the 21st century.
Like much of Berlin, Rotes Rathaus was heavily damaged through the Second World War, to the relief of many Berliners this damaged destroyed the previous buildings previous conversion from 1936 under the Nazi Rule due to the summer Olympics that took place in the same year. After the war, in 1951the reconstruction began, only to house the government of East Berlin, during the cold war. After the collapse of the wall, Rotes Rathaus became the official home to the governing mayor (Klaus Wowereit) and the Senate of Berlin.
Located directly outside the Hall, is the beautiful Neptune Fountain, known as the Neptunbrunnen.. This neo-baroque fountain, decorated with the statues of Neptune and four women surrounding was created by Reinhold Begas between 1889 and 1891. The fountain originally was installed in Schlossplatz in front of the former Stadtschloss (Berlin Castle) but was moved in 1969 as directed by the East Berlin Government to its current position. At the centre of the fountain is the statue of Neptune, who overlooks the large basin that is adorned with four figures symbolising Prussia’s most significant rivers: The Rhine, The Elbe, The Oder and The Vistula (Weichsel).
Rotes Rathaus represents the many changing faces of Berlin; it still stands tall through the scandalous past that the city obtains. Rathaus, different to the somewhat identical parliament building situated in Berlin also symbolizes the diverse nature of the city, the creative flare that so famously makes Berlin so popular. With its ever changing face and its brightly coloured exterior in contrast to the white washed, Grecian styled parliament buildings and landmark that Berlin holds; Rotes Rathaus is the ultimate symbol of division in Berlin.