Although the sun was really trying hard today, the grey clouds still filled the sky. We had to move on, leaving the Berliner Dom behind us, we crossed the road and ended up on a square. With St Mary’s Church (Marienkirche) on one side, which was first established in the late 13th century. And the Rotes Rathaus, Berlin’s Town Hall, on the other side (built between 1861 and 1869). And right in the middle…. Neptune Fountain. At first sight this baroque fountain in bronze and granite, seemed to be a little bit out of place here, not quite fitting the scenery. But to me that made it even more interesting to take a closer look.
The Neptune fountain was commissioned by Kaiser Wilhelm II and made by Reinhold Begas in 1891. Begas, son of the historical painter Karl Begas, dominated the plastic art in Prussia, especially in Berlin after 1870. And the Neptune Fountain is one of his major works during this period.
I soon found out that this wasn’t the original place where the fountain was erected. Its original place was on the south side of the Berlin City Palace (Berliner Stadtschloss), the former Royal Palace. The fountain was severely damaged during the war and had to be restored. After the restoration, which was finished in 1969, it was placed at its current location… Right in the middle of the fountain you will see Neptune with a trident in his hand, based in a huge shell and surrounded by Putti. These are little angelic figures that are mainly chubby males, usually nude and they sometimes have wings. (Most people will know them from todays pop culture and TV series Doctor Who, where the infants of The Weeping Angels appear as putti.)
The fountain has a wealth of detail with various creatures adorning its base, like a snake, turtle, seal and alligator spraying water… You will see fish and ocean nymphs… And of course the four women figures on the edge of the fountain won’t go unnoticed. These four women pouring water into the fountain represent the four main rivers of Prussia: the Oder, the Rhine, the Vistula and the Elbe… A wonderful piece of art that, for me, was definitely worth the visit.
And then the clouds became really really dark grey and it started to rain. Can’t always have beautiful weather while travelling. 😉 Time to find a dry spot for a lunch before heading to another part of Berlin: East Side Gallery…. See you there!