A Timeline of Berlin-Brandenburg - 1700's AD
>> 1200s1300s1400s1500s1600s1700s1800s1900s2000 ++

1701 January 18 In Königsberg, the elector Friedrich III arranges to have himself crowned Friedrich I, King of Prussia. The city of Berlin becomes the royal residence.

1709 King Friedrich I decrees the unification of the five towns of Berlin, Cölln, Friedrichswerder, Dorotheenstadt, and Friedrichstadt to form the capital and royal residence of Berlin. The unified city has a population of 55,000.

1712 January 24 Friedrich the Great of Prussia is born in Berlin. After his accession to the throne in 1740, he will also be known as Frederick II, Friedrich II and Friedrich der Grosse.

The future Hohenzollern King of Prussia spent his youth under a harsh and pious father, for whom Friedrich learned to hide his hatred, and trained for a military career until he saw a chance to escape to England. His father caught him, forced him to watch an accomplice executed, and in 1733 compelled him to marry Elizabeth Christine, daughter of Ferdinand Albert II of Brunswick.

1713 King Friedrich I (1657-1713), king since 1701, and elector from 1688-1701 as Friedrich III, dies, and is succeeded by Friedrich Wilhelm I, “the Soldier King“ (1688-1740), king from 1713 to 1740.

1717 Compulsory school attendance is introduced in Berlin, although it takes several decades for it to become established.

1721 The first coffee shop opens in Berlin, Germany. The first coffee shop in Italy had opened in 1645, the first in England in 1652, and the first in Paris in 1672. In the coming years, several European rulers, and even ordinary citizens, tried to establish bans on coffee houses, anxious to put an end to the political discussions that went on in them.

1726 A cabinet decree of Friedrich I converts a “plague house” built in 1709 at the lower end of the Spree river into the Charité. Today the Charité is Berlin’s oldest hospital and, at the same time, Germany’s oldest medical school.

1732-1739 More than 1,200 Bohemians settle in Berlin to escape religious persecution. In 1737 they found Böhmisch-Rixdorf (now Neukölln).

1733 Military conscription is introduced in Prussia by Friedrich Wilhelm I, “the Soldier King“ (1688-1740).

1734-1737 The city fortifications of Berlin erected from 1658 to 1683 are torn down and replaced by a 14.5 km customs (excise) wall. It contains an area covering 1,330 hectares with a population of 80,000. This area remains almost unchanged until 1841.

1740 Friedrich Wilhelm I, “the Soldier King“ (1688-1740), king from 1713 to 1740, dies, and is succeeded by Friedrich II, “the Great” (1712-1786), king from 1740 to 1786.

1740 Starting in 1740, Berlin develops into a center of the Enlightenment and of constant construction under Friedrich the Great. The large representative buildings put up in this era still dominate the cityscape around Unter den Linden: the Staatsoper opera house (1742), the Prince Heinrich Palace (Prinz-Heinrich-Palais, 1756, now Humboldt University), St. Hedwig’s Cathedral (1773), and the Old Library (Alte Bibliothek, 1780).

1749 At the personal invitation of Friedrich the Great, King of Prussia, Voltaire moves to Potsdam, near Berlin.

1760 October 9 During the Seven Years War (1756-1763), Berlin is briefly occupied by Russian and Austrian troops who retreat after receiving news of Friedrich the Great's approach with a Prussian relief army. Königsberg was also occupied for a short time.

1763 Friedrich II purchases the porcelain factory started by the merchant Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky in 1761 on Leipziger Strasse and founds the Königliche Porzellanmanufaktur (royal porcelain factory – KPM). The wool manufacturer Wilhelm Caspar Wegely had opened Berlin’s first porcelain factory in 1751 on Neue Friedrichstrasse.

1764 The first German-language theater opens in Berlin on Behrenstrasse. Plays had been performed only in foreign languages, usually French, before that. The first recorded theater performance in Berlin took place at the palace in Cölln in 1541.

1770 The bridle path from the City Palace to Tiergarten that was laid out in 1647 is expanded into a magnificent avenue (Unter den Linden).

1786 August 17 Friedrich II, “the Great” (1712-1786), king from 1740 to 1786, dies, and is succeeded as King of Prussia by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II, “fat William” (1744-1797), king from 1786 to 1797. Friedrich the Great died as he had lived, a pragmatic and humanistic atheist. It was he who had said, "There are so many things to be said against religion that I wonder they do not occur to everyone."

1788 Architect Carl Gotthard Langhans is appointed as Director of the re-established Court Planning and Building Department in Berlin. After designing late-baroque buildings in his home province of Silesia, Langhans became one of the earliest representatives of the new Greek-inspired classicism in Germany. His extensive journeys through Italy, France, England and the Netherlands encourages this change of style through Europe. Some of his finest buildings in Berlin are:

  • 1788 Belvedere Charlottenburg, merging baroque with neo-classicist elements
  • 1788-91 Palace Theatre Charlottenburg. The theatre was connected from inside with the western end of the Orangery; its facade design also follows Eosander's building
  • 1788-91 Construction of Brandenburg gate in Berlin, which was based on the * Propylon in Athens at King Friedrich Wilhelm II's request
  • 1795 Schauspielhaus (theatre) Potsdam (damaged 1945)
  • 1800-02 Old Schauspielhaus (theatre) Berlin (burned 1817)
  • 1791 The Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), under construction by Carl Gotthard Langhans since 1788, is officially opened. It was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm II as a sign of peace and crowned with Johann Gottfried Schadow’s Quadriga in 1793.

Located on the Pariser Platz, Brandenburg Gate is the only remaining one of the series of gates through which one entered Berlin. It constitutes the monumental termination of Unter den Linden, the renowned boulevard of linden trees which led directly to the royal residence. While the main design of the Brandenburg Gate has remained the same since it was completed, the gate has played varying roles in Germany's history.

1792 The road from Berlin to Potsdam is opened as Prussia’s first paved highway.

1795 Berlin gets its first steam engine. The cotton manufacturer Johann Georg Sieburg uses the engine, which came from England, to power spinning machines.

1797 Friedrich Wilhelm II, “fat William” (1744-1797), king from 1786 to 1797, dies, and is succeeded by Friedrich Wilhelm III (1770-1840), king from 1797 to 1840.

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