Known by Berliners as ‘Alte Fritz’ (Old Fred), this statue of Frederick the Great atop his favorite horse is one of the most impressive sights at the historic Unter den Linden boulevard.
Frederick the Great
Berlin used to boast quite a few impressive equestrian statues. Unfortunately only a couple of these survived the Second World War. The statue of Frederick the Great is the grandest among those.
Frederick the Great
Frederick II reigned as king of Prussia from 1740 until 1786. He successfully attacked Austria and conquered Polish and Silesian territories. His successful military endeavors turned Prussia into a world power and earned the king the title ‘Frederick the Great’. Locals dubbed him ‘Alte Fritz’.
Design and construction
It took nearly seventy years, forty artists, and one hundred designs to determine the final plan for the equestrian statue of the much-revered Frederick the Great. Finally, construction of the statue began in 1839 under the watchful eye of its creator, Christian Daniel Rauch.
Rauch had devised his design nearly ten years before construction actually began, and by the time it was completed in 1851, the artist had spent nearly twenty years of his life working on this single project.
The 13.5 meter high (44ft) monument sits on the Unter den Linden boulevard between the Altes Palais and Humboldt University. After the Second World War it spent several years in Potsdam at the Sanssouci Palace before being returned to Berlin in 1981 where it was eventually reinstalled at its original site on Unter den Linden.
The bronze monument is wonderfully ornate and a treat for the eye. Frederick sits atop Conde, his favorite horse, dressed in his formal uniform – coronation robes, tri-cornered hat, and top boots. He carries a long stick.
The pedestal is three-tiered. The lower part includes four tablets emblazoned with the names of sixty men proclaimed to be leading figures in Germany at the time of construction. Just above the tablets are life-sized statues of four cavalry commanders, stationed at each corner. They are Prince Henry of Prussia, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick and Generals Friedrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz and Hans Joachim von Zieten.
On the same level are twenty-one statues that depict the most outstanding generals of Frederick’s army as well as additional statues of other leading figures in politics, art, and science. Closer to Frederick’s feet are a four bas-reliefs of scenes from Frederick’s life and other figures, such as female allegories representing the virtues of a ruler.