Cultured Wednesday: Karl Friedrich Schinkel

Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s most famous extant buildings are found in and around Berlin.

If you have ever visited or seen pictures of Berlin, Germany, you most likely have seen a building drafted, re-designed or approved by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Prussian city planner, architect and painter. Born on 13 March 1781 in Neuruppin, Schinkel was one of the most prominent neoclassical and neogothic architects of 19th century Germany and despite his influence and achievements, people still think he had even more potential that he could not live up to due to the political circumstances of his time.

Medieval City on a River, 1815

Schinkels most famous extant buildings in and around the German capital include the Neue Wache (1816–1818), the National Monument for the Liberation Wars (1818–1821), the Schauspielhaus (1819–1821) at the Gendarmenmarkt and the Altes Museum on Museum Island (1823–1830). He also carried out improvements to the Crown Prince’s Palace and to Schloss Charlottenburg.

The header to this post shows Schinkel’s stage set for the 1st Act of Mozart’s Magic Flute, dated 1815 just like the above painting, a design that is still quoted by modern-day stage designers when planning the set for this opera. We find his style quite wholesome, a good example of a time when people still had a clear idea of what was good and beautiful, and pleasing in an aesthetic sense, as well as where such ideas originated in the first place.

Castle by the River 1820

Schinkel, like so many artists of the 19th century, traveled a lot in Europe and particularly to Italy, the landscape and cities of which were and still are especially inspiring, it seems – just look at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his love for Italy, for instance. Of course, Goethe and Schinkel met and respected each other, in fact, the list of names the family Schinkel were acquainted with reads almost like a who-is-who of Germany’s 19th century artistic and royal circles. But returning to the Italian influences, Schinkel’s style, generally speaking, was defined rather by a turn to Greek than Roman architecture. “He believed”, they claim in his Wikipedia entry, “that in order to avoid sterility and have a soul, a building must contain elements of the poetic and the past, and have a discourse with them.” I guess the same kind of discourse between tradition and poetry can be found in his paintings if you are able to discern Nature’s voice in the lay of the land, or the trees that surround Schinkel’s painted buildings.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel died on 9 October 1841 in Berlin, leaving behind his wife Susanne and four children, three girls and a boy, the youngest daughter being 19 years old at the time. He was buried in the Dorotheenstädtischen Friedhof in Berlin-Center, where twenty years later his wife was laid to rest along with their two older daughters.

The Schinkel grave in Berlin

Eventually, several generations of architects from Berlin who were influenced by Schinkel’s style were classified as the “Schinkelschule“. So, if you ever visit Germany’s capital, keep a look out for building designed or re-designed by Schinkel, or later on built true to Schinkel’s style.

Herbal Household Remedies: Kneipp 1.01

Humans should live in accord with nature.

There is a lot to say for and about the Bavarian priest Sebastian Kneipp (1821 – 1897), his water therapy and his five pillars of health.  If you have not heard of him yet, have a look at his Wikipedia entry just for a general introduction.  Growing up hiking in the German hill country and mountains, coming upon a Kneipp-inspired wading-pool was so common that I knew his name and what to associate with him long before I even knew that Kneipp was a name to begin with.  Kneipp was just a synonym for very refreshing breaks on hot summer days:  To do a Kneipp exercise, all you had to do was take off your hiking boots and socks, roll up your pant legs, step into a pool of sorts and walk around in cold, knee-deep water a bit.  Wonderful!

But since it is not the kind of weather outside at the moment to fill the wash tub and wade around in it (unless you live a good bit further south than we do), I would like to share a rule I learned from Pfarrer Kneipp much later, although I have been following it unknowingly for most of my life:

Cold for the outside
Warm for the inside

Cold for the outside: The idea is that when you shower or wash, it is more beneficial to your health to shower cool rather than hot, and to finish every shower with a cold splash, so to speak: Stick your legs under the cold shower, left foot first and then up, then your arms, left hand first and then up, then your front, then your back, lastly your face, all just for a moment.  If you try it, you’ll find how much nicer it is to step out of the shower and not shiver in the cold air because the air won’t actually feel cold.  The same counts for washing your face and hands: Use cold water.  To clean your hands (so very important at this time of year), it is more efficient to wash with cold water and rub your hands real good than to use warm water.

Warm for the inside: No beverage you drink should be colder than room-temperature.  It is a shock to your system to drink very cold beverages, causing stress and supporting inflammation.

By and large, this little rule is just one expression of Kneipp’s general belief that humans should live in accord with nature.  I quite agree.  Living the way we were designed to live makes it easy to stay happy and healthy.  Give it a try.

cup of tea

The featured image shows a drawing of Pfarrer Kneipp giving a lecture in Bad Wörishofen in 1895.


Disclaimer: The author is not an medical professional, nutritionist, or dietitian. Content on this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for legal or medical advice, or medical treatment or diagnosis. Consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any symptoms and before using any herbal product or beginning a new health regimen. When wildcrafting or foraging for plants, do so ethically; be accompanied by an expert; and always have absolute certainty of plant identification before using or consuming any herbs. By using any or all of this information, you do so at your own risk. Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and is his or her sole responsibility.

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