The Spandau Citadel is situated in the northwest area of Berlin. The Spandau area in which the citadel sits was once a town in its own right, but as Berlin expanded it became incorporated into the growing Berlin. Spandau Citadel is one of the best preserved Renaissance fortresses in Europe.
The citadel was constructed between 1559 and 1594 on the site of a previous building that is thought to have dated back to 1200. Designed by the Italian architect Francesco Chiarmella de Gandino it was constructed with a bastion in each of its four corners, and these were given the names, King, Queen, Brandenburg, and Crown Prince, and it was these bastions that gave the citadel the reputation of being impregnable. Later in 1838 architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel added the Julius Tower.
In 1580 troops were first stationed in the citadel 14 years before its completion. A Swedish force besieged the citadel in 1675 but it held strong, and it was not until Napoleon’s arrival in 1806 that the citadel finally fell. The result of the French attack was that the citadel was very badly damaged and later needed to be restored.
As World War II was coming to an end, the citadel became part of the local defences. When Soviet forces arrived, rather than bombarding the citadel they held off and negotiated for the fortresses surrender. On 1st May 1945 the citadel’s commander surrendered with the result that the ancient building was left intact.
The citadel is no longer used for military purposes and since 1989 has been open to the public and mainly used as a cultural centre with historical exhibitions, open air theatrical performances, and each summer it becomes the venue for the Citadel Music Festival, which attracts both national and international performers.