Spandu Citadel

Berlin, Germany | C.1559

Photo Credit: Pavel Nekoranec

The Spandau Citadel (German: Zitadelle Spandau) is a fortress in Berlin, Germany, and one of the best-preserved Renaissance military structures of Europe. Built from 1559-1594 atop a medieval fort on an island, it was designed to protect the town of Spandau which is now part of Berlin.

With four bastions symmetrically arranged and connected by curtain walls, the Spandau citadel is an ideal example of a 16th century fortress. Due to the bastions’ formation, there is no blind spot for enemies to hide.

In 1806, the citadel’s garrison surrendered to the French army under Napoleon without firing a shot. It was retaken by Prussian and Russian forces soon after, but the ramparts were heavily damaged, requiring extensive restoration.

Close to the end of World War II, during the battle in Berlin, the citadel became a part of the city’s defenses. Although several hundred years old, the Citadel’s trace l’italienne design made the structure difficult to storm. So instead of bombarding, the Soviets invested it and set about negotiating a surrender.

After the war, and the division of Berlin by the Allied powers, Spandau and its Citadel were part of the British sector. Today, the structure is a museum open to the public.

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