Stadtbad Charlottenburg

Berlin, Germany | C.1896

Photo Credit: Michael Schulz

Located in the western neighborhood of Charlottenburg, this public bath is the oldest in Berlin. The Art Nouveau Alte Halle – Old Hall – sits behind a brick façade embellished with marine gargoyles and was designed in 1898 by the neighborhood’s own well-known architect Paul Batring.

Charlottenburg is an affluent locality of Berlin within the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. Established as a town in 1705 and named after late Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, Queen consort of Prussia, it is best known for Charlottenburg Palace. The 1860s was when the wealthy Bourgeoisie of Berlin discovered Charlottenburg as a residential area. Until World War I, the neighborhood saw an enormous increase of population with 100,000 inhabitants as of 1893 and a population of 306,000 in 1920, making it the second largest city within the Province of Brandenburg, after Berlin.

The influx of population spurred additional upgrades to the city’s infrastructure including the proposals to upgrade the bath. Renovations in the 1920s included the installation of a chlorination plant and the town bath was connected to the district heating power plant replacing the need for the steam boilers.

Prior to the 1930s men and women bathed separately, and had different times they could attend swimming sessions. It was in the ‘30s that the public bath introduced “family days” to the pool’s calendar twice every week overruling the separation of men and women. Today there are no distinctions for when people can enjoy the baths.

In the last days of World War II, the structure was damaged and fell into a state of disrepair until a major renovation in the 1970s. Initially the town planned to demolish the old bath and start anew, but after further consideration they decided to preserve it. Since 1982, the building has been open to the public, and its architectural history continues to be preserved.

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