Page images

wonderful preservation may be, at all events partially, attributed: the Jews whitewash their poor dwellings for every festival, and many of them do so every Friday for the Sabbath; and every year the Ghetto is inundated by the overflowing of the Tiber, and the sewers are thus properly cleansed."

Rome is 2,637 years old as a city. If, in one sense, she is the oldest capital in Western Europe, and second in age only to Athens among the existing capitals of the whole of Europe, there is also a sense in which she is the youngest capital of our quarter of the globe. She calls herself the "Eternal City," and her new political birth, in 1870, as the capital of united Italy, has given fresh significance to this ambitious title. She has become during these thirteen years fresher, more vigorous, larger, more beautiful, and far more populous than she has been for many centuries. During the interval between the fall of the secular power of the Pope and the year 1881, the Roman population increased from 225,000 to 305,000 souls. It is generally agreed that the population of Imperial Rome has been much exaggerated by legend, and that at the most brilliant period of the city's existence its population never exceeded 650,000 souls. A century later it had sunk to 500,000, and under the Emperor Aurelian to 400,000. At the end of the twelfth century there were less than 40,000 in the city. A complete census of the citizens capable of bearing arms was taken in 1362, and their number stood at 22,000. At the period of Luther's famous visit, Rome contained about 70,000 inhabitants. During the seventeenth century the population was more than doubled, and is said to have risen to 170,000. It must have fallen considerably by the close of the last century. When Napoleon added Rome to France it contained only 117,882, inhabitants; and from that time until the entry of Victor Emmanuel as King of Italy the number steadily declined. Naples is now the only city in Italy which exceeds Rome in population, and, comparing their ratio of growth, it is estimated that in another generation Rome will have overtaken Naples.

In concluding this chapter on Rome, a few general remarks must be made as to the more modern aspects of the city, and as to certain phases of it interesting to those who may contemplate a visit.

Within the past ten or fifteen years great improvements have been made in the sanitary arrangements of the city; the drainage, which once was vile and poisonous, is now as good as is to be found in Italy. The death-rate, which was once alarmingly high, is now lower than in most of the great Italian cities. At one time it was considered unsafe to enter Rome before October, or to remain in it after May; now it is healthy all the year round, although the heat is very oppressive during the summer months, and strangers, especially if injudicious in their diet and in matters of clothing, are liable to Roman fever, which is not a serious malady unless complicated with other disorders.

Hotels and apartments are to be obtained at all prices and to suit all tastes, especially in the neighbourhood of the Piazza di Spagna-the Strangers' Quarter of the city-where also are private hotels and pensions as elegant as are to be found anywhere in Europe, and most reasonable as regards charges. In the shops, if the articles are a little dear they are generally good, and may as a rule be obtained at a cheaper rate than the price first asked for them; moreover the shops contain everything, and no matter what a man's

nationality may be he can always obtain the luxuries, as well as the necessaries, to which

he has been accustomed.

A six months' visit would not suffice to see all that is to be seen in Rome; for in addition to the "sights" of the city, some of which we have endeavoured to describe, there are Church festivals almost every day in the year, and all more or less interesting; while, as regards art, the studios of Rome are legion, and are a never-ending source of pleasure. There are several good theatres in the city, and the promenades, especially on the Pincio when the band is playing, are as gay as Hyde Park. Another unfailing source of pleasure is to watch the street-life of the-city. The Corso, with its neverending stream of people, on "business and on pleasure bent;" the piazza in front of the Pantheon, where the market-folk assemble, and groups of country people in curious costumes may be seen; the "Spanish Staircase," where artists' models most do congregate-the shepherds of the Campagna, the bagpipers of the Abruzzi, the peasants of remote mountain districts, all in the most picturesque costumes-present a series of pictures upon which one never tires of gazing.

The means of locomotion in Rome are ample and good. The fiacres are about as comfortable as anything in the shape of a one-horse carriage can possibly be, and these are to be met with in every piazza, and may be engaged for a very small sum-about two francs an hour for two persons. The omnibus service is good, and the vehicles are above the average as regards comfort.

[graphic][merged small]


The Valley of the Spree-Rise of the City-Population-Streets-Unter den Linden-Squares and Open Spaces-Opera
Platz-Palace of the Emperor William-Academy of Art and Science-Palace of the Crown Prince-The Schloss
Brücke-Lustgarten-Royal Palace-The Old and New Museums-Churches-Synagogues-Hospitals-Borse-Chamber
of Deputies-Public Museums-The Schloss Montbijou-Factories-Amusements-Suburbs and
Aeussere Friedrichstadt-The Stralan Quarter-Outside the Brandenburg Gate-The Thiergarten-Charlottenburg
-POTSDAM, and its Memorials of Frederick the Great-Sans Souci-Voltaire-Spandau.


CROSS a level tract that was originally in part a marsh and in part a sandy waste, winds the sluggish Spree, with its numerous branches and canals. Upon this dead flat, so level that it is with difficulty the water finds its way along the gutters, stands Berlin, once the Prussian barrack metropolis, in which every fourth man was a soldier, now the vast capital of the German Empire, in close rivalry with Vienna for the third place among the cities of Europe. By the Spree and its canals it communicates with the Baltic and the North Sea, and is the centre of a great network of railways; in commerce it stands in the front rank of German cities; and as a manufacturing town it is almost without a rival on the Continent of Europe. It is claimed by the Berliners that, as regards traffic, the Spree and its canals outvie the Rhine.



The whole of the Spree Valley, three miles in width, and intersected by numerous water-courses, is now covered with buildings, which, indeed, are beginning to spread on to the adjacent elevated plain. Alt-Berlin, on the right bank of the Spree; Alt-Köln, on an island in the river; and Friedrichswerder and Neu-Köln am Wasser, on the left bank of the Spree, are the heart of the city, and were once hemmed in by fortifications. Seven other quarters surrounding these are ringed by streets, which show where the eighteenthcentury walls stood till a comparatively recent date; and beyond these extends a zone of suburbs, making up the sixteen quarters into which Berlin is now divided.

No German, however patriotic, pretends that Berlin is picturesque in its external aspect. In this respect its situation is against it, and so is the fact that it possesses no mediæval castles or churches, no ancient edifices rich in historic memories and associations: indeed, the capital of Germany is singularly unlike the ordinary conception of a German city, its streets being "of agonising length and deplorable rectangularity." Yet there is no lack of architectural display; handsome buildings have sprung up in every quarter, during the last ten years especially, and the old two-storeyed German house is fast disappearing. But Berlin is still in a transition state; alterations and improvements are everywhere going on; bridges, water-courses, and drains are being looked to; tramways have been laid down in many directions; and a railway crosses the city from east to west. It is understood that in some of the plans and arrangements now being carried out the authorities have in view a future probable city of two million inhabitants.

Six hundred years ago, when London and Paris and Vienna had already a long and memorable past to look back upon, the two little fishing-villages of Berlin and Köln stood, in close proximity, on the banks of the Spree. In the fourteenth century the two towns united, and as the head of a confederation of towns of the Mark, joined the Hanseatic League, and maintained a qualified independence. But the fifteenth century saw the Hohenzollerns rising to power, and the Mark submitted to their rule. Berlin, for holding out against them, was deprived of its privileges by Frederick with the Iron Tooth, and was kept in check by a fortified castle. But soon the Hohenzollerns made Berlin-Köln their permanent abode, and the town has since shared the fortunes of that dynasty.

The sixteenth century saw the advent of the Reformed faith, which Berlin and its rulers espoused. Then came the horrors of the Thirty Years' War, and siege and sack and pestilence greatly reduced the population, and generally impoverished the city.

It was in the seventeenth century, under Frederick William, the Great Elector and founder of the Prussian Monarchy, that Berlin began its career of importance and prosperity. The king extended the town, and granted it municipal privileges, swept away the forest that grew up to the very walls, and planted in its place the broad Linden-Allee, now one of the finest streets in the city. Foreign traders and artisans, more especially French refugees, settled in the town; commerce increased; and the Court fostered art and literature, and embellished the streets with new buildings. In 1701 Frederick I. mounted the throne his father had created, and continued to improve the city by building numerous important edifices, his principal architect being the celebrated Andreas Schlüter. In this reign flourished Leibnitz, first president of the Berlin Academy of Science. The steady progress of the city continued throughout the reign of Frederick William I.; and when, in 1740, Frederick the Great began his reign, he found Berlin with a population of 91,000, which increased to 145,000 in 1786, the year in which the great king died. He built some hundreds of fine dwelling-houses for citizens, as well as churches and public buildings. Under Frederick William II., Berlin continued to grow, and the disasters of the French occupation in the reign of William III. did not materially hinder its prosperity. Since the peace of 1815, and especially since the era of railroads set in, the commerce and wealth of Berlin have made gigantic progress. The population in 1810, when Frederick William IV. ascended the Prussian throne, was 329,000; and when the present Emperor William became king, in 1861, it had increased to 496,000, since which time it has more than doubled, the population according to the census of 1881 numbering 1,222,360.

The aggregate length of the streets of Berlin is one hundred and sixty miles; the longest street being the Friedrichsstrasse, intersecting the quarter of Friedrichstadt, the chief commercial district and principal rendezvous of travellers. It is crossed by several good streets, among them the animated Leipzigerstrasse, with its handsome buildings. The Königsstrasse is a great artery of traffic intersecting the old town: perhaps the most crowded street in Berlin. Here stands the Rathhaus, an imposing brick edifice, with a tower two hundred and forty-three feet in height, and its halls and saloons elaborately adorned with panelling, painted ceilings, and frescoes. The Wilhelmsstrasse contains numerous ministerial and ambassadorial residences, and is considered in its northern half

to be the most aristocratic part of the city. But the most famous street in Berlin is the Unter den Linden, of which every one has heard a thoroughfare elegant and lively, lined with stately mansions and palaces, spacious hotels, and attractive shops-a street inferior in brilliancy to the Boulevards of Paris, but possessing important characteristics of its own. This fashionable promenade is one hundred and ninety-six feet in width, with carriage-drives and paved footways, a broad central gravel-walk, and two avenues of lime-trees interspersed with chestnuts, while on either side, at intervals, other fine streets stretch out in long vistas. At the western end of the Linden is the Brandenburg Gate, erected in 1789-93, in imitation of the Propylæum at Athens, but on a larger scale. Twelve massive Doric columns support a Car of Victory, which was removed to Paris by Napoleon in 1807, but was brought home again in triumph by the Prussians in 1814. From the Brandenburg Gate the Linden stretches a mile eastward to the Opera Platz, and about half-way along it is the entrance to the Kaisergallerie, built, from designs by Kyllmann and Heyden, in 1869-73-one of the handsomest and liveliest arcades in Europe.

There are about sixty squares or open spaces in Berlin, the largest being the Gensdarmenmarkt, of which the central portion is called the Schiller Platz. Here are

the New Church and the French Church, and between them, on the Schiller Platz, is the Royal Theatre, built by Schinkel in 1821, to replace a previous erection which had been burnt down. These three buildings are considered by some to form the finest architectural group in the city. In front of the theatre steps stands a monument of Schiller in marble; the pedestal is adorned with allegorical figures, and above stands a noble statue of the poet, nine feet in height.

At the eastern end of the Linden is the bronze statue of Frederick the Great, above a colossal group of figures of the great men of his reign. Upon a pedestal of polished granite, the bronze monument rises in three sections, the lower containing the names of about a hundred contemporary soldiers, statesmen, and scholars; at the four corners of the next section are equestrian statues of Prince Henry of Prussia and Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, and Generals Zieten and Seydlitz; between these are life-sized groups, chiefly of military men, although on one side are seen Lessing and Kant. On the upper section are figures in bold relief, depicting scenes in the life of Frederick, while high above all is the statue of the great king, representing him as seated on horseback in his coronation robes, his head adorned with a cocked hat and pigtail, and a walking-stick in his hand. This monument was erected by Rauch, 1810-51, and is undoubtedly one of the finest of its kind in Europe.

Unter den Linden terminates at the Opera Platz, in close proximity to which are several of the most important buildings in Berlin. Before describing them, let us take a glance at a scene which might have been witnessed here on the 16th of June, 1871. All Berlin upon that memorable morning had broken out into festal decoration-flags and banners, mottoes and devices, in endless variety made the long streets brilliant with varied colours. It was the home-coming of the triumphant army that had humbled France, and Berlin was full of joy in knowing that the insults and injuries, the insolence and treachery, of over a hundred years were all wiped away. Up the Linden Allee came the

« PreviousContinue »