In 1695 Sophie Charlotte, wife of the Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick III, commissioned architect Arnold Nering to build her a modest summerhouse in the Italian Baroque style. On her death in 1705, Frederick named the palace Charlottenburg in her memory. When Frederick was crowned King Frederick I of Prussia in 1700, the building was enlarged into a full-scale palace. It included a distinctive central tower with cupola as well as a large orangery. Today the palace museum’s most famous exhibits are antiquities from Troy, excavated by archeologist and treasure hunter Heinrich Schliemann.
The interior of the palace was richly decorated and included the famous Amber Room (its walls were made entirely from Baltic amber), although in 1716 the room was dismantled and sent to Tsar Peter the Great of Russia as a present. After the coronation of Frederick the Great in 1740, further additions were made to the palace, notably the East Wing, although the king’s interest waned when he developed a new enthusiasm for the palace of Sanssouci in nearby Potsdam. During the eighteenth century the extensive grounds around the palace were transformed from a French-style formal garden into an exceptionally fine landscaped park, complete with ornamental lake.
Charlottenburg was severely damaged by Allied bombing in 1943 but was subsequently restored and is now the largest palace in Berlin. Within the palace are the Porzellankabinett, which contains an extensive collection of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, and the Galerie der Romantik, a display of paintings from the Romantic movement.