top of page


Updated: Apr 10

A photo on Bebelplatz in Berlin of Humboldt University


The Early Years of Bebelplatz

King Frederick II of Prussia's ambitious urban development plan. Frederick II, also known as Frederick the Great, envisioned the square as a centerpiece of the Forum Fridericianum, a grand project aimed at establishing a cultural and intellectual hub in Berlin. The square was laid out between 1741 and 1743, following the removal of the city's fortifications.

The initial plan included the construction of significant buildings such as the State Opera (Staatsoper Unter den Linden), the Royal Library (Alte Königliche Bibliothek), and St. Hedwig's Cathedral, among others. However, due to financial constraints largely brought on by military campaigns, the full vision of the Forum Fridericianum was never realized

The square was later renamed Bebelplatz ("Bebel Square") in honor of August Bebel, a prominent socialist politician and writer who played a key role in the early labor movement in Germany. Bebelplatz continued to serve as a hub of academic and cultural activity in Berlin, hosting numerous political rallies, book fairs, and other public events throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Bebelplatz During World War II

Bebelplatz's fortunes took a dramatic turn during World War II when it became one of the primary sites of Nazi book burnings. On May 10, 1933, German students and Nazi officials gathered in the square and set fire to over 20,000 books by Jewish, communist, and other authors deemed "un-German." The event was a highly symbolic act of censorship and repression, and it marked a turning point in the Nazi's campaign to control and manipulate public opinion.

After the war, Bebelplatz became a symbol of the city's resilience and its determination to confront and overcome its dark past. In 1995, a memorial was erected in the square to commemorate the book burnings and honor the victims of Nazi persecution.


Modern-Day Bebelplatz

Today, Bebelplatz is a vibrant and bustling square that reflects the city's rich cultural and intellectual heritage. It is home to several important landmarks and attractions, including the State Opera, the Cathedral of St. Hedwig, and the famous Humboldt University. The square is also a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, offering a range of restaurants, cafes, and shops that cater to every taste and budget.

Despite its tumultuous history, Bebelplatz remains a vital and dynamic part of Berlin's cultural and political landscape. Its continued significance is a testament to the resilience and determination of the city's inhabitants, who have worked tirelessly to preserve and celebrate their unique heritage and culture.



Bebelplatz is a symbol of Berlin's complex and layered history, a place where the past and present intersect in fascinating and unexpected ways. From its origins as a center of intellectual and cultural life to its role as a site of Nazi book burnings, Bebelplatz has witnessed and shaped some of the most significant events in Berlin's history. Today, it continues to inspire and captivate visitors from around the world, a testament to the city's enduring spirit and resilience.


Visiting Berlin

Want to add Bebelplatz to your group trip or team event? Contact Your Trip Berlin or book an obligation-free 30-minute meeting to get your trip started!


Berlin's Top Locations on Google Maps


Alexander La Rocca

A profile photo of Alexander La Rocca with a park in the background

Alexander La Rocca has been creating experiences for

visitors to Berlin since 2012 when he began in the tourism industry. Having organized and led thousands of tours, trips, and events, he started his own company

Whether for large groups or company or team events, he offers his expertise to make a trip to Berlin a memorable experience. Visit him at if you are looking for help organizing your visit to the city!


bottom of page