History and museums
Französischer Dom (the term is German for "French Cathedral", but in the case of Gendarmenmarkt Dom refers to the French word for English "dome" and not to a cathedral. Neither church on Gendarmenmarkt was ever the church of a bishop. The terminology is a relic of francophone Frederick the Great, who was instrumental in enhancing Gendarmenmarkt) is the colloquial designation for the "French Church of Friedrichstadt" (French: Temple de la Friedrichstadt, German: Französische Friedrichstadtkirche) located in Berlin on the Gendarmenmarkt across from the Deutscher Dom (German Church), formerly a church of German-speaking congregants.
Louis Cayart and Abraham Quesnay built the first parts of the French Church from 1701 to 1705 for the Huguenot (Calvinist) community. At that time, Huguenots made up about 25% of Berlin's population. The French Church was modelled after the destroyed Huguenot temple in Charenton-Saint-Maurice, France.
In 1785 Carl von Gontard modified the church and built—wall to wall next to it—the domed tower, which, together with the French-speaking congregants, gave the church its name. The domed tower is technically not part of the church, there is no access between church and tower, and both buildings have different proprietors. It was built to embellish the Gendarmenmarkt ensemble at the instigation of Frederick the Great. The Deutscher Dom, however, on the other side of Gendarmenmarkt, consists of church building and tower as an entity.
In 1817 the French Church community, like most Prussian Calvinist, Reformed and Lutheran congregations joined the common umbrella organisation named the Evangelical Church in Prussia (under this name since 1821), with each congregation maintaining its former denomination or adopting the new united denomination. The community of the "French Church of Friedrichstadt" maintained its Calvinist denomination.
Nevertheless, already before the union of the Prussian Protestants the congregation underwent a certain acculturation with Lutheran traditions: An organ was installed in 1753, competing with the Calvinist traditional of only singing without instrumental accompaniment. The singing of psalms was extended by hymns in 1791. The sober interior was refurbished in a more decorative but still Calvinist aniconistic style by Otto March in 1905. The organ has been played by Thomas Hawkes, among others. Today's community is part of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia.
The Französischer Dom was heavily damaged in World War II, then re-built from 1977 to 1981. Today it is not only used by its congregations, but also for conventions by the Evangelical Church in Germany.
The domed tower, which is a viewing platform open to visitors, provides a panoramic view of Berlin. A restaurant is located in the basement underneath the prayer hall. The tower also contains the Huguenot museum of Berlin.