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Solar Observatory Einstein Tower

Artists concept of the Einstein Tower by Erich Mendelsohn.Southern side of the Einstein Tower


The »Einsteinturm« is the first important building designed by the famous architect Erich Mendelsohn. It was planned and built in the years 1919 to 1924, the main part was finished in 1921. One may argue wether it makes sense to define the building in terms of architectual style. The tower is often called the »main example for architectual expressionism«. Its overall design is very harmonic, however, and Mendelsohn's own perception oppose was different. In this aspect, everybody has to find his own answer.

The Einstein Tower is a functional building – a solar observatory. Until the second World War it was the most prominent research institution of that kind in Europe. The tower is therefore also an example for the very few connections between science and art, as Mendelsohn fulfilled the conditions for the scientific use as well as his own concepts of form. Due to Mendelsohn's interest in Einstein's work, some of the spririt of the exciting developments in modern physics is also captured in the building. Between November 1997 and July 1999 the Einstein Tower was repaired and completely renovated. Two thirds of the total cost of 3 million DM for the restauration work of the Einstein Tower during 1997–1999 were carried by the Wüstenrot Foundation .

Interior and exterior views of the Einstein Tower are presented in a short movie by Mathias Rehfeld, who created this movie (the narration is in German) as part of his professional training as media engineer.

The Einstein Tower is part of the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP) based in the Babelsberg Observatory today; the area on the Telegraph Hill (Telegrafenberg) is used by Geo-Forschungszentrum Potsdam and other institutes of climate and polar research.

A limited number of visits is possible after pre-registration.

The »Great Refractor«, to the north of the Einstein Tower, was overhauled in Jena and was re-inaugurated on May 31, 2006. It is now open to the public as a scientific and technical monument including observations on some evenings (announced at the AIP event page).