100 years of Babylonian decor in Klosterstrasse tube station


On 17 July 2013 the official unveiling took place of a special plaque in Klosterstrasse underground station that explains to passengers why the walls on the staircase landings are decorated in the Babylonian style, 100 years after the decoration was put in place. The ceremony was attended by senior scholar Dr. R. B. Wartke of the Vorderasiatisches Museum and its Director, Prof. Dr. B. Salje, along with H.C. Kaiser, Director of Underground Transport at the BVG, and A. Walsh, Chairman of Freunde der Antike auf der Museumsinsel Berlin.

The walls are decorated with stylized depictions of palms, a motive that is borrowed from the Throne Room facade from the Palace of King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon (604-562 BC). The original reconstructions of massive Babylonian architectures with their coloured glazed tiles have been on display in their current location in the Pergamonmuseum since 1930.

The Babylonian wall decorations were originally put on display in 1913 because the station was situated near to the former headquarters of the company owned by Berlin patron James Simon, in Klosterstrasse 80-82. As such, the coloured wall tiles were a tribute from Alfred Grenander, architect of the then new underground line, to James Simon, who substantially funded the German excavations in Babylon (1899-1917).