Capital, Republic of Germany.
It grew out of two settlements in the Mark of Brandenburg: Kölln, first mentioned, 1237; and Berlin, dating from 1244.
A first attempt at union was made, 1307; Berlin-Kölln joined the Hanseatic league, 1340, and by the 15th century had gained great importance.
The spread of Christianity and the development of civilization throughout the Mark may be attributed largely to the Teutonic Knights and the Cistercian monks.
At the time of the Reformation the city numbered about 18 churches, but in 1539 the new faith was formally accepted by the nobility, and a few months later the Lord's Supper, according to the Lutheran Rite, was celebrated for the first time, in the Dominican church, later transformed into the Protestant cathedral.
The monasteries were suppressed, the last Catholic priest died, 1571, and for about 150 years public Catholic service was forbidden, and Mass could be celebrated only in the private chapels of Catholic embassies.
Although the Thirty Years War, accompanied by plague, depleted the population to 4000, the city regained its importance, but suffered again during the Seven Years War when it was twice plundered.
At the close of the war, however, Frederick the Great inaugurated a strenuous campaign of reconstruction, and, since the conquest of Silesia had greatly increased the Catholic population, he encouraged religious toleration and built the Catholic church of Saint Hedwig.
The partition of Poland, followed by secularization, added further to the number of Catholics in Berlin, but it was not until 1848 that comparative freedom was obtained.
Since then the number of Catholics has grown consistently with the development of the city, and now forms 11 per cent of the total population of 4,024,165.
The city is in the Diocese of Breslau.
Among the medieval buildings are the 13th-century Marienkirche and Klosterkirche.
New Catholic Dictionary