St. Clemens Church

The St. Clemens Church is located across the street from the old Berlin Customs Wall. These days, its official name is "Exerzitienzentrum der Göttlichen Barmherzigkeit für die Reevangelisation" (Retreat Center of the Divine Mercy for the Re-evanglization), but I'm going to just call it St. Clemens because there is a church named St. Clemens within the complex. Like a few other recent posts, the St. Clemens Church is not so easy to spot. It's located way back in a courtyard along Stresemanstrstraße in Kreuzberg. Even if you see the building from the street, you might not immediately think it's a church because much of the complex is now a youth hostel.

The view from the street. St. Clemens Church in the foreground, with the youth hostel through the arches in the background.

The Church was originally built in 1910, under the direction of a Roman Catholic priest named Clemens August Graf von Galen. The intention was to build both a church and a "journeyman house", which I guess was just meant to provide housing to Catholics traveling to the city. The facility was large enough to house 200-400 people.

The Church building is still standing. The hostel is off to the right.

The Church served as a makeshift hospital during and after the First World War. According to the hostel's website, it was confiscated by the Gestapo during the 1940s due to "subversive activities." I couldn't find any confirmation of this, so perhaps it's best to take it with a grain of salt. The Church was damaged during the war and reconstructed afterwards. I couldn't find any photos of the extent of the damage, but there are lots of contrasting facades and sudden changes in material. Maybe those places are the remaining signs of war damage.

This part still looks very much like a Church.

The complex operated as a religious center for the rest of 20th century. In the 21st century, it ran into financial difficulties and was sold to investors. The church itself is leased by the Catholic Church, but since 2006 most of the complex was turned into a youth hostel. I guess the fact that it was originally built as a house for journeymen made the conversion relatively simply, and appropriate.

I really like how seamlessly the church and hostel blend into the surrounding houses, even though St. Clemens is very distinct architecturally. Early and mid-20th century architecture move gracefully into highlights from the 21st. Layers and layers of history! Keep scrolling for a few more photos.

The old journeyman's housing complex has been reconfigured into a youth hostel. A nice little courtyard where visitors can relax.

The entryway, looking back towards the street. The exit back to Stresemanstr. is through the arches to the left.

A back entrance.

St. Clemens Church, seen from around the corner. The building stands out in the area. Its architecture is really "churchy" compared to the other buildings in the immediate vicinity.

A cross above the entryway.