History of Schloss Sommerswalde – “The Little Reichstag”

In 1891 a dream came true for the owner Richard Sommer of Berlin: the last building of his country seat was completed, a representative castle, erected after the first, unrealized draft for the Berlin Reichstag.

He financed the construction of the building complex at the gates of the capital by selling the family-owned lands outside Berlin and the grounds surrounding the Brandenburg Gate.

Richard Sommer resided until his death in 1916 together with his wife and his eleven children in the mansion of Sommerswalde. To the building ensemble is an orangery, built in the form of a mosque, a forester’s house, a neo-Gothic “servant’s house” and a red clinker building, reminiscent of the Rote Rathaus in Berlin with its central tower and four smaller corner towers.

Schloss Sommerswalde 1900

Schloss Sommerswalde 1900

Schloss Sommerswalde today

“The Red Town Hall” (aka The Red House)

Richard Sommer used this building as a horse stable for his Arabian horses, who were brought over from Turkey. On the first floor were the staff apartments and in the middle tower was a water storage, which supplied the entire property with drinking water.

The Red House has been newly renovated and offers accommodation for the residents of Tharpaland IRC.

“The Old Mosque” (The Orangerie)

Richard Sommer had a predilection for the Morgenland on the model of the then German commercial representation in Delhi, India, he had the Orangerie of the castle reconstructed in the form of an old mosque with high minarets and onion roofs. The stones for this purpose were sent from the Orient. On the largest of the many onion domes was a vane wheel for energy production

Today residents live in the Orangerie. In the near future, the Orangerie will be renovated to create more space for individual retreaters who devote themselves to silent meditation retreat.

Some key facts of the further history of Schloss Sommerswalde:

• In 1916, after the death of Richard Sommers, the estate was sold for reasons of inheritance.

• In 1922 the entrepreneur, lawyer and “steel helm” member Dr. Erich Lübbert acquired the property.

• Until 1924 extensive reconstruction work took place: the mansion dome was removed, as well as the minarets and onion houses of the orangery

• April 1945 Red Army invasion, until 1949 the mansion was used as a Russian commandant

• Used until 1989 by the “FDJ” as a pioneer leader school “Alexej Maressjew”

• 1989-2006 different use and vacancy

• 2006 Acquisition by the New Kadampa Tradition International Union of Kadampa Buddhism and the beginning of the reconstruction work

• 2008 Opening of the “Kadampa Meditation Center Germany” of the New Kadampa Tradition

• 2010 Brandenburg Conservation Prize for the exemplary renovation of Schloss Sommerswalde.

• 2012 “Tharpaland International Retreat Center” of the New Kadampa tradition moves from Scotland to Sommerswalde Castle. The “Kadampa Meditation Center Germany” moves to Berlin Mitte.

Nowadays, Tharpaland International Retreat Centre offers many programmes about meditation and modern buddhism including long and short silent retreats, day courses, workshops and study programmes. Annual Dharma Celebrations and Festivals take place here and school classes are very welcome to visit and learn more about Buddhism. Visitors can enjoy and relax in the peaceful natural surroundings of the beautiful forest.