The Einstein Tower is an icon of the modern age. It was built in 1920-22 by Erich Mendelsohn in a way that broke with all traditions. The Wüstenrot Stiftung has carried out the last two refurbishments of this significant monument. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) still operates the Einstein Tower in its original function: as a solar telescope.
Scroll through the history of science (above) and the history of architecture (below)!
Move the model and click on the buttons to learn all about the construction and function of the Einstein Tower!
Continue to Website
Continue to Website


The Einstein Tower is a solar observatory operated by Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP). The architect Erich Mendelsohn built the Einstein Tower between 1920 and 1922. The Wüstenrot Stiftung carried out the last two major restorations of the building between 1997 and 1999 and between 2021 and 2023, with care taken to preserve all the different historical layers. The digital exhibition »Einstein Tower revisited« invites you to immerse yourself in its history and the story of how it came into being, and gain an understanding of the building’s scientific programme. It also offers an insight into what is involved in preserving the tower as a monument.

Project Team

Imprint Image Credits Bibliography

Visit of the Cosmonauts


The cosmonauts (as astronauts were called in East Germany) Sigmund Jähn and Valery Bykovsky flew to the Salyut 6 space station in August 1978. Jähn was the first German in space. One of the sites at which they prepared for their mission was on the Telegrafenberg hill and this was also where they debriefed after returning from space on 3 September 1978. The two cosmonauts visited the Einstein Tower shortly after landing. This was the occasion for renewed refurbishment of the rendering and paintwork, after the restoration carried out between 1974 and 1976, when the roofs and dome had been cleaned, spackled with thioplast, and coated with tar epoxy resin. The Einstein Tower was now an official monument, having been given protected status by the East German Ministry of Culture in 1976.

In preparation for the welcoming ceremony for the cosmonauts, about 30 per cent of the exterior render was removed in 1978 and replaced with cement plaster in the relevant places. The same wax paint was applied as had been used in the 1950s.

The two cosmonauts Sigmund Jähn and Valery Bykovsky in front of the Soyuz 29 capsule after returning from space.
On 3 September 1978 Jähn and Bykovsky, wearing uniform and decorated with medals, come down the stairs of the newly renovated Einstein Tower, whose walls have been painted white.
Briefmarke der DDR zu Ehren Albert Einsteins mit einer von Mendelsohns Skizzen zum Einsteinturm
The renovations carried out in 1978 paid off a year later, when the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s birth was celebrated. This included the issue of a special postage stamp (seen here) bearing Einstein’s portrait and an early sketch of the Einstein Tower by Erich Mendelsohn – Einstein and Mendelsohn both remained suspicious of Germany even after 1945.
Sigmund Jähn vor Einsteinturm zur Verleihung seiner Doktorwürde
Karl-Heinz Marek (Head of Remote Sensing at the Central Institute for Earth Physics) and Sigmund Jähn in 1983 in front of the Einstein Tower with “doctoral helmets” they had made themselves for the award ceremony following their submission of a joint doctoral dissertation based on Jähn’s experiments in space.

New repair work was needed in 1984 in preparation for the 60th anniversary of the Einstein Tower’s inauguration. Once again, the work focused on restoring the render, which was burned off with a propane torch and scraper and then patched and sanded back before being painted with a polyacrylate sealant. The windows and doors were given a new finish and the dome was painted with aluminium bronze. These repairs did not last long either. In 1995, when the Wüstenrot StiftungWüstenrot Foundation (Wüstenrot Stiftung Gemeinschaft der Freunde Deutscher Eigenheimverein e. V.) devises and implements projects in the areas of monument preservation, science, research, education, art, and culture. It carried out the restoration of the Einstein Tower between 1997 and 1999 and between 2021 and 2023. went to get an initial idea of the situation prior to restoring the Einstein Tower from the ground up, the old familiar patterns of damage were evident.

Jähn and Bykovsky returned to the Telegrafenberg hill in 1988 on the tenth anniversary of their space flight to unveil the double bust erected in their honour, which stands not far from the Einstein Tower. The tower remained an important visual and scientific point of reference for East German astrophysicists and solar researchers. Although there was a smooth transition in operations after the fall of the Berlin Wall, many documents are missing – which can probably be explained by archival relocations after reunification –making it difficult to reconstruct the history of the monument and its renovations during the GDR era.

Einsteinturm mit silberner Kuppel
Einsteinturm in weiß mit silberner Kuppel
The Einstein Tower with its silver dome and damage to the render as well as a crack in the area of the terrace parapet and worn-down edges around the grassy area.