Germany completed the demolition of a communist-era building that doubled as a house of parliament and palace of culture, clearing the site for a replica of the earlier Berlin royal palace.
The final remains of the Palace of the Republic have been removed
A design for the old-new palace, to be named the Humboldt Forum, was picked last week, but building work at the site in the middle of the German capital will not start for another two years.
Completing two years of work, diggers ripped down on Tuesday, Dec. 2, the final staircase of the Palace of the Republic, which was once a 180-meter (590-foot) long building lined with the asbestos insulation and clad with copper-colored glass.
Old-time communists have mourned the demise of former East Germany's grandest building, opened in 1976, and have opposed plans to recreate the outward form of the old royal palace.
The authoritarian kaisers lived in Berlin or nearby Potsdam until the last abdicated in 1918 and Germany became a republic. The old palace was gutted by fire during World War II and demolished in 1950.
Michael Moeller, in charge of the new demolition work, said, "That's the finish of the main job. Now we have to grind up the last pile of rubble and take everything off the site."
The pit left after demolition is to be filled with 20,000 cubic meters of sand so grass can be planted on the site until work begins in 2010 on the Humboldt Forum.