Berlin is set to open a 15th-century palace that once belonged to its Kaiser and is now the crowning glory of extensive reconstruction carried out in the German capital since the breaching of the Berlin Wall.
It was also among the city's most controversial projects.
Blending baroque with a modern style, the 677-million-euro ($A1.1 billion) palace was entirely redesigned and rebuilt.
It was demolished in 1950 by East German communists as a symbol of Germany's past imperial militarism and due to wartime bombing damage.
The new palace is known as the Humboldt Forum in a tribute to Germany's Humboldt brothers, who were 19th century scholars celebrated in the fields of science and education.
It will be home to major collections from two state museums as well as objects that describe the history of Berlin.
"The Humboldt Forum will become a new city quarter," said the project's General Director and art historian Hartmut Dorgerloh.
Spread over about 40,000 square metres and backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and her predecessor Gerhard Schroeder, the new building blends a modern interior with a largely neo-classical facade designed by Italian architect Franco Stella.
An avowed fan of German culture, Merkel has already hosted a meeting in the building with French President Emmanuel Macron, when it was entering its final stage of reconstruction two years ago.
But the ambitious plan to resurrect the palace had many critics, too.
Opponents questioned whether rebuilding the main Berlin residence of the country's former royal family - until the Kaiser fled into exile at the end of World War 1 - was really the message modern Germany wanted to send the world.
The 12-metre-high cross placed on the dome of the building in May only sparked further criticism.
"What does this mean for Germany as a multicultural, heterogeneous, post-migrant society?" curator Mahret Kupka asked, adding that Christianity was also closely linked to colonial history.
"Christianity has been a channel through which colonialism also functioned and was strengthened," she said. "Things were stolen or destroyed, practically in the name of Christianity."
Due to threat of the coronavirus, the Humboldt Forum's official opening on December 16 has now been moved online, and is to be followed by a phased launch.
Access to the whole building is unlikely before the end of next year.
Australian Associated Press