History of Berlin
Berlin began as a mere crossing point on the persecution during the religious upheavals in
River Spree in the 13th century, but quickly Europe during the Reformation in the 1500s.
rose in importance as a centre of trade. Unfortunately however, this wasn’t the case
There would be no such thing as a single the for all: Jews were expelled from the city
state called Germany until 1871, but Berlin between 1510 and 1648 when the community
was the seat of the ‘Elector’ (the ruler) of was wrongly accused of stealing a religious
Brandenburg, and in 1701 became capital relic. Islam arrived in Berlin in the 18th century,
of the Prussian Empire, so it’s always been mainly from the Turkish Ottoman Empire,
central in the history of the German people. which at one point had extended as far north
The city was characterised from an early as Vienna. The city’s Muslim community
stage by its tolerance towards different cultures now numbers around 200,000 people.
and religions, and gave refuge to victims of During the Prussian era, many of Berlin’s
doubt inherited from his father, the “Soldier
King” Frederick I), he is acknowledged for
bringing Prussia into the consort of Europe’s
leading powers of the time. By the end of
his reign, the territory of Prussia had grown
by 64%, state revenues had increased from
7 to 23 million thalers and the ranks of the
Prussian army had swelled from 80,000 to
194,000 men. The lands of Silesia, East
Frisia and West Prussia had been brought
What a legend. This guy really knew his onions. within Prussian boundaries. Job well done!
Frederick II was a very learned and intelligent Word on the street was that Frederick was
man; a fluent speaker of Greek, Latin, Hebrew a homosexual; he did have a wife but was
and Arabic, he was a military man who never seen in public with her, they did not have
supported the Enlightenment and enjoyed any children together and, oh yes, apparently
nothing better than to discuss philosophy. he liked to sleep with men. Uniquely, he was
Also keen to promote the arts and sciences, bestowed with the title of “the Great” during his
in his spare time he liked to commission lifetime, in recognition of his many outstanding
great new buildings for the city of Berlin. achievements. He died on 17th August
Frederick the Great was a mighty force 1786. Check out the statue of Frederick the
to be reckoned with. Believing that war was Great and his horse on Unter den Linden.
simply a continuation of politics (a view he no - Linda Cooke
famous landmarks were built, including some of were defeated in war again in 1870, confirming
those around Unter Den Linden, between the Prussia as the dominant German state. Berlin
Brandenburg Gate (1791) and Museum Island. became the capital of the new unified German
Massive damage was caused by bombing and Reich a year later.
invasion in World War Two, and much historic Culture blossomed, with Museum Island, the
architecture was lost or had to be restored. But College of Music, the Philharmonic Orchestra
Berlin has always had a forward-looking attitude and artists like Edvard Munch making Berlin
towards architecture, demonstrated today by the a major centre for the arts in Europe. The
way buildings of all eras are scattered among population had reached two million by 1912, due
new construction sites and each other. There in part to expansion of the city’s boundaries.
has apparently never been the same nostalgic Everything was turned upside down,
reverence shown towards buildings as in other however, with the outbreak of The Great War
major European cities. in 1914. Germany went into it full of confidence,
Napoleon’s defeat of Prussia in 1806 was but ended up defeated and humiliated. A short
a major turning point for Berlin. Under French period of calm followed: there was a new
control rather than the old elites, the populace democratic administration, new technologies
began to adopt new kinds of liberal thinking, like cinema and cars arrived in Berlin, and the
and when Napoleon was defeated in 1813, thriving cultural scene returned. But underneath
much of the Prussian army were volunteers this veil of prosperity lay massive inflation, black
wearing black, red and gold uniforms. The markets and political division between the new
feeling was that the people themselves had socialist Left and the old establishment Right.
rescued Berlin, and in 1848 the liberal middle- The crash of the American stock markets
classes led a demonstration demanding more in 1929 made Germany bankrupt; Berlin was
political freedom, using the new black, red and hit with massive unemployment and political
gold tricolor as their banner. A new constituent violence. A short, angry man with a silly
assembly was promised by the King as a moustache had been gaining influence in the
result. south of Germany, using communists and Jews
Berlin began to industrialise. New railways and as scapegoats for the country’s ills. Adolf Hitler’s
factories were built. With these developments National Socialists (Nazis) came to power in
came new issues like workers’ rights and trade elections in 1933, with a third of the national
unions. Prussia grew in strength, and the French vote, though the figure was only 25% in Berlin.
Berlin Under Hitler 1933 - 1945
It’s difficult to know exactly how to attempt to Jews of Europe. But there are many other sites
describe Adolf Hitler’s effect on modern day across Berlin important to this part of history as
Berlin. In 1933 he took control of a nation in well.
ruins. He then attempted to turn it into the most Most obvious is the Reichstag. It burned
powerful superpower on the planet with himself down within a month of Hitler coming to power,
as undisputed, supreme leader (Fuehrer). allowing him to blame his opponents and
He nearly succeeded. In his attempt, he won immediately clamp down on political freedoms.
considerable support in Germany, and some The Alte Bibliothek in Bebelplatz was the
admiration abroad. scene in 1933 of the burning of ‘Un-German’
When the world found out the true extent of the books by Nazi supporters.
horrors he employed to achieve his ambitions, The Olympic Stadium now hosts the city’s
however, it shook humanity to its core. highest ranking football team, Hertha Berlin. But
Berlin was to be the capital of that superpower, in 1936 it was the venue for the Olympic Games,
the grand, shining centre of a mighty empire. at which Hitler tried to showcase the success of
Instead, Hitler’s mad bid for immortality led his policies to the world. By that time he had
to the utter devastation of the city, and many dismantled all remaining democratic institutions
others. and removed Jews from official posts.
It led to the deaths of countless millions of The Jewish quarter near Hallesches Tor
people: killed in battle and in air raids, or tortured endured ‘Kristallnacht’ in 1938 when synagogues
to death by the secret police, or starved to death and businesses were attacked, and 1200 Jews
in ghettos, or worked to death in slave labour were arrested.
camps, or gassed to death in extermination The villa at Wannsee, just outside Berlin,
camps. Hitler terrorised the German people into hosted a meeting of high ranking Nazi officials
obedience. Then he committed suicide as his in 1942 in which the ‘Final Solution’ to the
dream collapsed around him, leaving them to fate of Europe’s Jews was decided, and the
shoulder the terrible burden of blame. extermination camps planned. It is now a
If anything positive can possibly have come memorial and visitor centre.
from such an appalling chapter in the world’s At Rosenstrasse near Alexanderplatz is a
history, then Berlin today with its overwhelming tribute to the “Block der Frauen”, comemorating
disgust and intolerance of any kind of racism an act of defiance to Nazi rule in 1943. Hundreds
or bigoted attitudes might just be it. Berlin has of non-Jewish women protested over the arrests
seen first hand how destructive these things can of their Jewish husbands, and the men were
be, and it isn’t about to let them happen again. later released. Finally, the Soviet memorial in
To get a good understanding of this subject Treptower Park is a vast and hugely powerful
during your stay in Berlin, you could do a monument to Russia’s war dead. It was used
lot worse than visit the Topography of Terror as a military parade ground during the divided
exhibition and the Memorial for the Murdered post-war years.
Divided Berlin: 1945 - 1989
Germany surrendered on 8th May 1945. Hitler was gone but Berlin was reduced to rubble. A third of
its pre-war population of 4.2 million had left or been killed. The enormous clear up and reconstruction
job was started immediately by the joint French, British, American and Soviet administration, but the
diametrically opposed ideologies of Communism and Capitalism could not work together for long.
Friction grew, and in 1948, the Soviets put an end to the co-operation. In what is known as the Berlin
Blockade, the army surrounded West Berlin, isolating it from West Germany and the outside world.
The Allies responded with an ‘Air Bridge’, sending hundreds of planes to maintain their part of the
city with supplies. The situation was extremely tense: any sign of aggression from either side could
have triggered a new war, with the added threat of nuclear weapons. That catastrophic possibility
never occurred, but the uneasy relationship and competition between East and West throughout
the Cold War period was played out here in Berlin. The bizarre situation of the separated city after
construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961 symbolised this conflict, and if people were nervous over
the nuclear threat throughout the world, Berliners knew that their city would be the front line of any
outright warfare between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies. Communism was abandoned
by much of the world after 1989 (though left-wing politics remain prominent in Berlin today). The
opening of the Berlin Wall was arguably the greatest moment in German, if not European or world,
history. The emotions were as huge as the implications: the pain was over; Berlin had suffered for
60 years since World War One. Now, finally, it could shape its own future and look forward with
confidence. It was reinstated as Germany’s capital in January 1991.
Two Worlds In One City. personalised and decorated their homes, cars
and clothes wherever possible. For those living
Western observers tend to view the West/East in the West, the situation was hard, surrounded
divide as one of good and bad, happiness on all sides by a hostile regime. They had
and hardship, freedom and oppression. But access to more choices of products on the
that wouldn’t really be fair on the Communist free market, and better technology. They could
administration of East Germany’s SED party. participate in their own government, and say
Unemployment in the GDR was very low, and read what they wanted. They were free
adequate housing was provided by the state, to criticise, and many did. Not everyone was
as were schools and hospitals. Organised a capitalist, just as not everyone in the East
community groups for the youth or for workers was a Communist. The closeness of the two
encouraged social cohesion, holidays were competing ideologies led to demonstrations
common, and nearly everyone had a garden. and rioting, even terrorism.
What people really craved, though, was the Fundamentally, though, the biggest hurt was
variety and individuality they saw in the West. the division: Berlin was home, and suddenly
Eastern media was censored, but it was impos- people were denied access to half of their
sible to prevent people tuning radios or TVs home, to their families, and the graves of loved
into Western frequencies. Contradictorily, the ones. And it was through no fault of their own,
stifling monotony of equal, standardised living but because of the failure of powerful govern-
encouraged creativity. Punk music and fashion ments to compromise with each other.
became popular in the 1970s, and people - Matthew Lovegrove
In formal dining, we learn to work our way from the outside in, in Berlin we like to say start in
the ‘Mitte’ and work your way out. Most people will have their first experience of Berlin
in central Mitte as this is where the greatest concentration of sights are that people come
to see, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the museums and the Berliner
Dom. Its interesting to note here that most of the grand buildings and beautiful pieces of
architecture in Mitte were part of East Berlin once the Wall was erected in 1961...no fair!
First thing’s first, get yourself acquainted with Alexanderplatz or ‘Alex’ as it is affectionately
known here in Berlin; this is sure to become the focal point of your stay, despite its Weimar
Republic ugliness! You can orientate yourself by the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) which looms
high in the sky and use it to calculate your whereabouts. Central avenue Unter den Linden is
littered with interesting things to see such as the stunning Museuminsel (Museum Island) and
makes for a super walk. However, tourist attractions alone do not define the borough of Mitte.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a sobering tribute and has to be seen to be
believed. It is a poignant and haunting piece of work which seeks to engage our emptions
in a novel yet ultimately stark way. Its size alone will leave a lasting mark on your mind.
Veering off to the north of Unter den Linden is Friedrichstrasse, which leads on to Oranienburger
Strasse and is a very lively area especially after dark and at weekends. The area is home to
a vibrant restaurant quarter, the Kunsthaus Tacheles and plenty of watering holes. If you head
slightly east of Oranienburger Strasse you will find yourself in the Scheunenviertel or ‘Barn District’
which is home to the historical Jewish quarter and a number of one-off shops, galleries, cafes,
restaurants and bars. This district fans out a little further north eastwards up into Rosenthaler Platz
where you can experience some Fair Trade dining (more details later) and looping back round
and heading south again, you will find yourself in the Hackescher Markt area. This too is a lively
neighbourhood; during the day you can go shopping on Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse, Rosenthaler
Strasse and Neue Schoenhauser Strasse, perhaps also taking in the Hackesche Hoefe, a
collection of various different shops and galleries all inter-linked by a series of courtyards which
makes for a pleasant, if pricey, detour off the main street. There are lots of options for lunch
nearby and as the sun starts to set and thoughts turn to dinner, drinks and dancing, the area’s
many restaurants and bars will no doubt keep you entertained for hours. So, there is much more
to explore here than perhaps you first thought? Our advice: tick the must see boxes as early
on as possible and then set about getting to grips with the real Mitte. It’s worth it; you’ll see.
Mar – Oct 9–0
Nov – Feb 10-0
The TV Tower is 365m tall and its ball and
spike are one of the most famous symbols of
Berlin. It is a striking example of the Weimar
Republic’s attempts to demonstrate its power to
the world and an ever present reminder of those
days gone by when the East of Berlin, where it
stands, was inaccessible because of the Wall.
You can take a lift up to the top of the TV
Tower and enjoy hands down the best view prices, eg. Currywurst with a baked potato for
of Berlin. You will be dumbfounded by the €9.50. Considering the entrance fee, this is a
sheer size of this metropolis from the vista up bit steep for most people unless you plan to
here; all you can see for 40km is Berlin. The propose to your beloved here in which case I’m
Tele Cafe, the revolving restaurant, serves up sure you won’t even notice what you’re paying.
averagely rated grub for pretty exaggerated - Linda Cooke
Museum Island the city’s last great cultural heyday, they
now form the nucleus of the current revival
Mo-Su 10-18 that’s again bringing great collections from
Entry (adult/concession): €8/€4 for individual around the world to Germany’s capital.
exhibitions, €12/€6 for all of Museum Island. Unfortunately for us, that
Free entry Thu 18-22 revival isn’t quite ready yet.
www.smb.museum The Neues Museum was bombed to bits
in World War Two and won’t be opening
If you’re looking to get some High Culture through up again until the end of 2009; the Bode
those high-minded eye-holes of yours, the most Museum was also closed for refurbishment
obvious place to point them is here. Berlin is fast while this guide was being written, so we
becoming the residence of choice for the world’s couldn’t get a first hand review of it. However,
artistic and historical treasures, and the flagship what is available is still hugely impressive:
of that campaign is anchored in the Spree River. there’s ancient artefacts galore, all lovingly
The Museuminsel is home to Berlin’s plundered from their homelands by nineteenth
most prestigious cultural venues: The Altes century Berlin’s very own Indiana Joneses.
Musem, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, The Altes Museum houses pieces from
Bode Museum and Pergamon Museum, ancient Egypt and Classical Antiquity (Greece
all built between 1830 and 1920 to support and Rome), including the truly stunning, 3,500
presented and accessible, but because the
descriptions and explanations in English are
fairly limited, you might want to go for a guided or
audio tour if you really want to know what you’re
looking at and don’t read German very well.
The buildings themselves are well worth a
look architecturally, and carry a lot of history
themselves. For example, Hitler used to make
speeches from a stage erected on the steps
of the Altes Museum, to masses gathered in
the Lustgarten in front (it was paved over at
the time). When Berlin was divided after the
war, Museumsinsel fell into the Soviet zone of
control, and the exhibits were scattered: some
remained where they were and some were
allowed into the care of the Western powers, but
others were taken away to Russia or even lost
Altes Museum altogether. The current programme of restoration
includes recovery, reunion and reorganisation
year old bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt. of the collections, and therefore the museums’
Pergamon’s main draws are the Museum contents are constantly subject to change.
for Islamic Art from the Eighth to Nineteenth It’s highly recommended that you
Centuries, and the Museum of the Ancient check the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s
Near East covering the Babylonian and website (provided) or up-to-date literature
Assyrian Empires. There’s also more of the before planning your visit too thoroughly.
Classical Antiquity collection, and a lovely The attraction of free entry on Thursday
3D model of The Grand Plan for Museum evenings should also carry a note of caution:
Island’s future completed magnificence. some of the exhibitions still charge, and
The Bode Museum headlines with you’ll need to choose your preferred subjects
Byzantine Art, and support acts include carefully as it’s impossible to see all of Museum
the Sculpture Collection and Numismatic Island in one evening. The Bode Museum, for
Collection (coins and medallions). example, is massive and reliable sources of
The Altes Nationalgalerie contains ours claim that even if you ran the whole way,
three floors of paintings and sculptures it would take at least an hour to get round it all!
from the nineteenth century. Staatliche Museen zu Berlin comprises
As Museum experiences go, these exhibitions 17 museums and galleries in the
are firmly of the traditional, reverent and sombre city, of which Museum Island is the
variety: you won’t find any flashy interactive centrepiece. See website for information.
gizmos here. The displays are fantastically well - Matthew Lovegrove
Shopping in Mitte center suitable for shopping anytime of the year.
If you’re looking for a good place to shop till you As well as this mall there are several other
drop then you should most definitely travel to shopping areas offering outdoor shopping. You
Alexanderplatz and take a look at Berlin’s new- can easily spend hours in these shopping ar-
est shopping mall, Alexa, an indoor shopping eas, once there you are lured into almost every
shop just to take a peek at what lies within. Al-
exa has four floors of shops where you can buy
just about anything your heart desires. They
also have a very large food court with a wealth
of food selections and on the bottom floor there
is a mini food market and a general store.
If you aren’t up for shopping on such a
large scale then you can go around the platz
where there are many small shops selling
all sorts of unique items. Be careful when
shopping because there are several “tour-
ist” shops that overcharge for most items. The
shirts are usually the most over-priced items
within such outlets so just look around first
if you’re trying to stick to a specific budget.
Alexa shopping center - Madelyn Hill
Crepes coffee? Crap coffee!
If you find yourself in Alexanderplatz Bahnhof, costs. Literally. And don’t even think about
which is more than likely, given that it is Berlin’s complaining, they don’t speak customer service.
busiest station, you might be tempted to grab a - Kyla Manenti
bite and a caffeine-hit at one of the many food
outlets. While the lure of lower prices is strong
in such a tourist-heavy spot, it is highly advised
that you pay a bit more for your hot beverege.
Prices at Crepes Bhf. Alex are appealing
to the walk-weary, but it is worth paying a bit
extra at nearby Dunkin’ Donuts if you don’t
want a drink which tastes like it was made
with the contents of a coffee machine’s water
tank boiled with a dash of extra long-life milk.
In other words, avoid this coffee at all Perpetrators exposed
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
enough for two people to walk through together)
and this can actually be quite frightening.
Cora-Berliner-Strasse 1 As you go deeper into the memorial,
U2, S1, S2, S26 Potsdam Platz towards the centre, so the concrete seems
Information centre: 10–20 daily to close in on you and you feel as though
Admission: free someone is after you or at the very least
www.holocaust-denkmal.de watching you. In some cases, panic may even
start to set in. Perhaps this is the intention.
Created by Peter Eisenmann and unveiled One thing is certain - this is an affecting
in May 2005, the ‘fields of stelae’ is a visually reminder of one of the worst chapters in human
arresting piece of design; 2, 711 concrete history which urges us not to forget or live over
slabs each with its own foundation lie, again. If you suffer from claustrophobia, you
in the shadow of the Brandenburg Gate, might prefer to walk around the memorial in
like huge gravestones as though on a low order to appreciate it. Please remember that this
undulating hill but this is part of the effect. is a place of respect and of sombre reflection.
What makes this monument stand out from Do take care not to eat your lunch here,
the rest is that you have to interact with it, you sit on the slabs or let children play here; the
have to walk through it to begin to understand memorial is not a rest stop and there are often
the premise. You are also supposed to go guards watching out for disrespectful behaviour.
it alone (the space between the stones is not - Linda Cooke
Postfuhramt the roof there were sleeping quarters and
dressing rooms for the postal staff and the
This is a delightful piece of architecture courtyard was once home to coach houses
on Oranienburger Strasse which for the mail carriages and horse stables. The
used to be Berlin’s central post office. Postfuhramt is now a multi purpose space
During its history the building has housed which is currently running a series of exhibitions.
a postal and telegraph school, beneath - Linda Cooke
was still being used for different things. Its
demolition was scheduled to take place in
Oranienburger Strasse 54-56a April 1990 until a bunch of artists discovered
http://www.super.tacheles.de it in February of the same year and moved in.
The Kunsthaus is a pretty clear example
This glitzy strip with its bright lights is literally of the sub-culture of squatting and alternative
jumping on weekend nights. The restaurants lifestyles, which grew up after the fall of the
are full to bursting, tourists look on agog at Wall in November 1989. Now though, it is an
the hookers who line the main avenue and internationally recognised arts centre and
the Bellini lounges and cocktail bars compete receives subsidies from the government to
with each other for your custom with happy finance its varied projects. The hulking shell which
hour overkill. Slap bang in the middle of all the remains has been graffitied within an inch of its
activity and noise is the Kunsthaus Tacheles. life and it’s now home to several artists’ studios,
This six storey building was built in 1907 and a cinema, a couple of bars and gallery space.
started life as the entrance to the Friedrichstadt- Although the original spirit of individualism
Passage shopping centre. When the mall and creative abandon is all but gone, there is
went bankrupt in 1928, AEG who founded still a faint whiff of it in the air and that is what
Haus der Technik took the building over and makes this still worth a visit. When you first enter
used it as display space for their products. the building, you may feel a little uncomfortable
During the Second World War parts of the in such alien surroundings but you have nothing
building were used by the Nazis for organisation to fear here. Have a good look around, get
and administration, the fifth floor was even used absorbed by the inspired atmosphere of this
to detain French prisoners. Kunsthaus was loved institution and perhaps buy some artwork.
then bombed by the Allies during World War The experience doesn’t stop there
II and was partly destroyed but not flattened. as the installations extend out into the
After the war, part of the building was left to back yard and you can often catch
rack and ruin due to East Berlin government’s impromptu musical performances here too.
cash flow problems while the other half - Linda Cooke
Kunsthaus Tacheles, Becker’s offers a refreshing
approach to chips-in-a-tray based cuisine.
Oranienburger Strasse Choose from over 30 sauces ranging from
the exotic to the downright absurd. Some of the
Berlin’s cheap and easy on the go fast food culture popular choices include Indian curry, apple sauce,
is typified by Becker’s Fritten, a locally renowned salsa, guacamole, peanut butter, Hollandaise
outlet selling home-made chips as well as the and garlic mayo as well as your usual favourites.
ubiquitous Currywurst. A parked trailer opposite - Anthony Pearce
little something from the excellent menu.
The Flammkuchen are tasty, hearty and
Tucholskystrasse 48, Mitte definitely recommended. The bar is also
attractive, there are some stuffed animal heads
You enter the front door of this corner establishment on the wall and coloured candles in yellow, green
and are met at once with a black curtain around and red flicker among the bottles of spirits and
the doorway, presumably used to keep the crockery in cabinets to create a romantic mood.
heat in during the often freezing Berlin winter. Service is quick but could do with a smile every
Once you have twirled through the now and then. They make their own Gluehwein
fabric, you find yourself in relaxed here which is cloudy and orange as opposed to
and tremendously inviting environs. the more traditional red and costs €3.50. A cup of
The feel of this place is alt traditional and you coffee will cost you around €1.60 and a warming
will find a good mix of people frequenting the hot lemon with honey will set you back €2.20.
loungy ornate sofas, the small window tables - Linda Cooke
and perched on stools at the bar. Trendy young
people often sit alongside forty-somethings
and families and the atmosphere is friendly.
It won’t take long before the delicious
comforting scents of traditional south German
cooking emanating from the kitchen begin
to make your tummy rumble and you may
have to capitulate early on and order a
Amrit you will be well looked after and if it’s a speedy
Indian cuisine meal you require, you will not be disappointed.
Oranienburger Strasse 45 That said, it is also fine to linger on after your
www.amrit.de meal and as this is a busy restaurant, you will be
left to your conversation while the staff attend
Amrit is situated directly opposite the Kunsthaus to the constant flow of customers who will fill
Tacheles and boy is it an eye-catching sight in all the tables before you can say Rogan Jhosh.
itself. Brightly coloured fabric awnings and large The food here is typical Indian dishes
statues of Indian gods invite you into what feels ostensibly cooked on a big scale and as
like a sumptuous cave fitted out with stylish leather already mentioned the portion sizes are
chairs and what must be at least fifty tables. rather large. Beware the starter platter for
You can stop by at bustling Amrit just two, it is served on a mountain of salad and
for the happy hour cocktails which start at comes with enough food to fill two people.
€4.00 to begin your night or you can settle A meal for two based on a shared
in for a feast of very generous proportions. starter and two main courses with
The staff and the service are incredibly quick, no alcohol will cost you around €36.
maybe a little worryingly so, but nevertheless - Linda Cooke
great fabric and although some of the items
S-Bahn Hackescher Markt are pricey, the workmanship is indisputable.
www.hackesche-hoefe.com There are also some really unusual items like
one-off coats, shirts and skirts so if you’re into
If you are travelling on a budget avert your your clothes, this is definitely worth a look.
eyes now. It’s so easy to spend money at the Hof seven is the more romantic Rosenhoefe,
Hackesche Hoefe, it’s almost criminal. This is a cute warren of shops set amid a sunken rose
essentially a shopping centre based around garden. For bath lovers, try 1000 & 1 Seife
eight prettily restored courtyards with some www.1001seife.de for all manner of speciality
cafes, galleries and entertainment venues within. soaps and gorgeous bathroom accessories.
If you do happen to have a little spare money, If you are looking for some good quality
you can indulge in a little retail therapy here. clothing try Brandy & Melville, they are experts
Hof one is lovely, take care to check out the in classic cotton pieces, or Stones for good
Art Nouveau tiles, designed by August Endell, quality men’s clothing. MAC Cosmetics have a
which adorn the facades. This is also home to little boutique here, as do Brille 54 for glasses
the Chamaeleon Variete, a venue which now and sunglasses and there is also an H&M.
hosts comedians and singers but which used Just outside the Hoefe, on Sophienstrasse,
to be a glamorous ballroom in the twenties. Johanna Graf-Petzoldt’s shop, Erzgebirgskunst
Berliner Klamotten is shop space which Original is very pretty and crammed full
allows new designers to showcase their work of wonderfully crafted wooden figurines
and there are some really nice pieces here, the which are timeless in their appeal.
clothes are made to an excellent standard using - Linda Cooke
Eating Out Fair Trade Style vibe and this system really works. Please
don’t take advantage of the good spirit of this
You go out for dinner, you enjoy your meal enterprise and stand at the bar refilling your
and linger over coffee and good conversation wine glass until you keel over. Enjoy the
until the end of the evening when you ask for
the bill, right? Nope. Apart from €2 which
you put down to pay for your glass (which
you can then fill with any of the drinks on
offer – normally red/white wine or sparkling
alternatives) there is nothing to pay here.
The idea is that what you pay is up to you
so you are free to contribute exactly what
you thought the meal was worth. Each of the
fair trade restaurants is different and in some Inside Weinerei
places you will need to reserve a table. This experience for what it is and spread the word.
is upmarket food, the clientèle are well heeled, Try Weinerei, Zionkirchplatz, Mitte
the restaurants themselves each have a unique - Linda Cooke
Prenzlauer Berg was the Kreuzberg of the GDR, where intellectuals, artists and musicians
congregated to spice up the grey surroundings of East Berlin where any semblance of freedom,
whether it was a three minute punk song or a poem scrawled in a notepad, meant the whole
world. A wealth of artistic output was produced here during the 1980s as the subculture was
closely linked with the social reform movement teetering on the edge of legality. It goes without
saying that the Stasi were also prevalent here and sometimes they were all one and the same.
Since the fall of the Wall, Prenzlauer Berg has lost its gritty edge somewhat but is nonetheless
an attractive place to visit, full of trendy boutiques and bars, students, young families and the newly
renovated buildings offer a pleasant surrounding for bars and cafes which veer between hip, trendy
and experimental. The neighbourhood has a history ranging from squalid tenement blocks in the
19th century, wartime Germany when artist Käthe Kollwitz lived and worked here through to the
days of uncertainty and hope in 1989 and new beginnings in the 1990s/2000s.
To reach Prenzlauer Berg from Alexanderplatz you need to take the U-Bahn line U2
towards Pankow. It was at Alexanderplatz on 4th November 1989 that the East German
author Christa Wolff and others spoke here in front of 500,000 (some say it was as
many as a million) fellow demonstrators appealing for reform and travel restrictions to be
lifted with the slogan ‘We are the people.’ Less than a month later the Wall was down.
Jump off the U-Bahn at Senefelderplatz and wander up Kollwitzstrasse (there’s an interesting
children’s playground along here which encourages the kids to construct their own play
items from various materials) to see the gentrified bar and cafe scene on Kollwitzplatz with its
statue of Kathe Kollwitz. Turn down Knaackstrasse to go past the impressive Kulturbrauerei
which now serves as a nightlife and cultural venue after its former life as a brewery.
For a look around the quirky backstreets of Prenzlauer Berg you can go round the ‘LSD’
(nothing to do with drugs, don’t worry!) district of Lychener Strasse, Schliemannstrasse
and Dunckerstrasse up to Helmholtzplatz which has an undeveloped natural tone with a
mix of the old East Berlin grey and an airy residential feel. Back at Eberswalder Strasse
grab a portion of the ubiquitous Currywurst at Konnopke’s Imbiss under the arches.
Nip down Kastanienallee to go hipster- against one of the stalls. In winter, the cheap
spotting in the funky little shops and cafes. Glühwein is a must to keep out the cold as you
Turn right down Oderberger Strasse to find root through junk to find some real treasures.
some hidden gems. When the weather is
pleasant small second hand boutiques flaunt
their wares out on the streets and there’s a
special waffle house, Kauf dich glücklich.
If you’re wandering around on a Sunday then
the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark can be found
at the end of the street behind the Friedrich-
Ludwig Jahn Sportpark. You can pick up
all sorts of knickknacks here; old bicycles,
obscure vinyl, the contents of a shed. You may
even spot a portrait of Erich Honecker resting Kastanienallee
VOPO RECORDS the Germans (especially any that feature a
certain gentleman with ‘Hoff’ in his name)
Danziger Strasse 31 (U-Bahnhof Eberswalder and realise that they’ve made some cracking
Strasse) rock songs, especially bands from the former
Mo-Fr 12-20, Sa 12-16 East Germany who did a hell of a lot more
to bring the wall down than the Hoffmeister
Music fans of the world unite, there is still ever did. You can buy an album from here
hope. This legendary record shop, which that was originally conceived, recorded
celebrates its 15th birthday this year, is a life and played around this area in the 1980s.
saver if you’ve been hoping to pick up some There is a mix of punk and rock bands from
quality German rock and punk as a souvenir. East Germany, West Germany and the present
Throw away all of your preconceptions about day either on CD or vinyl and if you don’t feel
like experimenting with German music history
there are more conventional rock, pop and hip-
hop sections. Or just go for it and get a com-
pilation album- you won’t be disappointed. The
owner is always willing to help with any ques-
tions or offer recommendations and there’s
a selection of band t-shirts, badges, patches
and music DVDs displayed as well. Prices
aren’t dirt cheap but if you’re after something in
particular that you can’t get in Saturn then it’s
worth every penny and let’s face it, this place
has ten times more character than a soulless
CD megastore back at Alexanderplatz.
Look out for the logo - Katie Thompson
KONNOPKE’S IMBISS know. The term ‘curry’ is, at first, misleading and
all you curry fiends will be rather perturbed when
Schönhauser Allee 44a- under the U-Bahn a sliced sausage covered in tomato ketchup and
arches (U-Bahnhof Eberswalder Strasse) curry powder is plonked in front of you. Never
Mo-Fr 6-20, Sa 12-19 fear, after one mouthful you’ll soon want more.
Konnopke’s Imbiss is as legendary as Currywurst
The Currywurst is a Berlin institution and itself and is regarded as offering the best one in
although threatened by the equally chomp- the city. You can’t go wrong at €1.70 a portion
worthy Döner kebab it is something you find all and feel free to add chips and bread or even a
over Berlin and you cannot possibly leave until beer as extras. Please don’t try to take the bread
you’ve had one. They check at customs, you basket with you; it’s connected to the counter
by a piece of string and it will be embarrassing.
At peak times it feels like most of Berlin
and their dogs have descended on the place
but there is space to stand at high tables and
if you’re lucky you can get a seat in a small
covered area. Berliners tend to eat on the
go so there are no home comforts here but
you are at a good vantage point to watch the
world go by and for them to watch you get
tomato sauce all over your face. Guten Appetit.
- Katie Thompson
Flohmarkt am Mauerpark sets, furniture, old records, books, clothes,
shoes, accessories, posters and artwork, food
Bernauer Strasse 63-64, 13355 Berlin and drink and much more. Half the fun is in
U2 Eberswalder Strasse – the market is just a imagining where the discarded pieces have
short walk from here. come from and what stories are attached to
Winter 08.00 – sunset them and in this case the stories could very well
Summer 08.00 - 18.00 be set in East Berlin before the fall of the Wall.
The market seems to draw a fairly young
For all you bargain hunters out there, the Sunday and artistic crowd and this could be down to
Fleamarket at Mauerpark is a pretty fun place to the sheer inspiration of the variety in the mar-
spend an afternoon and quite possibly a few of ket itself. Ribbons, buttons, fabrics and sewing
your hard earned euros. Established in 2004, machines are everywhere, there are quite a few
there’s at least a mile’s worth of stalls for you to people selling record players and the books
rummage your way through and arguably you range from Bertolt Brecht to Goethe and from
won’t find a more diverse or bizarre collection children’s annuals to German cookery recipes.
of second hand stuff anywhere else in the city. This is the place to come if you want to get
Flohmarkt am Mauerpark has it all: crockery yourself decked out for less than a tenner;
especially pertinent if you have just arrived in
Berlin to discover just how cold it is outside -
you can pick yourself up a hat, scarf, gloves and
even a pair of furry boots for next to nothing if
you look hard enough and barter with confidence
where appropriate. Alternatively, for those of
you who are looking forward you will be able to
find some unusual t-shirts and extraordinarily
cool sunglasses to carry you into spring.
There are lots of quirky and interesting
things to look at, plenty of boxes to sift through
and of course lots of engaging characters
to meet en route. You can warm up with
Gluehwein and there are stalls offering cakes residents keep turning out their cupboards,
and biscuits. If you haven’t already done your closets and drawers and consequently, there
grocery shopping, you may be able to pick are some real gems to be had here. You will find
up some fresh fruit and vegetables here. what you are looking for and more. If you arrive
If you have recently moved into a new home towards the end of the day you will be more
and want to find a few essential bits and pieces, likely to convince the stall owner to give you
you might like to try the fleamarket as there is that pair of shoes for the price you had in mind!
a wealth of furniture, hardware and household Have fun digging!
items on offer. Prenzlauer Berg’s ever changing - Linda Cooke
Kauf dich gluecklich There are two rooms of mis-matched tables,
chairs and sofas where you can relax to the
45, Oderberger Strasse sounds of glitchy electro or more tuneful numbers
Mo-Fri 12-1, Sat/Sun 10-1 from the likes of Bowie. Several shelves display
further purchasable novelties from jewellery to
This quirky waffle and coffee house is just a strange miniature animals. Framed pictures of
short walk from Eberswalder Strasse tube flowers and rural landscapes hang on the walls in
station and sits amongst some of the most a sort of casual stab at detourned kitsch style. A
trendy and offbeat clothes outlets in the area. second room sits to the right of the main seating
Bullet holes pepper the building above the area offering additional seating and lounging
manufactured scruffiness of the wafflehouse space, with access to the fittingly eccentric
fascia, a sinister reminder of the city’s bathrooms (complete with carpet and sofas).
tortured history. Yet in this area the carefully If you are particularly taken with the style of
styled wear-and-tear look seems to almost Kauf dich gluecklich, there is a sister fashion
compliment the ravaged remains of old Berlin. store at 56 Kastanienallee, just around the corner.
Step inside to a candybox interior where an - Kyla Manenti
assortment of ice creams are encased in a
counter covered with jars of toys. Here is an eatery
where you can buy a novelty elephant waterpistol
with your cappuccino. Indeed, the name itself
literally translates to “buy to make yourself
happy”, and as it happens there is plenty on
sale. Even the furniture is available to purchase.
The waffles come with an assortment of
toppings including chocolate, cream, caramel,
and the house favourite – hot cherries.
Prices start at around €2.50 and if you fancy
something different there are several other food
choices such as soup, crepes and ice creams.
Eberswalder Strasse and the surrounding rails of bat-wing jumpers, faux-fur coats and
area is a hub of retro chic, with furniture, geeky tanks-tops, or rummaging through
clothing and knickknack boutiques galore. piles of woolly hats and vintage sunnies.
While second-hand style can often be Expect to pay around €20 for a pair of
thrifty and cheap, don’t get too comfortable. technicolour leggings and €85 for a bomber jacket.
Sadly, here it has been sufficiently tapped into - Kyla Manenti
and exploited for prices to be unnecessarily
high. However, this is not to say that a
bargain can’t be found, and there are many
treasures to be had in these coves of kitsch.
Hours can be wiled away flicking through
Once a workers’ district after its formation in 1920, Friedrichshain is now an alternative culture
stronghold in the city after the gentrification of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg. It does not have the
sights that other prettier districts have but this run-down Kiez boasts a gritty charm, experimentation
and solid Stalinist architecture. It is also a chance to veer off the usual tourist tracks to see a bit
of the ‘wild East.’ Amongst the usual stream of new up-and-coming bars and restaurants, Berlin’s
artistic and cultural troupe have also made the move to Friedrichshain, together with the students
and the slackers, creating a vibrant scene around Boxhagener Platz and Simon-Dach-Strasse and
little pockets of subculture crop up in this area just waiting to be found by the inquisitive tourist.
Take the U5 from Alexanderplatz (towards Hönow) and get off at Frankfurter Tor to be confronted
by the imposing architecture of the former Stalinallee housing project. This monstrosity was built
during the 1950s to showcase the grandeur of the GDR (which, let’s face it, needed everything it
could get) but it was not without its malcontents as the 1953 workers’ uprising started here. It is now
a listed building, protected from graffiti and its mainly elderly residents are proud of their address.
Turn down Warschauer Strasse and note the irony of a McDonald’s nestling amidst Stalin’s
building blocks, firmly establishing that capitalism has taken over. Why not grab a beer from
the shop next door and join the Friedrichshain ethos as you explore the neighbourhood. It is
also around Frankfurter Tor that many scenes from the film ‘The Lives of Others’ were filmed,
particularly the unprotected graffiti covered facade around the other side of McDonald’s.
Go left down Boxhagener Strasse and explore little shops and snack outlets. The sidestreets
themselves have their own little stories to tell as Mainzer Strasse, further down on the left, was where the
police cleared out some of the last squats and alternative Wohngemeinschaften in Berlin in 1990 much
to the indignance of Friedrichshain residents and the riot that followed between 4,000 members of the
police and 500 protestors on 14th November 1990 has reached mythical status in the squatter scene.
Turn right down Gärtnerstrasse until you reach Boxhagener Platz. Punks
and bottle-collectors congregate around Boxi (don’t worry, they’re completely
harmless) and there’s a Trödelmarkt (flea market) here on Sundays.
The surrounding streets of Gabriel-Max-Strasse, Wühlischstrasse, Krossener
Strasse Kopernikussstrasse are worth exploring, particularly the Sticker Museum
at Dirschauer Strasse 16 for a bit of an off-the-wall (or should we say, on the wall)
exhibition and there is a mix of new business, shops and galleries in the area.
Back on Warschauer Strasse you can go and see the East Side Gallery or
you can rejoin the public transport network on the S-Bahn or the U-Bahn.
Karl-Marx-Allee 140 - U-Bahnhof Frankfurter Tor
This is a rock and film orientated bar which
can get busy later on so it’s best to get there
in good time. There are film posters on the
walls and the furniture is an odd mix of old
sewing machines and cinema seats. The
atmosphere’s good for a chat with friends
before moving on to other bars or clubs.
Al Gasali chicken as well as the falafel, and add
salad and sesame yoghurt for extra flavour.
Krossener Strasse 21/Boxhagener Platz There’s room to sit inside and a selection of
drinks (no alcohol for obvious reasons) on offer,
Try this Syrian snack outlet as an alternative try Bionade, a popular health-orientated soft drink
to kebabs and currywurst where you can
get a tasty falafel im Brot for just €2. The made from different varieties of fruits and berries.
menu is vast and you can try halloumi and
Pizza Dach place. With limited seating outside it is often
full but it offers good quality pizza at ridiculous
Simon-Dach-Strasse 12 prices (around €2.50). Grab yourself a place
on the bench and wash your pizza down with
For a quick bite to eat to soak up the alcohol a quick beer. If you want to sit down properly,
that will surely follow, check out this little snack try the other one on Wühlischstrasse 32.
OK, so it’s not as space-themed as we’d like
but it’s still got science fiction figures in glass
cases and red lamps which add to a chilled out
atmosphere where everyone piles into the back
room to chat. There are different DJs nightly
(Tuesdays are impressive). One tip: don’t go too
mad on the cocktails, the Zombies here are lethal!
All copy: Katie Thompson
Keep your eyes open for alternative venues project offering various types of food to
off the main drag, particularly around friends and visitors) or a Soliparty (a night
Boxhagener Strasse, where it looks like out with a political conscience) and a chance
someone’s living room but is actually a to speak to the locals. If you stumble across
cultural venue and cafe/bar. Don’t be afraid one of these you get the feeling that you’re
to go in and sample the local Szene where taking part in what makes Friedrichshain
you could be part of a film night or music special. We can’t possibly give anything
performance and if you’re lucky you might away, you’ll just have to have a look around...
be rewarded with a Volksküche (a community - Katie Thompson
This cavernous tavern, with its dim lighting
and smokey rock theme is not especially
particular to Berlin. But if you are looking for
a drink in a warm, laid-back environment, set
to a soundtrack of classic, alternative and room. This is a transitory space between the
new rock music then RockZ is worth a look in. fuzzy cosiness of the bar area and the cooler,
The name itself is a not-so-subtle nod to the lighter back room. Here the customary jukebox
Roxy clubs which have punctuated various sits amongst sofas and tables, the walls are
moments in rock history, and the walls are appropriately deep purple and a giant lizard
plastered with iconic record sleeves from clings, guarding the second archway. The back
the likes of Peter Gabriel, Queen, T-Rex and room offers the opportunity for some fun and
Zappa. Guitars are suspended from the ceiling games with a fussball table, electronic darts
and a slightly dodgy plaster-and-paint topless board and breezy palm-tree dotted wall-scape.
woman hangs before the archway to the middle Drink prices are normal, with the average
beer costing between two and three euros,
and a spirit mixer selling for around five.
Smoking is allowed and there is no
discernable designated area so non-smokers
should take note. Clientelle is a mix of
older, leather and denim clad biker types,
young rockers and general in-betweeners.
This is certainly not a slick, trendy hangout
but the grubby, unashamedly cheesy clichéd
theme gives it a charm and lends itself to the
reliably comfortable and fun atmosphere.
- Kyla Manenti
Hatch Sticker Museum work in multiple locations. Hatch also hosts
guest exhibitions of Berlin street art, like that
Dirschauer Str 16, (Warschauer Str U/S Bahn) supporting the Skateistan project in Afghanistan.
Open: We-Fri 14-20, Sa-Su 14-18 It’s not just about Berlin though: Oli receives
Entry: Free. donations from across the globe. For example,
American Ed Templeton – pro-skater and street
Asticker museum. It’s a museum with stickers. In it. artist – is a good example of the crossed-
BUT! Read on, please, because this place over cultures that lead to sticker art: he now
really is worth a look, especially if you’re runs a clothing and skate accessory company
interested in the related sub-cultures of street called Toymachine, and uses street art styles
art and skateboarding with their associated in his sticker advertising. Reef and Carhartt,
music and fashion scenes. Stickers and
sticker art are very much a part of it all.
For a start, they’re everywhere in Berlin: on
signposts and posterboards, in pubs and public
transport, they’re impossible to miss yet easy
to ignore. The purpose of the Hatch Sticker
Museum in Friedrichshain is to increase the
appreciation of an overlooked art form, and
it’s the only institution of its kind ON EARTH!
At first glance, the exhibition doesn’t look
terribly impressive. It’s a small-ish room with
picture frames on the walls, each containing a both major brands, have also used street
themed selection of adhesive artwork. Many artists to design their logos and ads, and in
are promoting a clothing brand, a skateboard turn are involved in funding street art projects.
company or a musical act; some carry funny or You may also recognise Shepard Fairey’s
political messages; others are purely for art. At image of Barack Obama (‘Hope’). It’s based on
the time of writing, there were no descriptions his earlier street art depicting Lithuanian wrestler,
or any explanation of any of the pieces, Andre ‘The Giant’ Roussimoff, which used
but the museum’s curator, an exceptionally the slogan ‘OBEY Giant’. OBEY has also now
friendly and approachable chap named become a clothing brand, and the Obama image
Oli, was on hand to answer any questions made it on to the front page of The Guardian.
and explain the culture behind the stickers. Hatch has been open since April 2008, and
If you’ve been in Berlin for more than when we visited in December it was still very much
about two-and-a-half minutes, you’ll probably a work in progress, with new additions constantly
have noticed that there’s a lot of graffiti about arriving. Nicely, you can stick your own message
the place. Often associated with counter- to his guest wall in the foyer before you leave,
cultural politics, squatters, skaters and/or Hip- hopefully with a deeper understanding of one of
Hop, it’s been a part of the city for decades. Berlin’s most interesting underground art forms.
Stickers enable artists to reproduce their - Matthew Lovegrove
Although the days have passed since Kreuzberg was a shining light of popular protest,
punk rock and subculture, it has somehow managed to retain its charm, its character, and
most importantly its identity since the fall of the Wall. Surrounded by the Wall on three fronts,
Kreuzberg as the the last outpost of the West attracted the young, the disaffected and the
disillusioned – those magnetised to the Wall, the axis from which the West and East hinged.
After suffering substantial damage during the Second World War, the area was was plagued by
cheap housing and poor conditions particularly in the East. It quickly became the final destination of
those emigrating to West Germany. The Turkish community, which descended upon West Germany
en masse in the 1960s and 1970s, remains vividly present in Kreuzberg today - particularly in
Kottbusser Tor, the district in which the Döner Kebab was born in 1971. Indeed a consensus in
2006 suggested that over thirty per cent of Kreuzberg’s population remain non-German citizens.
Panoramic view of the Spree with Friedrichshain on the left and Kreuzberg to the right
Although the Berlin Wall played a pivotal part in the development of post-War Kreuzberg, whilst
virtually encircled the area was never actually divided. To travel between the east and west
districts today, however, would give a far different impression - the contrast is quite incredible.
Despite the West being more aesthetically pleasing, even with its own charms, it pales massively
in comparison to the ever vibrant eastern areas of Kreuzberg. The punks and the poets of the
east have long since relocated but their influence remains to be seen in everyday Kreuzberg. The
seminal punk club SO36, (named after the old postal code for east Kreuzberg - still affectionately
used), has survived all this time. A venue once graced by the likes of David Bowie and Iggy Pop, it
remains true to its punk roots and also hosts a series of gay and lesbian nights on a regular basis.
The aforementioned Kottbusser Tor is an area drenched in graffiti, posters and stickers, and is
populated by fast and easy Turkish, Vietnamese and Chinese fast food outlets. Second hand
clothes shops that offer a range of cheap vintage Berliner fashion are commonly dispersed
between the said restaurants, bars, markets and general convenience stores. Although Kottbusser
Tor and its surrounding areas are no longer the most lively, or indeed popular, areas of Berlin
today, the relaxed and exceptionally friendly eclectic venues attract local and international visitors.
Schlesisches Tor, another outpost of the West, is a more lively albeit dispersed area of nightlife within
Kreuzberg, which boasts one of Berlin’s most well known and popular late night venues, Watergate.
Trinkteufel beer is cheap at €2,50 for half a litre and the
atmosphere on the right night is electric.
Adalbertstrasse 18 - Anthony Pearce
Located a stone’s throw from Kottbusser
Tor U-Bahn, Trinkteufel is a bar steeped in
SO36 traditions. The exterior is covered in
graffiti and interior is draped in heavy rock
and gothic paraphernalia, as well as punk
and OI! posters stickers that are plastered all
over the walls and toilets. The music switches
between metal and punk seemingly depending
on who is managing the bar at the time. The
Cake The atmosphere inside is jubilant and the dé-
cor is simple yet funky (think 1970’s pysch-
Oranienstrasse 31-U1 Kottbusser Tor edelic print on the walls in brown and orange
Schlesische Strasse 32-U1 Schlesisches Tor and red and white leather diner banquettes to
www.cake-bar.de perch on). The music is an eclectic mix ranging
from jazz to swing and from latin beats to soul.
Squeezed between a shop selling all man- The small dancefloor fills up quickly as the night
ner of random tat and funky clothing outlet progresses so you may find you will have to dance
Cherry Bomb, on up-and-coming Oranien- on the spot or in your seat but hey, its worth it.
strasse in grungy Kreuzberg, CAKE seems to CAKE is essentially a cocktail bar and you
take on a life force of its own after dark. You can sample their specials such as the Long
can’t miss its bold neon sign in glowing red Island Ice Tea (€7,50) from the Power Cocktail
which beckons you in and you certainly won’t range or try a house Cake Dream which fea-
miss the music which seems to shake (rat- tures Absinthe, Macaruja syrup and apple juice
tle and roll) the whole street on a good night. (€6,50) or a Cake Light with Crème de Cassis,
Lemon Juice, Grenadine, Cream and Pineap-
ple Juice. Other quirky numbers include the
Oranienstrasse and the Lebowski. It’s not all
cocktails though, the bar has a wide selection
of tipples including a good vodka list, beers, te-
quilas, sekt and tabu absinthe. This is a small
venue so get there early to bag some seats.
Schlesische Strasse hosts the more laid back par-
ent bar, a traditional, low-lit European cafe with an
eclectic jukebox and DJ sets at weekends. The
CAKE cocktails are of course available here too.
Cake on Oranienstrasse - Linda Cooke
Zur Fetten Ecke German beer. The background music is usually
alternative and adventurous - expect a DJ to
Schlesische Strasse 16 kick off a set around 11pm most nights playing
everything from indie alternatives to down
Zur Fetten Ecke is a dingy, burgundy shaded tempo electro. Opens late most nights (and that
smoky Berlin bar with bags of life. Choose from is Berlin ‘late’, you probably won’t be turfed out
a range of spirits kept neatly above the bar in until around breakfast time some mornings.)
what resembles a Victorian pharmaceuticals - Anthony Pearce
cabinet, or pay around €3 for half a litre of good
Wendel A range of organic cheeses and breads are
available, alternatively, there are several pasta
Schlesische Strasse 42 dishes and toasted sandwiches to choose from.
Mo-Fri 12-2, Fri-Sat until 4, Su 10.30 At night the atmosphere becomes more vibrant
www.wendel.nstp.de and Wendel often hosts arty amateur film-mak-
ers or eclectic Djs to entertain the punters.
This cosy, chilled-out bar is located on a long On Sundays, according to Berlin tradition,
traffic island opposite Schlesisches Tor tube sta- Fruehstueck (breakfast) is offered. This includes
tion. With a range of fruity teas, frothy coffees and snacks (croissants, toast) and larger meals with
hot chocolates, this is a great place to kick back salami, cheese, olives and sausages. Break-
in the afternoon. The food selection is rustic, but fast prices start at €2.50 and work up to €13.
not ideal for those looking for something hearty. The relaxed atmosphere of this joint is indulged
by the plush furnishings and mood lighting. Vel-
vety sofas and comfortable armchairs hug long
low tables which glow in the warmth of tapered
candle light. There is ample seating and socket
availability which means that anyone with a laptop
can take advantage of the free Wifi connectivity.
The white walls are covered with stripes
of black paint in an assortment of shapes
and the speakers play a mix of mellow and
more upbeat tunes from edgy artists includ-
ing Klaxons, Devendra Banhart and Le Tigre.
If you are looking to make a night of it head
on to nearby Lux club where fluorescent lighting
and cool-kids are a-go-go. Alternatively, on the
other side of Wendel to Lux you will find Burger
Meister, where the chilli cheese burger is well
worth a try, and reasonably priced at just €3.40.
- Kyla Manenti
Adhering more closely to the paradigm of West Berlin, west Kreuzberg or SW61, with its
high street shops, trendy bars and up market restaurants, is a cleaner, more aesthetically
pleasing alternative to the east. Bergmann Strasse (not far from Gneisenaustrasse U-
Bahn) is the epicentre of west Kreuzbergian nightlife - an upbeat, relatively expensive,
more mainstream alternative to the above – a street flooded with restaurants to suit all
tastes. The Marheinecke Markethalle, is a modern western indoor Market, mainly consisting
of fast food kiosks, is located next to the more authentic feeling outdoor Market. Despite
the overall accessible and trendy vibe prevalent in west Kreuzberg, in typical Berlin
fashion it manages to produce a host of idiosyncratic art shops, bars and book stores.
Whilst Mitte and Museum Island are home to most of Berlin’s packaged treasures, if you
are looking to absorb culture in a more traditional fashion than the SO36 experience, west
Kreuzberg is always a good bet. The area is also home to a few monumentally significant
sites including the Topography of Terrors, the Jewish Museum, and Checkpoint Charlie.
- Anthony Pearce
Another Country return any book you purchased from there and
you will be refunded with all but €1.50 of your
Riemannstrasse 7 (U7 Gneisenaustrasse) money. On top of this the store offers late night
Tue-Fri 11-20, Sat-Sun 12-18 (or until the last book clubs, film nights on Tuesdays and food
customer leaves on event nights.) on Friday and once a month a ‘fantasy cellar’.
Expect a relaxed, cosy atmosphere and most
Another Country is a charming English lan- likely empty wine bottles from the night before.
guage book store on Riemannstrasse 7, near- The staff are friendly and happy to assist you
est to Gneisenaustrasse U-Bahn. Offering a with any query you might have. Closed Mon.
host of fiction, from sci-fi to the classics, there Open Tue – Fri. 11am-8pm, Sat-Sun 12 – 6, or
is also a wide range of poetry and non fiction. until the last customer leaves on event nights.
Notably, the store also operates as a library - - Anthony Pearce
Checkpoint Charlie Given its monumental significance, there-
U-Bahn Kochstrasse fore, Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most
popular tourist destinations in central Berlin
One of eight gateways between East and - and it shows. Sadly falling into the realm of
West Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie remains by the tacky, replicas of the U.S guardhouse and
far the most famous. Used for Allies and non- the world famous ‘You are now leaving the
Germans passing between the two Berlins, American Sector’ sign have been erected.
the Checkpoint was immortalised in October Whilst the museum Haus am Checkpoint Char-
1961 when Soviet and U.S tanks squared lie is overpriced, although very interesting,
up against each other at this very site with the site itself remains well worth a quick visit.
the world on red alert fearful of all out war. - Anthony Pearce
The Stasi Museum is just out of the centre in Lichtenberg, which is a working class district made up
of old tenements and Plattenbauten. Most of the outlying Eastern districts are like this, including the
enormous GDR housing projects of Marzahn, Hellersdorf and Hohenschönhausen, where post-reuni-
fication malaise has made this expanse of blocks of flats and shopping centres poor and unattractive.
It’s even worth a trip to these areas, if only to realise that while you’ve been walking the trendy streets
and frequenting the coolest bars in the best districts, this is Berlin for approximately 255,000 people.
Ruschestrasse 103 (U-Bahnhof Magdalenen- to preserve a person’s odour in jars for sniffer
strasse) dogs to detect and the museum itself has plenty
Mo-Fr: 11-18, Sa/Su/public holidays: 14-19 of such wacky surveillance techniques on show.
This is where it all happened. It gives
Serving as the headquarters for the East Ger- you the sense that you are standing
man secret police, the Stasi (or Staatssicher- somewhere where history was made.
heitsdienst), this grey, depressing building was Inside, Ostalgie buffs will love the kitschy east-
where all orders for surveillance, arrest and any ern bloc decor and history fans will be interested in
number of other terrifying things emanated from. walking around Stasi boss, Erich Mielke’s office.
The Stasi was made up of various agents It is like walking into another world that seems so
who followed every footstep of someone’s life. alien now that we can barely imagine that it ever
Even normal people could work as inform- existed, yet the Stasi relentlessly kept its eyes
ers, snooping around after their neighbours and ears on East Berlin barely 20 years ago.
and friends and reporting their whereabouts All in all, it’s a mix of the sinister and the
and whatever they had been doing. It is esti- comic, with prison vans and phone taps set
mated that 2.4 million people were spied upon to the backdrop of retro light fixtures and
by an institution of 91,000 employees and busts of Karl Marx. There’s also a paternos-
300,000 informants (Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter). ter for added novelty and no, you can’t go in it.
Thousands of files on GDR citizens were kept - Katie Thompson
here, with the Stasi organisation throughout
East Germany filling 125 miles of shelf space
with information on its citizens. Once the or-
ganisation collapsed and after a demonstration
on 15th January 1990, former East Germans
have been allowed to look at their files, many
with interesting and often devastating results.
The main building of the headquarters has
been turned into a museum and historical centre
and for only €4 (€3 for concessions) it’s a rea-
sonable price for such a unique and outlandish
collection. Only a state this paranoid would think The former Stasi headquarters
The Trabant lector’s item and symbol of East Berlin. Derided
and desired on an equal level they are now
If you had to wait up to 18 years for a car, you’d affectionately seen as an eastern bloc Brum,
want a good one, right? You’d want at least a Bat- pottering and tooting about (now with different
mobile or something, but in the GDR all you were engines) and you’ll spot one eventually. If you
able to get was one state-owned model which fancy a retro afternoon, go on the Trabi Safari
clearly had issues on the production line. The where you can take a guided tour around Ber-
much-derided Trabant (the translation is ‘satel- lin behind the wheel of one of these beasts.
lite’ or ‘fellow traveller,’ ironic as you could bare- - Katie Thompson
ly travel anywhere from the GDR) was basically
an engine surrounded by fibre glass and card-
board with barely enough room to fit one person
in, never mind a whole family. This sought-after
little car gave you just that little bit of extra free-
dom in a country where it was severely lacking.
After achieving cult status by their ubiquity just
after the Wall came down, the plethora of jokes
about their unreliability and nostalgia mixed
with the Westerners’ ideal of communist cool,
the Trabi has become a tourist institution, col- Trabant mural at East Side Gallery
DDR Museum Sit! Watch telly in a replica 1970s living room!
Read actual period books from the shelves,
Mo-Su 10-20, Sa 10-22 and raid the actual period drinks cabinet!
Admission: €5.50 (€3.50 concession) Ogle at photographs of the holiday
nudist beaches! See genuine communist
Fun and family-oriented, this is a modern boobs, bottoms and bollocks!
museum with loads of entertaining interactive Hiss and boo at the Stasi, as you pretend
bits and bobs to play about with while you learn to spy on people though a fake TV monitor!
about life in East Germany. There’s very little Cheer as you read about the people storming
in the way of political history here, no lists of their headquarters in 1990, demanding
names and dates. The emphasis is instead access to secret information on them!
on the everyday lives of citizens in the DDR. Then go for a pint and get on with your day.
Sit in a Trabi, and pretend to drive The DDR museum is right in the middle
it! Complete with rolling in-car film of of town, close to many of Mitte’s main
the city and rubbish sound effects! attractions and is strongly recommended!
Try on government-issue fashion! - Matthew Lovegrove
Squats or Hausbesetzungen have, particularly cinemas and art galleries as much or even more
since the fall of the Wall, become an ever so than they do as places of free residence.
present and controversial feature of Berlin The squats, like much of Berlin’s alternative
life. Although squatting in Berlin can be most scene, are friendly and welcoming despite their
clearly traced to Cold War Kreuzberg, during its often abrasive feel. Whilst they are hardly money
politically active heyday, in modern Berlin most making organisations, they aim to generate
squats are based in the old East - Mitte and enough revenue to continue existence. With the of
Prenzlauer Berg in particular. The fall of the Wall exception of Tacheles, located on Oranienburger
and the ensuing influx of East Berliners to the Straße, which is the most prominent and
West resulted in an abundance of abandoned famous of all Berlin squats (see page 887),
buildings in the East. People who were they are relatively difficult to locate - even if
unwilling or indeed unable to pay rent pounced you are looking. Squat events are sometimes
and the squatting scene forever imposed advertised but by no means universally
itself on Berlin’s collective consciousness. and certainly not in the traditional sense.
Eighteen years on, those squats that have Köpi, one of the most famous and radically
survived exist, at first glance, as anarchic left wing squats, located on Köpenicker Strasse
communes run by the people for the people. 137, exists as a perfect example of the peculiar
For one reason or another, however, these and often turbulent existence of squats in
squats have become almost universally Berlin. Köpi was first occupied by squatters in
institutionalised. They operate as venues, bars, 1990, during the heyday of squatting culture,
but as early as 1991 became a legal property
subject to a lease, owned by the state. Today
the venue continues to be extremely popular -
hosting hardcore punk events on a nightly basis
over two floors, it offers cheap alcohol from two
separate bars. Food, vinyls, CDs and T-shirts,
as well as anti-fascist paraphernalia are also
available from various stands inside. Usually
an entrance fee of around €4 is charged.
By day, the squat doubles up as a cinema
and shows a range of left wing films. The squat
celebrated 18 rent free years earlier in 2008.
However, almost exactly a year before this
celebration the squat had been rather dubiously
sold to an investor for reportedly half of the
Kopi, Kopenicker Strasse 137 market value. Although reports were circulated
new owner intended to demolish the building, The squat scene, as rebellious and brilliant
originally a series of apartments, there was no as it remains, functions within the framework of
official word from his camp. With the scheduled capitalism – whilst this is probably undesirable to
handover approaching, Köpi lawyers fought and the squatters, there is little alternative. Despite
won a remarkable victory against the new owners, this institutionalisation, even the aforementioned
being granted a lease on the first and ground Tacheles, a world famous squat, is facing a
floors (as well as one full wing of the building) for potentially short future. Artists at the squat are
the next thirty years. The surrounding area and less than optimistic about reaching an agreement
associated trailer park continues to be occupied that replicates the success Köpi achieved.
by Köpi squatters without strict permission. In addition to Köpi and Tacheles, squats exist
The Berlin squat scene, although vibrant and throughout Berlin. The locally famed Labyrinth
quite unique given the historical backdrop, is (Mainzer Strasse 7) nearest to Hermannplatz
often misunderstood. The German authorities U-Bahn is one of the most impressive West
and state are far less lenient towards squatters Berlin squats still in existance, opening every
than many perceive. As a Köpi squatter Thursday and Saturday night. Squats on Rigaer
confirmed to us, new squats in Berlin usually Strasse 94, and XB Liebig in Friedrichshain
only last a matter of hours before the police are also well worth a visit. Schwarser Kanal is
raid the premises and evict the squatters. one of Berlin’s many gay and lesbian squats.
In Neue Bahnhof in 1999, for example, a The squats continue to survive and quite often
newly formed squat lasted a mere 6 hours. thrive through this turbulence and uncertainty.
In 2005, a Yorckstrasse squat was raided by They remain a rock in Berlin’s hugely diverse
police and around 70 squatters were removed and vibrant alternative scene, highlighting
after their lease on the building expired. the remarkable possibilities of life in Berlin.
“Schwarser Kanal stays” - graffiti on the side of a Kopenicker Strasse building
Wall to wall
Cracked Wall artwork at the Eastside Gallery
The Berlin Wall remains the defining image of fencing. By sunrise that day West Berlin was an
the Cold War. It is symbolic of the corruption island of Democracy in a sea of Communism.
of the Marxist ideal within the Eastern Bloc. Within a few days the first concrete blocks were
Everything that exists in central Berlin today put in place. Within just a year a second barbed
still bears the remarkable and unmistakable wire fence was erected. This second fence,
scars inflicted by the Wall even so long roughly 100 metres further into Eastern territory,
after its fall. The 87 mile long, 12 foot high made any approach to the actual border near
divide which consisted of 45,000 separate impossible by creating an area of no-mans-
concrete blocks, cost the equivalent of over land soon to be dubbed the ‘Death Strip.’
three million US Dollars, and 136 attempted Between 1975 and 1980 the final stages
escapees their lives. The Wall, which stood of the Wall were completed and it took shape
for a total of 28 years between 1961 to 1989, as the imposing, soulless and towering grey
has reshaped the course of German history. divide that we can so vividly picture. The
Almost ten years after the Iron Curtain was actual wall, most famously pictured covered in
drawn across Europe, on 13th August 1961 graffiti, backed against the free West. Between
the Berlin Wall was born. Walter Ulbricht, the East Berliners, the Wall and ultimately the
First Secretary of the GDR at the time, had, West stood the aforementioned ‘Death Strip’.
two months prior to its construction, famously Beginning with the barbed wire fence, the
proclaimed, “No-one has the intention of building strip was littered with beds of nails, dogs on
a wall.” East German Police and soldiers long leashes and anti-vehicle trenches, which
(some of whom themselves fled) set about ensured those attempting to escape would be
the task of not only dividing East from West, spotted by guards stationed at one of the 116
but surrounding West Berlin with barbed wire watchtowers or 20 bunkers. Soldiers were