KREUZBERG straddles the Landwehr Canal, south of Mitte. It is
a residential district with a huge number of restaurants, cafes
and bars. Running along the line of the canal is Berlin's first
U-Bahn line, the U1. Kreuzberg, in the late 19th century, was
a working class area and the local council who financed the line
couldn't afford to run it underground as richer suburbs like Charlottenburg
could. The result is a spectacular overhead track with several
attractive stations - Kottbusser Tor and Schlesisches Tor - running
parallel to a lazily flowing canal spanned by arched stone bridges.
The U1 is rather unkindly nicknamed the Istanbul Express, a reference
to the many Turkish guest workers who were invited to Germany
in the 60s and who make up a large part of the suburb's population,
particularly round Kottbusser Tor, where Turkish grocers, snack
(Imbiß) stalls, restaurants and banks represent two thirds of
Another contribution to Kreuzberg's character is that Berliners,
under the Four Powers agreement, were not subject to conscription,
which increased the wave of younger Germans anxious to experience
life in their sometime capital. 30 years on, the suburb's two
halves - nicknamed after the original postal codes - display rather
different characters. SO 61, to the west, is relatively prosperous,
fashionable and professional - the once alternative society dominates
the restaurant, bar and clothes and furniture business. SO 36,
to the east retains more of the original flavour, with its junk
markets, squatted property, murals and generally a younger scene.
northern edge of Kreuzberg abuts the site of the Berlin Wall.
On Kochstrasse, the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie records escape
attempts, and is located at the old American military border crossing.
Further east the massive tower of one of Germany's press barons,
Axel Springer, rears up, only two blocks away from Daniel Liebeskind's
Jewish Museum, a jagged concrete structure representing a broken
Star of David. To the west of Checkpoint Charlie, on Stresemannstrasse,
the museum The Topography of Terror, built on the site of the
old SS HQ, chronicles the horrors of the Third Reich. Next to
it stands the beautiful Martin Gropius building, a museum with
a permanent Surrealist collection and regular adventurous temporary
exhibitions. To the south are the ruins of the Anhalter Bahnhof,
the old station for South Germany, and beyond it, the Tempodrom,
one of Berlin's most prestigious cabaret venues, housed in a strange
South of the canal, SO 61 lies east of the old rail lines running
south, and stretches to the point where the land rises up from
the Spree's southern flood plain to the rise with Tempelhof, the
city's original airport.
The Museum of Transport and Technology records Berlin's rich
industrial heritage - suspended high in the air above the entrance
is one of the Raisin Bombers, the planes that supplied the city
during the Berlin Airlift.
The intersection Mehringdamm-Yorckstrasse is the focal point
of cafe and night life in SO 61. Two streets south, galleries,
clothes shops and restaurants range along Bergmannstrasse towards
Marheinekeplatz, with its covered market, and the Passionskirche,
a music venue. Two further and you come to the beautifully restored
Fidicinstrasse, with its water tower and The Friends of the Italian
Opera, an English theatre venue.
West along Yorckstrasse, through a rounded arch at number 83-86,
one of the most beautiful original Berlin closes can be visited.
Riemers Hofgarten is a paradise of stately mansions, divided into
flats, overlooking a maze of gardens instead of the usual bare
South again lies Viktoriapark with its lawns, a waterfall, rocky
grottos and a monument on a hill commemorating the dead of the
War of Liberation against Napoleon. This is the hill and cross
that give the suburb its name. Behind the hill the outdoor nightclub
Golgotha has attracted generations of Kreuzbergers.
East along Gneisenaustrasse's clubs and bars you arrive at Hasenheide
Park on the right, where the Turkish population gather in the
summer and the air is thick with the smell of barbecues.
Hermannplatz nearby was the site of the biggest department store
in Europe, built in the 20s, although now a more modestly redesigned
branch of the Karstadt chain. SO 36 is centred round Oranienstrasse
with its alternative shops, bars and cafes. Here, and to the east,
the buildings are often covered with graffiti and some beautifully
Mariannenplatz is a stop off for many festivals in the summer,
including the wonderful Karneval der Kulturen (a chance for the
many nationalities living in Berlin to dance through the streets
Görlitzer Park, with its Swimming baths and sauna, leads you
towards the canal again. To the east, beyond Schlesisches Tor
station and the sculpture garden nearby, stretches the river Spree,
spanned by the recently re-opened mock medieval Oberbaumbrücke
which leads to FRIEDRICHSHAIN, previously East Berlin, but now
administratively the same suburb as Kreuzberg.
is the area on either side of Karl-Marx-Allee, previously Stalinallee.
This huge ceremonial road is lined with Russian wedding cake style
blocks faced with Meissen marble. This was a good DDR address.
It was the building workers from this site who sparked off the
protest that led to the so-called workers uprising in 1953, which
was suppressed by Russian tanks. The uprising took place on the
17th June, and the West Berliners, who were powerless to intervene
without risking triggering World War III, named the alley running
through the Tiergarten in the west, after that date.
Where Friedrichshain meets the river the longest remaining stretch
of the Berlin Wall can be see. The East Side Gallery is a collection
of murals painted by artists from all over the world shortly after
the Wall came down, including the famous kiss between Breznev
has a large park, Volkspark Friedrichshain, laid out in 1840 on
the anniversary of Frederick the Great's accession. It contains
a Fairy Tale Fountain, decorated with statues of characters from
the Grimm Brothers collection of stories, an open air venue for
music and theatre, and cafes, all dotted around the central view
which offers a good view out over the eastern city.
South of Karl-Marx-Allee, a booming restaurant, cafe and bar
district centres round Simon-Dach- and Boxhagener Strasse.
East along the Allee is the Forum Mall where the S Bahn ring
crosses the street. Northern Kreuzberg is served by the U1, SO
61 by the U6, SO 36 by the U8, and Friedrichshain by the S-Bahn,
the U5 and countless trams.
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