NEUKÖLLN (Britz)

NEUKÖLLN is situated in the South-East of Berlin and stretches from the Landwehr Canal in the east and Tempelhof Airport in the west, to the southern boundary of the city. The farms and windmills that had grown up on the land rising up from the flood plain on the southern bank of the Spree, were overwhelmed, in the second half of the 19th century by an explosion of building to provide housing for the factory workers required by the rapidly industrialising city. The typical 5 storey blocks of flats ranged round a succession of courtyards sprang up along the two main roads south out of Berlin - Hermannstrasse and Karl-Marx-Strasse, and swallowed up the old village of Rixdorf.

Here, a couple of hundred meters away from the traffic of Karl-Marx-Strasse, you can enjoy the peace of the Bohemian village, with its 18th century houses built by Hussite refugees from the present day Czech Republic. Stables, a forge and a few old farm buildings remain, near the delightfully calm Richardplatz.

In the post-war period the suburb BRITZ was added to the south - here semi-detached, detached houses and terraces give the air of a greener, more open city. And further south and east again, the model dwellings of the Hufeisensiedlung (horseshoe settlement) created by Bruno Taut, and the enormous tower blocks of Gropiusstadt (dedicated to the original planner, the Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius). Neukölln sports its own opera house, The Neukölln Oper, in a complex with a multiplex cinema, which offers a rather off the beaten track programme of modern and classical works.

The neo-classical Neukölln Public Swimming Baths is complemented by an extraordinary Sauna and Turkish Baths, mosaiced in Roman style, with sunbeds, massage and cafe.

To the rear of the Baths the local (Heimat) museum has wonderful displays of photos of the suburb and its inhabitants from the turn of the century.

Further south, Blub, a modern leisure centre with wave machines and water slides, offers similar services, with more of an emphasis on family entertainment.

Britz Public Gardens, carefully landscaped with streams and ponds, are a favourite local outing in the summer. Several small cafes provide refreshment. The main shopping areas, including a number of shopping malls, are to be found along the northern section of Karl-Marx-Strasse, and to the south, a Walmart. Neukölln is served by the U7 and U8.


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