Saturday 13 May 2017

Berlin - Prenzlauer Berg and beyond

Prenzlauer Berg was originally a densely populated working-class district. It was fought over street by street during the war, which meant that many of its hallmark turn-of-the-20th-century tenement blocks survived along with its leafy cobbled streets. In the GDR days this was a uniquely vibrant and exciting corner of East Berlin, home to artists and young people seeking an alternative lifestyle.  After the Wende, the venerable atmosphere, central location and low rents quickly made this a lively and fashionable district.  Merciless gentrification with an influx of wealthy creative types and middle class families, has dulled the ambience a little, though the area still retains a distinctive buzz, plus the buzzy Sunday flea market at the Mauerpark.

And this is where we started. This is one of the best markets I have been to for a very long time, and we really enjoyed it, despite the rain which, coupled with strong winds, was fairly unpleasant.

Cakes, as only the Germans can bake

crystal glasses

homemade liqueurs

handmade chocolates

olive wood kitchen utensils

children's clothes

jewellery made out of watch faces

Moroccan pottery

GDR mementos

iris photography



international cuisine - Argentinian


Korean and much more.

The rain did get to us after a while, so moved on down Danziger Strasse

full of trendy bars and restaurants

The Museum in der Kulturbrauerei with its permanent exhibition of Everyday Life in the GDR

These streets were among the first to be gentrified when the Wall fell in 1989 and today many of the yuppie pioneers have settled and had children explaining the overwhelming presence of little ones in the district. In fact, I remember being amazed at the number of pregnant women we saw last time we visited this area, 6 years ago.

This was once another important area for Jews as a nearby large cemetery and a restored synagogue attest.

We eventually reached our destination, Kollwitzplatz, the focal point of the district. The square is named after artist Kaethe Kollwitz who lived in the area from 1891 to 1943. She created powerful political and pacifist art.

A large statue of Kollwitz dominates the square.

This is an area to explore on foot

We stopped at Pasternak, a long-standing Jewish-Russian restaurant, best known for its incredible Sunday brunch, which we remembered from our last visit. We had a veritable feast.

Brunch was followed by a visit to the Wasserturm

a cylindrical brick water tower, the oldest one in Berlin,  that was constructed in 1877 by the English Waterworks Co. on the site of a pre-industrial windmill. Today the refurbished tower is home to much-coveted wedge-shaped apartments. The tower lies close to the site of a (now torn-down) machine house that was infamous for Nazi atrocities. Once the party came to power the SA turned it into a torture chamber - the bodies of 28 of their victims were later found in the underground pipe work.

Another small tower is nearby and the two are connected. The underground parts of both are now used for art installations and exhibitions

Next to the towers is a small urban park with a landscaped garden and playground.

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