During each of my visits in Berlin I’m amazed by how fast the city changes, how unique it becomes and how it is now an alternative capital of Europe (I even dare to say of the world). Since the fall of the Berlin Wall 25 years ago it had to define itself again as a new, reunited capital and I personally am very glad that it went to this very direction. When lately I was exploring not the touristy parts of Berlin I had moments when I couldn’t really believe that all I’m seeing is actually real. It was just too hip, too cool, too much of the dream coming true. And even if these places were full of tourists they still managed to remain real and are spots where young Berliners live, work, party and chill out.
The most alternative districts of all and one of the best known neighbourhoods of Berlin. It’s easy to distinguish the moment when you step into Kreuzberg as suddenly all you see around are quirky shops, small restaurants, cosy cafes and funky looking people. On top of that there’s an overwhelming number of the amazing street art on every step, including some of the most famous Berlin pieces. In the times of Berlin’s division this district used to be in West Berlin yet surrounded by the Wall – what first was a poor, isolated area now is the cultural heart of the city. There’re lots of nightclubs, pubs, cafes, quirky little shops and small restaurants – surely Kreuzberg is a place to be! It’s also where I had one of the weirdest meals of my life – under the subway bridge, in the former public toilet there’s a burger bar that serves pretty awesome food – the long line seems to confirm that.
Located close to Warschauer Strasse sbahn and ubahn station, this former railway maintenance yard now serves as an alternative culture center. Railway tracks are still on the ground, some of the old buildings still stand – this industrial scenery is a perfect setting for a place like this. RAW Temple is where numerous community projects take place. From art exhibitions and rock concerts to open-air cinema or workshops for young and adults – everything can be found there! I visited RAW Temple on Saturday morning – the place was fairly empty but small kids were learning how to skate (in the indoor skate hall) and older folks were doing some rock climbing. On Sunday the place turns into a big flea market. RAW Temple was a place that I’d definitely love to spend more time in and enjoy all the activities! Sadly rumors say shopping center is going to be built in this location…
Most people go to Hackesche Hofe to admire the beautiful art-deco building (it is indeed spectacular). But not many know that the next entrance leads to the courtyard that is a paradise for every street art lover. The place is literally covered in various forms of street art – graffiti, posters, murals, stickers… Even if the courtyard is fairly small it took me at least an hour to take a closer look at every single piece. Most of them were exceptional! And when I say it was everywhere I really mean it – I looked at the ceiling and even there was a cute Little Lucy trying to kill her cat in yet another intricate way. Located not far away from Alexanderplatz Hackesche Hofe is highlighy recommended!
Former East Berlin area that always has been in the opposition, now is one of the most desired places to live in the capital of Germany. And I can’t blame all these people dreaming of being residents of Prenzlauer Berg. Packed with cozy cafes and small boutiques and full of beautiful architecture it surely must be a wonderful place to live in. Prenzlauer Berg makes a perfect alternative to the famous landmarks of the city. After the busy sightseeing day it’s worth stopping in that district for a cup of coffee, just to enjoy the easy-going lifestyle Berlin is so famous for. You can read and see more of Prenzlauer Berg in my recent post.
At the edge of Prenzlauer Berg, where te Berlin Wall and its Death Strip used to be, the most hip of city’s parks can be found. It’s especially worth to visit Mauerpark on Sunday as that’s when the whole magic happens – one of the biggest flea market (however it felt a little bit too commercial for me), public karaoke singing or, when the weather is nice, a massive bbq. It seemed like only cool, trendy and young Berliners visit the park to chill out with friends and so it’s worth visiting the place just for people watching. I’ve heard opinions that Mauerpark has become a touristy substitute of Berliner lifestyle – true or not it’s definitely an amazing place to spend some time in!
Due to the history and especially the division lots of Berlin’s buildings were abandoned. But since the alternative scene there has been very active for years the empty space was taken by squatters who turned them into active culture centers. Now they are legalized and are the place where concerts, exhibitions or workshops often take place. Most of the Berlin’s squats can be found in Mitte, Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. Sadly the best known squat, Tacheles, has been recently closed, after over 20 years. But still the city is full of other great places, such as Kopi 137 or Tommy Weisbecker Haus – a squat that has been names after young anarchist killed by the police in 1972, the place that has been in service for over 40 years!
Berlin must be the world’s capital of street art! Most of the city, and especially the alternative districts, is covered in all forms of art. And these are not just any random paintings but really valuable pieces, some with deep meaning. Artists from all over the world come to Berlin to be part of its wonderful street art scene. Take a look at my recent photo post to see some great street art pieces from Berlin!
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