Some other buildings around Alexanderplatz are so ugly that they will be demolished sooner or later. Those high-rise Plattenbau (prefabricated concrete slabs) buildings look like depressing rat cages and do not offer a lot of quality of life.
The plan of an architect who won a competition for redesigning Alex includes building 13 new skyscrapers. If they look like the futuristic ones at Potsdamer Platz this could become spectacular, and integrate the TV Tower a bit more into the square.
This is a 1.5-mile or 2.5 km walk through Spandauer Vorstadt, a part of the borough "Mitte" which, together with "Scheunenviertel" around Rosenthaler Str. was the Jewish Quarter of Berlin. Streets like Oranienburger Str. or Hamburger Str. date back to times when this area actually was a "Vorstadt" ("before the city") with streets merchants used to go to other cities.
Many places commemorate Jewish life (watch out for "Stolpersteine"), and I see with delight that the Jewish congregation is now back and growing.
Start your tour at Hackescher Markt S-Bahn station. Cross the square, go through Hackesche Höfe, the most well-known courtyards, and maybe see Rosenhöfe, too. You won't miss either of those.
Then turn left into Sophienstr (pic #1). There are some galeries, more courtyards, and without the cars, one could think, time stood still since the 19th century. Many better known Berliners are buried at Sophienkirche's cemetery.
Pic#2: Turn left into Große Hamburger Str. Here, you'll find a Jewish school and Berlin's oldest Jewish cemetery. Philosopher Moses Mendelsohn was buried here, but Nazis had destroyed the cemetery to build trenches. Only a reconstruction of Mendelssohn's tombstone can be found.
Now turn right into Oranienburger Str. to find Kunsthof, New Synagogue and Heckmann Höfe (pic #3). Although not a red-light district, you'll see hookers along Oranienburger Str. (not in front of the synagogue) after sunset, so if you have kids, you might want to come at broad daylight.
Go through Heckmann Höfe and turn left. Go down either Auguststr. or Tucholskystr. Turn right into Oranienburger Str. again to find Tacheles.
Pic #4: Tacheles is Yiddish for plain-talking, which was difficult in the GDR when artists had to hide their message "between the lines". Formerly a department store, the building is certainly not something for everyone, but it has a very moving history.
Now you are at Friedrichstrasse with a subway station and a tram stop right in front of you.
Watching the tourist ships passing the bank of the river Spree I observed again suprising memorials.
People trying to escape from the former communist government of Eastern Germany were simply killed when crossing the river.
These signs you will see near the new and modern representative buildings not far from the Reischstag. The white crosses show with the names and dates of death of people who died attempting to cross the border lines. There are similar memorials along the former perimeter of the Wall. The empty black space is for a person whose data are unknown.
The momuments have a heavy impact on visitors.
Get the story behind the incredible controversy surrounding it. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, designed by US architect Peter Eisenmann.
This monument commemorating the murdered European Jews is a field of stelae, a labyrinth for visitors to walk through 2711 grey concrete blocks of widely varying height from 0,20 m to 4.70 m.
Made me quiet and thinking.
The expocentre "Messe Berlin" in area of Charlottenburg belongs to the best in the world. In 26 pavilions with an exhibition area nearby 160 thousand of square meters annually take place about 60 exhibitions-fairs.
The Domaquaree is an example for the new post-modern architecture which has been shaping the Berlin-Mitte district since the re-unification. It contains lots of office-space, several restaurants, the SAS Radisson hotel and the SeaLife centre. As you can see in the picture, it also features a roofed pedestrian street which could come in handy should you be surprised by a freak shower on your way from the Brandenburg Gate to the Alexanderplatz.
I approached Tacheles with a bunch of new found friends from my hostel. We go up to the bombed out ruins of a former department store that was originally part of the Friedrichstadtpassagen. I thought, "What am I getting into?". We walked inside and found one of the coolest contemporary artist exhibitions that I have come across anywhere. Also there were a number of funky cafes. I had a blast. Apparently, in 1990 the Tacheles Artists' Initiative squatted the ruins and now there is a protection order for it. I recommend swinging by the place, especially at night when the more mainstream tourists may not be around.
Friedrichstraße: The street affords a two mile walk from Hallesches Tor all the way up to Oranienburger Tor, and presents a fascinating cross section through the centre of Berlin. Starting out from the former West, Friedrichstraße soon cuts the former iron curtain at Checkpoint Charlie. From there it plunges right into the newly developed shopping district of Berlin-Mitte, with its department stores and shopping arcades. Crossing the avenue Unter Den Linden and venturing further up north, the axis underpasses the S-Bahn lines connecting east and west at Bahnhof Friedrichstraße with its so-called Tränenpalast (Palace of Tears), that functioned for decades of German separation as checkpoint for visitors from the West. Friedrichstraße finally steps across the river Spree into one of Berlin’s most exciting neighbourhood featuring theatres, galleries, restaurants, clubs, bars and small designer boutiques.
I can't remember the name of this building, but it was bombed in World War II and never repaired, since it was on the Eastern side, and the Communists couldn’t afford to rebuild all the buildings. Now, with reunification, there's an artists' colony perched inside it now, complete with a fully-stocked bar. There's nothing more Armageddon-like than drinking a beer in a bombed-out building. Talk about Apocalypse Now...
Sabsi has just told me that the building is called the Tacheles and used to be a department store. Aparently in the past year, it's begun to be rebuilt and now the only people hanging around are drug-dealers. It's amazing how fast Berlin changes.
This street is famous for the Tacheles, the cultural art center in an old WWII ruined house....
These days, there are windows in the back wall of the building again....it´s not the same anymore I would say...
But the Oranienburger Strasse still has a lot to see and what is even better is that there are still a lot of very nice bars around... Would have loved to eat something here but all places were crowded....next time maybe but I guess it´s always crowded....
The new synagoge is the biggest one in Germany. You can see the golden cuppola from far away....I really like the architecture of it.....
There are guided tours through it and I think that its really interesting to take part to learn a lot over the Jewish Berlin nowadays.
The synagoge survived Hitlers Progrom Night in 1938 without big damages but was heavily destroyed in WWII.
It was rebuild in the late 80s and reopenend in 1995.
Still on my way I also passed by the "Palast der Republik" that has been formally the government building of the GDR parliament.
This building has been a Multi-functionality-building with theater, bars, restaurants and a lot more, built with an outstanding interior architecture thatfor it has been in a list between the 65 worldwide biggest constructions of this multi-function idea.
Oranienburger Straße is a street full of great nightlife locations. Apart from great pubs and clubs you will find the Jewish synagogue with its beautiful dome and the Tacheles here - a centre for art, culture and parties.
The house the Tacheles is in was bombed in WWII and during 40 years of GDR government it was never restored. So from the courtyard behind it you can see right into the rooms as the wall is missing.
Friedrichstraße is one of the big streets in Berlin-Mitte. In the 1920s it belonged to the heart of Berlin and now - after reunification - it has become a street full of fancy shops and hotels again. You will find the Galeries Lafayette here, a big department store as well as many shopping galleries.
Friedrichstraße station used to be a checkpoint for foot passengers from West Berlin. You will find the tRÄNENpALAST next to the station. This building, which is now a centre for theatre and concerts used to be the hall of the checkpoint at the subway station Berlin Friedrichstrasse. I remember coming from a day in the East back to the checkpoint in the building which is now the tRÄNENpALAST and I saw someone with a plastic bag hanging around in front of the door collecting all the money the visitors still had in their pockets. Very sad, considering that in the East everything was so cheap and people from the west (who had to change 25 DMs into 25 Mark East for each daying staying) always had problems getting rid of all the money...
Anyway it's called palace of tears because this was the place where the people of East Berlin had to say good bye to friends and family from the west. A sad place isn't it?
The Tacheles is located in the ruins of a former department store. The building was originally part of the Friedrichstadtpassagen. In WW2 the building was hit by bombs. 1990, the Tacheles Artists' Initiative squatted the ruins and now there is a protection order for it. There are exhibitions from contemporary artists, theatre and a cinema.