The Kurfürstendamm or simply Ku'damm is Berlin's most popular shopping street. Stretching for 3.5 km (2 miles) westwards from the Memorial Church it is a wide boulevard flanked by shops, hotels and restaurants and despite competition from the East's up-and-coming shopping areas around Friedrichstrasse and Hackescher Markt is has maintained its image as the place to shop and stroll. The liveliest section is between Breitscheidplatz and the fashionable Fasanenstrasse.
A very striking and monumental sculpure named Berlin has become a much loved feature of Tauentzienstraße since it has been placed there in 1987, as part of a temporary boulevard of sculptures (Skulpturenboulevard) to Berlin’s 750th anniversary. This mostly is due to the possibility of taking a great photo, with the sculpture framing Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche in the background.
The sculpture sits on a median strip of Tauentzienstraße, between Nürnberger and Marburger Straße, which BTW is very attractive with its trees, roses, flowerbeds and benches where you can relax a while from walking around the whole day. You cannot avoid seeing the sculpture if you walk from Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche to the shopping temple KaDeWe.
The artists Brigitte and Martin Matschinsky-Denninghof created the structure which perfectly symbolises the once separated and now reunited city. But most incredibly they created it two years before the reunification – suggesting that the two parts of Berlin would always belong together despite the imposed separation.
The sculpture sits in the median stripe like a gate, and is made of thick chrome-nickel steel pipes. Those pipes are intricated, like people hugging each other, but both parts have their own bases.
If you pass the gate-like sculpture, coming from Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche and heading to KaDeWe, you already make a mistake. The artists request you to pass it from the east to the west – this is also the direction you would take the photo. So take the photo first and then pass the gate, and you are fine.
Tauentzienstraße BTW is part of the so-called Generalszug. This is a wide boulevard which was created during the empire – following Paris’ example – and crosses the whole south-west of Berlin. In the old days the tram was running on the median stripe.
Breitscheidplatz ist the square Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche and Europa-Center are sitting on. It is a strange square, rather empty in the centre, at most attractive features at the margins, and they are placed like fallen from the sky. Although it is the central square of former West-Berlin it is not structured – like, for example, Alexanderplatz in the East – and does not really give you the feeling of being an important spot. Not to talk of monumental feeling. But perhaps this makes it a nice place to congregate.
There are quite a few very interesting fantasy animal sculptures dotted on the square. The main feature is the so-called Weltkugelbrunnen, the Globe Fountain. You might not really notice it at the start when you arrive at Breitscheidplatz because you automatically are attracted to the church and the Europa-Centre, and you look more towards the sky and not to the ground.
This fountain, created by the Berlin sculptor Joachim Schmettau in 1983, had a difficult start into life because the people thought it was too massive and monstruous. They called it “Wasserklops”. Water dumpling. Already the word was wrong because – if you take it literally – it means dumpling made of water and not dumpling in the water, what should be expressed.
In the meantime they love it as it is a nice place to sit and relax. The granite globe is not a plump dumpling at all. It is broken by many kinds of arches, and offers nice water displays around stairs, cascades and paradise figures.
This complex on Breitscheidplatz, beside Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, is far more than the 86 metre high rise building (would not call it skyscraper…). But you do not really get aware of it, as the adjoining buildings are like dotted into the landscape and not structured, like, for example, Potsdamer Platz.
It was built from 1963 to 1965 at the site of the legendary “Romantisches Café” where novelists and poets met in the 1920s, and which was destroyed in World War II. It soon became a signature building thanks to its rotating Mercedes star on the roof – that is why it is also called “dot on the i”. The building has 22 storeys.
The base of the complex extends over two storeys – plus a basement. There you find lots of shops, cafés and restaurants. The inner patios were roofed in the 1970s, and inside you also find a very nice fountain named Lotos-Brunnen, and a boardwalk over the water. Also a cinema in Tauentzienstraße, the Hotel Palace on Budapester Straße, and an apartment building are part of Europa-Center.
Cannot believe that I did not take a photo of the inside of Europa-Center or the whole building on my last trip. So here I post a photo of the animal sculptures of Breitscheidplatz. On my tip about the Globe Fountain you see parts of the Europa-Center in the background… ;-)
Perhaps it is nostalgia that makes me look at the shop window boxes of Kudamm with a smile, and this could be a sign that I am really getting older ;-)
Those window boxes are placed in the middle of the footpath, and contain nothing but advertisements, and some exhibits from the adjoining shops. But to me they are part of Kudamm and thus part of Berlin, and I had looked forward to walking around them after so many years of not being in the city. I had feared they would have demolished them. So I was happy to find them unharmed.
Another thing I would have liked to see unchanged was Café Kranzler which was an absolutely unique structure from the 1960s. Walking past it, or having a coffee there had always been like looking at or being part of an old movie with Audrey Hepburn. But unfortunately this piece of nostalgia has been renovated, and reopened with offices, shops, and a new café. It has lost its romantic flair. I read that Café Kranzler had been considered an eyesore of the sixties, and thus had to be taken into more modern times. I do not agree, I think this change is a loss – although I admit that the new structure is NO eyesore… And had I not known the original I would not complain at all.
As I grew up in post-war West Germany I grew up with Kurfürstendamm as the centre of Berlin. If you now see the hordes of tourists running around Potsdamer Platz and Sony Centre you can hardly imagine that Kurfürstendamm – only called Kudamm – has once been this one and only centre for us Westerners.
But the longer the day lasts the more it transforms back into the buzzling centre it has ever been. There are so many cultural places to go to, theatres, cabarets, museums, galleries, live music, cinemas, you name it. And you have lots of boutiques, cafés, pubs, and discotheques for bar-hopping at night.
The war-damaged spire of Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche is the most striking feature of the area. It sits at the end of Kudamm which continues as Tauentzienstraße. The other high tower beside it is Europa-Center, a shopping and restaurant complex which was built in 1965.
Whenever I visited Berlin, on private or business trips, I nearly always chose accommodation near Kudamm, so I could stroll along the boulevard, so much I liked it.
Although I do not shop till I drop I have also always loved to go into KaDeWe, this Harrod’s-like department store, some steps from Kudamm.
This is reknowned as the high end area to find those uneeded, but show off items. It is really a pretty nice boulevard that has a lot of high end stores of all kinds and types. It runs a length of about 3-4 blocks for most shopping and some off side streets also sell goods. It was constructed in 1870's to compete against the Champs Elysee in Paris. It is a rebuilt street due to war damage.
The largest department store in Europe is KaDeWe. It is to be bigger than Harrod's and the food section is larger.
The most popular shopping street of Berlin, where you will find anything money can buy ... The best-known shopping place is the "KaDeWe" (Kaufhaus des Westens), a huge department store at the end of the Kürfürstendamm.
At the center of Kurfuerstendamm lies the of a ruined, Kaiser-era church that has been left unrepaired so that Germany will never forget the destruction of WWII. If I ever have to show George Bush around Berlin, this is where I'm taking him.
Convenient to Zoologischer Garten, packed end to end with many great restaurants, sports bars, speciality shops, beer taverns, theatres, stores selling books, clothing, jewelry, chocolates, whatever you can imagine you might want to buy or experience: Ku'damm (the short form of Kurfürstendamm) is a great jumping off point for an evening, or to meet friends. Also if you are looking for a tour of the city, many companies have start spots here, you've only to walk up and check the times, pay your fee and hop onboard one of the open top buses.
Tourists and visitors roam here in packs, cameras clicking, loud, happy voices blaring, eager to see everything, but also many Berliners frequent this area especially those who prefer the higher level department stores, and to see and be seen. Day or night, this place is well lit, 24 hour activity, and definitely a "must-see" for those visiting Berlin. KaDeWe the famous many-storied store can be easily reached here, though unless you have loads of money, cheaper goods are found else where. If you have just a bit of funds, there are many little shops selling souvenirs and the like, up and down Ku'damm, closer to the Kaiser Wilheim memorial is the best place to find such.
The Europa Centre is also a great hang-out in this area/meeting point for friends, again items are overpriced and can be found elsewhere for much less, but for those visitors who had a limited number of days in Berlin, it really is a great place to go. Basically everything under one roof: restaurants, clothing shops, souvenirs, pubs/bars, jewelry, bake shops, whatever one needs.
What do you at Ku'damm? Even if you spend no major money, simply stroll along Ku'damm, do some window shopping, watch all the interesting people going by, sit at one of the little park areas and have an ice cream, take in the beautiful nature of Berlin. This street is lined with beautiful trees, and interesting architecture. Take your time, its a lovely area.
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