Berlin Off The Beaten Path Tips by diocletianvs
Berlin Off The Beaten Path: 466 reviews and 689 photos
Treptow riverside development
This area on the banks of the river Spree close to Treptower park is perhaps new Docklands of Berlin. New offices and residential buildings occupy an area of former industry and although it may not be the liveliest area of Berlin for me it was a pure pleasure to wander around.
Port cranes and new skyscrapers - wow, what else could I ask for ?
Marzahn was once a showcase of Honecker's efforts to create model town for the citizens of the GDR but unfortunately little is left of its original idea. I am not sure about this but I have a feeling that this was also one of the first models of new united Germany dealing with "ugly communist buildings". During the renewal process someone obviously had too much of the colour paint - almost every balcony is painted differently and some facades now look like the best examples of tropical parrots.
Like modernist architecture, landscape architecture of the time was also reserved, abstract and mainly monochromatic with just few shades of green. But those in charge of the renewal obviously saw it as empty and needed to "decorate" a bit. Now a new park features flowers of all colours, chinese and japanese temples and ponds with goldfish. It is simply "too beautiful" for me to show a photo on my page.
After a short wander around Marzahn I quickly saw what happened here and soon left it from the derelict S-bahn station that shows the new problems Marzahn is today facing: it is known as area where unemployment is high and so is the crime rate. Transition from the East to West wasn't easy and cannot be felt on Potsdamer Platz or Unter der Linden. It is places like Marzahn that one has to visit in order to get more real picture, and no new color on balconies can hide all the problems behind.
Allee der Kosmonauten
My plan for the morning was to visit one of the typical 1970s neighbourhoods of former East Berlin and I originally headed to Marzahn but couldn't resist the beauty of the residential towers along the Allee der Kosmonauten so I left the S-bahn two stops early. And I didn't regret since high-rise development of the Wohngebiet am Springfuhl is real beauty of its time. I know most people will say it is a terrible mistake done by the former communist government of the GDR but in fact it was the only possible answer to the problem of housing shortage in the context of that time - a model town that followed all principles of the modernist architecture. Housing blocks are accompanied by shopping facilities, schools and kindergardens, cinemas and swimming pools all set in nice composition among the vast green areas. S-bahn offers quick links to the center of Berlin while trams and buses connect smaller residential areas.
Almost all buildings were recently renewed and this was done well, improving the insulation of the buildings, adding solar cells on facades etc but without destroying the original appearance of the buildings.
S-bahn S7, S75 to Springpfuhl
Causalties of the Soviet Army in the WWII battle for Berlin were huge, and so is this monument commemorating them that occupies the central area of the Treptower Park. Some 5,000 Soviet soldier are buried here.
The monument is a typical Soviet - Stalinist piece of gigantism and features statue of the Motherland (represented as a grieving woman) and statues of Soviet soldiers flanked by huge triangles (made of red granite Nazis bought from Sweden for their never finished projects in Berlin). From this point there is a broad view of the main monument of the Soviet Soldier saving a child and fighting a Swastika, placed on top of a huge hill. The paths leading there are decorated by some reliefs showing the scenes from the war and many Stalin's words displayed in Russian on the one side and in German on the other side.
The monument is not as crowded as it used to be in the GDR time when it was the must-stop of organized bus tours but it is kept in almost perfect shape and is worth visiting if for nothing else then for its size and monumentality. I stopped here for a while and tried to think about the Soviet army losing so many soldiers here and it made understanding the irrational post-war German and especially Berlin history a little bit easier.
The heart of Berlin is made of the huge Tiergarten, but its residential districts are rather dense. Treptower Park makes a green oasis situated on the river Spree in south-eastern suburbs of Berlin and is very popular among those looking for some nature and escape from the urban environment.
This large park was created in the 19th Century and features huge meadows, natural wooden areas and some restaurants and cafes situated close to the water. There are some boats to rent here as well, and nearby Spreepark is a nostalgic amusement park built during the GDR era. But the main feature of the Treptower park is huge Soviet Memorial commemorating some 300,000 causalties on the Soviet side during the battle for Berlin in WWII.
S-bahn station Treptower Park
When the wall came down and Berlin became once again the capital city of the united Germany it was time to build new embassies in the city. Some great architecture was created but none of the new embassies is as famous as the embassy complex of the Nordic countries.
Situated on the southern end of the Tiergarten five nordic countries - Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Sweden - came together with an idea of 5 similar buildings built together and enclosed by a single greenish envelope and birch trees. There is also a sixth building that accommodates public features like a library, cultural centres and exhibition places. A huge block of granite makes the main 4-storey high facade of the Norwegian embassy while Danes proudly display famous Danish chair design that you can see if you peek through the street window.
Built in 1999 by Berger and Parkkinen the Nordic Embassy Complex is a fine example of architecture and a great showcase of the Nordic approach that includes both individuality and cooperation.
Rauchstrasse, bus #200 stops nearby.
Le Corbusier House
Famous Swiss / French architect Le Corbusier designed several variations of "machines for living", many of them derived from his visionary Ville Contemporaine plans from the early 1920s. The most famous is certainly his Unite d'Habitation in Marseille which has a sister in western outskirts of Berlin, close to Olympia stadion.
Built for the 1957 Berlin Interbau exhibition here Le Corbusier was restricted by strict German standards and could not experiment with his minimalist dimensions which makes this Unite - Typ Berlin one of the best in its family when it comes to standard of living.
Colorful facade, almost perfect joints of concrede details, internal corridors and communal facilities are similar to other buildings Le Corbusier built after the WWII. Seventeen windowless internal streets accommodate 530 units and when I was there I was happy to discover that the front doors aren't locked making it possible to take a look inside and to take a fantastic view of Berlin from the top floor.
The Corbusierhaus is just south of the Olympia Stadion in the Westend section of Berlin. S-bahn S9, S75 to Olympiastadion or U2 to Olympia Stadion (Ost).
The huge stadium was built for the 1936 Olympic games that became famous not for the sport results but for the Nazi doctrine that became more and more powerful. This massive neoclassical structure is one of the few remaining Nazi-era buildings in Berlin that is still in use. In its old days it saw masses saluting to Hitler and Jesse Owens winning four gold medals and today it is being prepared for the 2006 Football championships.
Unfortunately, preparations for the football finale include the installation of the fence around the stadium so it is no longer possible to walk inside freely. Still, even from the distance the Olympia Stadium remains impressive.
To reach take U2 to U-bahn stop Olympia Stadion (Ost) or S-bahn S5, S75 to Olympiastadion.
The Missing House
This is a nice approach to mark the void created by the WWII bombs. In one of the side streets near Oranienburger strasse the place where the residential building stood untill 1943 was marked in 1990 by french artist Christian Boltanski. What he did is simple and powerful at the same time - he simply put plates on side walls of the surviving buildings recalling the names, dates and professions of the former inhabitants of the house that was destroyed by the bombings.
Watching the movies about World War II with Germans as the Bad Guys makes it rather easy to forget that Berlin (and most of other German towns) suffered fierce bombings during the war and while the officials had their bunkers where they were hiding it is the ordinary citizens that suffered very much losing almost everything overnight.
The Missing House
Grosse Hamburger Strasse, S-bahn stop Hackescher Markt.
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