Berlin Off The Beaten Path Tips by Kakapo2 Top 5 Page for this destination
Berlin Off The Beaten Path: 470 reviews and 700 photos
Together and apart.
Update 9 November 2009
In my tip I have written about fading colours. This is no more the case. The Eastside Gallery has been repainted by the artists for today's celebration of the 20 year anniversary of the fall of the Wall. So again it is in mint condition. Just wonderful news. The upgrade came at a huge cost of 4.2 million Euro.
After a long day this can become a long walk. The stretch of the Wall along the northern bank of the river Spree (in former East Berlin) and Mühlenstraße is 1.3 kilometres long.
But you will not regret the walk from Oberbaumbrücke to Ostbahnhof, as this open air gallery is spectacular. Spectacular with one reservation: Many of those open air paintings on the concrete slabs of the Wall, the so-called hinterland Wall, created by internationally renowned artists, are fading or even peeling off. And some have been defaced by some primates’ primitive graffiti. So some of the paintings are not recognisable anymore.
Others have been redone or restored lately – and those are spectacular. For example the one with the border controls, including the kiss of the spiritual brothers, this horrible intimate kiss of Erich Honecker and Leonid Breshnev. I hope other artists come back as well and freshen up their work, so this spectacular Gallery keeps on attracting people.
Some of the paintings did not make much sense to me, they were just nice and colourful. But most of them incorporated the artists’ ideas about separation and reunification, some very obviously, other messages more sophisticated. Some are very critical, others hilariously funny.
As this part of the Wall was along the route international protocol visitors took to East Berlin’s airport Schönefeld, it was constructed of the better looking L-shaped slabs that were used for protecting GDR from the Western conspirators. The artists started their painting jobs in 1990.
What annoyed me a bit were the open air bars behind the slabs of the East Side Gallery. They block off the views over the Spree and to Oberbaumbrücke. You cannot buy and have a drink every some metres, just to be allowed to look over the river. So those bar owners have created a new kind of wall, blocking off people who want to enjoy both sides of Berlin. Well – at least you are free to look if you pay… ;-)
Interesting museum in a spectacular building.
We did not plan to have a look at the Museum of Communication. We just happened to pass at this impressive building on our way from Checkpoint Charlie to Gendarmenmarkt, and I thought it would be more interesting to walk through Mauerstraße than Friedrichstraße LOL
The building at the corner of Mauerstraße and Leipziger Straße is, as said, spectacular. It was built from 1893 to 1897, and profoundly restored from 1996 to 2000. The museum was founded as the world’s first post museum, and opened in 1898 as the successor of a museum at another location, founded in 1872.
Some exhibits remind strongly of this past, for example you can admire the legendary Blue Mauritius stamp, the first telephones invented by Philipp Reis, and robots. In interactive zones you can test some methods of communication. In multi-media areas you get an introduction into the central issues of the history and the means of communication. And just one thing: I have studied sciences of communications before the multi-media and internet age, and this was definetely more boring than this museum ;-)
During World War II most of the exhibits were kept at a safe place and after the war taken to Frankfurt where the Bundespostmuseum was founded. The building in East Berlin was superficially restored and used as a postmuseum. In West Berlin they opened a Berlin post and telecommunications museum in 1966. After the reunification and the restoration of the East Berlin building to its former glory the two Berlin museums were reunited.
On the internet you will find a virtual tour of the museum in English. The museum also has a shop and a restaurant.
Open Tue – Fri 9am – 5pm, Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 10am – 6pm
Entry fee 3 Euro, children up to 15 years free
Guided tours, phone (030) 202 94 204
Leipziger Straße 15, 10117 Berlin-Mitte
U-Bahn U2 and U6 Stadtmitte, U2 Mohrenstraße
If you come from Checkpoint Charlie, cross Zimmerstraße, Mauerstraße is a diagonal street to the left of Friedrichstraße.
Other Contact: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (030) 202 940
Houseball, Museum of Communication in background.
This street named Mauerstraße was really interesting, as it did not only lead us to the Museum of Communication which we had not intended to visit but also past Bethlehemskirchplatz.
First you have no idea what this piece of modern art on the little square is all about. But it is much more than just a ball of something indefinite, held together by ropes. Even a ladder, chairs, and pots are attached to this ball-shaped conglomerate of various items. The name of the sculpture is “Houseball” and was created by the artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Brüggen. It symbolises with how little belongings once the first Bohemian immigrants arrived in Berlin, and founded their community in this area. They lived in exile there, having had to leave their Catholic homecountry because they were Protestants.
The sculpture is sitting at the site of those Bohemians’ former church named Bethlehemskirche. This church was built by those people from 1735 to 1737 and therefore also known as Bohemian Church.
It had a round floorplan with a diametre of about 15 metres. To all four points of the compass were the arms of the cross, and three had entrances to the church. The eastern end of the cross was shaped like a semi-circle and included the altar and the pulpit above. On the western side was the organ. At a height of 15 metres the dome started, and in total the church was 37.90 metres high. In World War II the church was damaged and cleared away.
At its former site you find the original floorplan marked in the pavement with coloured bricks. In 1999 the square was named Bethlehemkirchplatz after the church that once stood there. The “Houseball” is sitting right next to the floorplan on the pavement.
On this website you see the floormarkings rather well, and also the whole Houseball:
A look at the heroic Soviet army.
The 16 white marble sarcophagi – eight on each side – along the boundaries of the Soviet War Memorial complex in Treptower Park impressed me most.
As said earlier, some of the stories on those sarcophagi are ridiculous if you know how history went on. But at the time they were created they were the perfect description of war and peace, of grief and hope, and above all, they still reflect the feelings of the ordinary people who lost their homes and many loved ones.
I think they are impressive pieces of this kind of bombastic monumental art. Walking along the sarcophagi you can read the history of the war even if you do not understand neither Russian nor German. The reliefs tell the war history of the Soviet peoples.
The quotations of Stalin – in Russian on the inside towards the central Grove of Honour, in German towards the boundary – have caused political controversy, and I also wonder if the quotations of such a tyrant and murderer should be left at such a spot, even if it is testimony of an historic era. Stalin was no better than Hitler, and I imagine which protest it would cause if comments of Hitler’s Mein Kampf had been incorporated in a war memorial. I think this Stalin memory is politically too correct.
Each of the 16 sarcophagi has its own theme, for example: Germany’s attack, destruction and suffering in the Soviet Union, sacrifice of the Soviet people, support for the army, heroic army, heroic battle, sacrifice and agony of the army, victory and heroic death.
Between the streets Puschkinallee and Am Treptower Park, 12435 Berlin-Treptow
S-Bahn S41, S42, S8, S85, S9, station Treptower Park
Buses 166, 265, 365, stations Sowjetisches Ehrenmal and Herkomer Straße, also N 65 Klingerstraße and Rethelstraße
The free-style architecture of the Sixtus-Villa.
If you are heading to Viktoriapark in the suburb of Kreuzberg you will almost certainly walk past the Sixtus-Villa, a spectacular red brick building that reminds of a medieval knight’s castle.
This is the so-called Sixtus-Villa, named after Hans Sixtus (1907 – 1975), the former director (1945) and general director (1956) of the Schultheiss brewery (that BTW had several production sites and had started brewing in 1853 in Schönhauser Allee in the north). It was his private residence from 1953. After Sixtus’ death the building was used as laboratory of the brewery (from 1978). Beer production took place on site until 1993 when it was relocated to Indira-Gandhi-Straße in Lichtenberg/Pankow.
The old brewery buildings, designed by the architect Carl Teichen (1858 – 1903),
have become the centre of a new residential park named Viktoriaquartier in 1999. Only a few historic buildings have survived World War II, for example the Gotische Halle (Gothic Hall) with its church-like ribbed vaulting. The striking Sixtus-Villa with its asymmetric tower, was built in 1901, and the intention was in fact to make it look like a medieval castle. It was the brewery’s taproom and main entrance. The architecture is a kind of free style, the precursor of expressionism.
The brewery was founded in 1862 next to the amusement park Tivoli (founded in 1829) on the southern flanks of the Kreuzberg. Construction of the brewery buildings, then called Brauereigesellschaft Tivoli, took until 1873. In 1891 Schultheiss took over. They pumped water up from 120 metre deep wells. The complex included the traditional brewery facilities like malthouse and bottle cleaning, but also saddlery, joinery, painter shop, blacksmith, and a stable for 275 brewery horses.
Another interesting feature is that a vineyard has been planted, linking Viktoriapark and Viktoria-Quartier. There had already been such a vineyard in the past.
Methfesselstraße 28 – 48, Berlin-Kreuzberg
S-Bahn: S 1, S 2, S 25, U-Bahn U 7, station Yorckstraße
The big waterfall and the national monument.
Kreuzberg is not only a famous suburb with a high percentage of Turkish population but also a „mountain“. A funny name for an elevation of 66 metres above sea level. But it is the central city’s highest peak LOL
This “mountain” is the centre of a park named Viktoriapark that covers nearly 13 hectares. The name Kreuzberg (Cross Mountain) comes from the cross of the National Monument (Nationaldenkmal) that stands on top of the hill. It was designed by Schinkel and erected in 1821, reminding of the liberation wars against Napoleon (1813 – 1821). It has the shape of a cathedral tower.
It picturesquely sits above an idyllic 24 metre high waterfall, the waters falling into a pond below (near Großbeerenstraße). When you look up from there the monument looks much bigger than it really is. They illuminate it at night, and from there you have a nice view over the city.
The park is great for walking and playing, picnicking and relaxing. There also is a small wildlife park.
An interesting fact about Viktoriapark is that the hill was bare originally. Only from 1888 to 1894 the city’s chief garden planner started the transformation towards a mountain haven.
The big waterfall is only one feature of it. There are a lot of smaller waterfalls, and a rocky gorge named Wolfsschlucht. From 1913 to 1916 the park was extended to the west. In this process the huge lawns were laid. Later a sports ground, a playground and the wildlife park were added. Today the “Golgatha” with its huge beergarden (at the park entrance in Dudenstraße) attracts lots of people.
Kreuzbergstraße, 10965 Berlin - Kreuzberg
S-Bahn: S 1, S 2, S 25, U-Bahn U 7, station Yorckstraße
Three men, many molecules, one message.
This huge sculpture is standing in the river Spree, on the southern bank of the river, between the bridges Elsenbrücke and Oberbaumbrücke. It is just a short stroll to the west from S-Bahn station Treptower Park. The so called Treptowers, two not very exciting skyscapers of the Allianz insurance company, are nearby.
If you do not want to continue a rather boring and seemingly endless walk along the river to Oberbaumbrücke, go back to the S-Bahn station and take the bus (# 265) to Oberbaumbrücke. (Believe me, we walked LOL)
But now to the Molecule Man.
This is a substantial 30 metre high statue, weighing 45 tonnes. Although that big and heavy, it has a lightweight and transparent feel, thanks to the aluminium construction and the structure dotted with holes. It was created by the American artist Jonathan Borofsky, and has been on display since May 1999.
The three figures symbolise individuality and unity at a time. The figures are standing in the water individually but are joint around a virtual pole in the middle, at 120° angles between each of them. Additionally they look like just one figure from certain viewpoints and like two from others.
The intention of the artist was to remind the viewer “that both man and molecules exist in the world of probability and that finding wholeness and unity within this world remains the aim of any creative and spiritual tradition”. I could not have said it better LOL
What is the truth behind the scenes?
This photo effect at the East Side Gallery is also fascinating.
You look behind the scenes – into non-existing holes, behind fences, around corners. You create the third dimension on your one-dimensional photo by making the person in the second dimension have a special look at the paintings.
Just a tip because I like the photo – not for rating. Thanks!
Border Control under the best friends' kiss.
This is really great fun. You can become part of East Side Gallery if you stand at the right spot on photos.
You can shake hands with the former well-hated uniformed GDR checkpoint monsters, tickle Erich Honecker under the chin, so he stop the kissing with Breshnev, and so on.
I especially liked the humourous painting on the Wall. Such satire makes the events – bad as they were – even worse, and when you can laugh about it you get aware that this part of German history was not just horrible and inhumane but also ridiculous.
Mühlenstraße, between Oberbaumbrücke and Ostbahnhof
U-Bahn U 1, station Warschauer Platz
S-Bahn station Ostbahnhof
This is clearly Berlin’s most beautiful bridge, despite the nice statues on Schlossbrücke and other good constructions. You do not even think it is a bridge when you first see it. It looks more like a loan from Red Square in Moscow or St. Petersburg, a kind of long-stretched fairy-tale castle.
This spectacular bridge, made of red bricks, was built from 1894 to 1896 and served as one of the eight inner-city checkpoints after the separation of Berlin into West and East on 13 August 1961.
After difficult negotiations the first of four agreements (Passierscheinabkommen) between Berlin’s Senate and the GDR government was signed on 17 Dec 1963. In the following weeks – from 19 Dec 1963 until 4 Jan 1964 – tens of thousands of West-Berliners crossed Oberbaumbrücke for day visits to see their relatives in the East for the first time since the construction of the Wall. After the lifting of travel restrictions for GDR citizens on 9 November 1989, Oberbaumbrücke was also opened again, and the free citizens of the free state of GDR could finally step into real freedom.
Historically Oberbaumbrücke was already erected in 1724 as a wooden bridge, and over centuries it was Berlin’s longest bridge. The new construction with the seven vaults, viaducts and many arches was part of the construction of Berlin’s S-Bahn system (see also: Hackescher Markt). It had been badly damaged during World War II and due to its location right at the border it could only be reconstructed after the reunification.
The structure had to be strengthed for the trains. On the fifth anniversary of the fall of the Wall, on 9 Nov 1994, it was re-opened for traffic and pedestrians, and a year later the railway line was extended to Warschauer Straße.
On photo 2 you see a train on the bridge. Makes a nice contrast ;-)
Photo 3 is the view to Oberbaumbrücke from “our” restaurant in Schlesische Straße.
Photo 4 a spectacular contrast with a tiled building in the background.
U-Bahn/S-Bahn stations Schlesisches Tor and Warschauer Straße
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