Prenzlauer Berg
Image by Christian Thiele (APPER) under Creative Commons License.

Germany, Berlin Guide (A): Prenzlauer Berg

The former working-class district of Prenzlauer Berg has undergone a major transformation since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Once dilapidated, depressing and gray, this vibrant district in former East Berlin now sits at the center of city’s art, fashion and cultural scene. The rehabbed and freshly painted historic houses lining the wide Prussian-designed boulevards take you back to the 19th century, but with a contemporary edge.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: Prenzlauer Berg
Guide Location: Germany » Berlin
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km
Author: Patrick Lind
Author Bio: Patrick M. Lind has been freelance writing since 2007. He received a Master of Arts in history from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Middle East. Patrick has called many places home including Chicago, Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, Austin and California.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Wasser Turm
  • Kollwitz Platz
  • KulturBrauerei
  • Kastanienallee
  • Kauf dich Glücklich ‎
  • Mauerpark
  • El-Rief
  • Klub der Republik
1
Wasser Turm

1) Wasser Turm

The Wasser Turm, or water tower, is the definitive symbol of Prenzlauer Berg. Built in 1875, “Fat Herman,” as the locals lovingly called it, stands 30 meters tall and holds 1,200 cubic meters of water. In the early 1930s it was used as one of the Nazi Regime's first concentration camps. A plaque on the stairs at the corner of Kolmarerstrasse and Knaackstrasse commemorates the victims. Follow the path around the Wasser Turm and head up the stairs to the top of the complex for a good view of the rooftops of Prenzlauer Berg.
2
Kollwitz Platz

2) Kollwitz Platz

This area of Prenzlauer Berg centers around the square of the same name, though a majority of the shops, restaurants and cafes are found on Sredzkistrasse and Kollwitzstrasse. This area also served as a meeting point for many radicals during the socialist-era. After the Wall came down, West Germans flocked eastward in search of cheaper rents and alternative housing. Many landed here in Kollwitz Platz filling it with artists, musicians and hipsters. Since then they’ve all grown up and now you are more likely to hear the screams of children playing in the playground than the shouts of protest. Kollwitz Platz was also one of the first parts of East Berlin to undergo reconstruction during the 1990s, restoring it close to its pre-War Prussian grandeur.
3
KulturBrauerei

3) KulturBrauerei

At its original construction, the KulturBrauerei was nothing more than a small beer brewery with a pub on-site. After a change in ownership in 1853 it became the Schultheiss Brewery. A second change of ownership put forward the momentum for the construction of the massive complex you see before you. Franz Heinrich Schwechten, the designer of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in West Berlin, is responsible for the building’s design. In 1967 the brewery stopped producing beer. In 1974 it was dedicated as a historical monument. The plans for the new KulturBrauerei developed throughout the 1990s. It finally opened its doors in 2000. It now contains within the framework of the original building a cinema, numerous dance clubs, theaters, restaurants and bars and a grocery store. It also plays host to various cultural events.
4
Kastanienallee

4) Kastanienallee

Kastanienallee is sometimes referred to by the local people as “Casting Allee,” due to the high volumes of fashionistas and hipsters found prowling up and down the street. This area is known for its numerous designer and vintage clothing shops, trendy stores and seemingly endless bars and cafes making it one of the best spots in the city to catch a glimpse of Berlin’s latest fashions. Kastanienallee runs from Schoenhauser Allee to Fehrbelliner in Mitte.
5
Kauf dich Glücklich ‎

5) Kauf dich Glücklich ‎

This café has garnered itself a pretty healthy reputation from its 60 types of homemade waffles and 50 types of ice cream. Having grown from this single store, it now has seven locations throughout Germany. You can sit comfortably inside on vintage furniture straight from grandma’s house or outside and watch the people go by. Everything inside the restaurant, from the sofas to the plates, is for sale, which explains the name as it roughly translates as “Shop Yourself Happy.” Kauf dich Glücklich can get pretty crowded, particularly on weekends, with wait times of up to 30 minutes for a waffle. Regardless it is worth the stop.
6
Mauerpark

6) Mauerpark

What the Mauerpark (Wall Park) lacks in aesthetics it makes up for with its vibrant atmosphere. This park was once a no-man’s land as part of East Berlin’s Death Strip. The Berlin Wall ran the length of the park’s western boundary. This is evident by the symbolic bricks that cross the sidewalk and along Bernauer Strasse, and by the graffiti covered portion of the remaining sections of the inner Wall at the top of the hill to the east. Prior to this the park was home to the Old Nordbahnhof (North Railroad Station). During the 1990s it was designated a public park. On Sundays the park has a festival-like atmosphere with live music, karaoke and performances as well a large flea market with vendors selling everything from retro and vintage furniture to brand new sunglasses, books and t-shirts.
7
El-Rief

7) El-Rief

Easily one of Prenzlauer Berg’s best eateries, which is a tough distinction considering the competition, El-Rief specializes in Middle Eastern dishes like falafel, halloumi, hummus and shawarma. The comfortable inside gives diners the feeling of entering a Bedouin tent filled with Arabic music, oversized bench seats and large pillows. The menu is extensive, and they are always willing to specialize an order to fit your desires. After eating, enjoy a complimentary cup of Arabian tea.
8
Klub der Republik

8) Klub der Republik

Taking its name from the now demolished Palast der Republik in Mitte, Klub der Republik is a popular bar for both locals and tourists alike. What it lacks for looks on the outside, it makes up for when you go inside. The owners designed it with retro East German furnishings that lend it a hip feel without the kitsch. It may be small, but there is plenty of room to dance; DJs spin funk, soul, surf and electro-disco four nights a week (Wednesday through Sunday). To enter, go through the tunnel and up the stairs on the left the second floor.

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