Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin

Wednesday, 4 October 2023 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Architecture, Berlin
Reading Time:  6 minutes

Stargarder Straße © Stevy76/cc-by-2.5

Stargarder Straße © Stevy76/cc-by-2.5

Prenzlauer Berg is a locality of Berlin, forming the southerly and most urban district of the borough of Pankow. From its founding in 1920 until 2001, Prenzlauer Berg was a district of Berlin in its own right. However, that year it was incorporated (along with the borough of Weißensee) into the greater district of Pankow.

From the 1960s onward, Prenzlauer Berg was associated with proponents of East Germany‘s diverse counterculture including Christian activists, bohemians, state-independent artists, and the gay community. It was an important site for the peaceful revolution that brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989. In the 1990s the borough was also home to a vibrant squatting scene. It has since experienced rapid gentrification.

Prenzlauer Berg is characterized by Wilhelmine buildings, that were erected at the turn of the 20th century (1889 to 1905). Over 80% of all housing in this area was constructed before 1948, with the oldest building still standing being from 1848 at Kastanienallee 77. Though substantial, there was less war-related destruction here than in other parts of the city, which were almost entirely wiped out by the allied bombing campaign.

Apart from the apartment buildings in the area around Ostseestraße built in the 1950s characterized by the architectural style of Socialist Classicism, the borough was mostly left alone by Socialist city planners until the 1980s when prestigious high rise buildings were built in Ernst-Thälmann-Park.

During German Reunification, the borough’s residential areas were characterized by dilapidated grey facades that had not seen a coat of paint since the 1930s. In the 1990s the buildings that belonged to state-owned housing associations were sold to private investors, who had them renovated and raised the rents. Most of the borough’s original inhabitants could not afford the increased costs and have since moved away. In the 21st century the many empty lots that were sites for the street culture integral to the bohemian character of the borough were filled by high-class condominiums.

Kastanienallee/U-Bahnhof Eberswalder Straße © Abaris/cc-by-sa-3.0 Stargarder Straße © Stevy76/cc-by-2.5 Theater unterm Dach © Angela Monika Arnold/cc-by-sa-2.0-de Wohnstadt Carl Legien, Gubitzstraße, UNESCO Heritage © MichZilla/cc-by-sa-4.0 Prenzlauer Berg © Christian Thiele/cc-by-sa-3.0 Former brewery - Pfefferberg am Senefelderplatz © Heinzi/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Wohnstadt Carl Legien, Gubitzstraße, UNESCO Heritage © MichZilla/cc-by-sa-4.0
Today, Prenzlauer Berg forms a nearly homogeneous historic building area. Over 300 buildings remain protected as historic monuments, like the municipal swimming pool at Oderberger Straße and the breweries on Milastraße and Knaackstraße. The borough is famous for its restaurants and bars. Although places that provide a truly traditional Berlin staple are few and far between, there is a vast array of restaurants offering Arab, Turkish, Vietnamese, Tex-Mex, and Italian cuisine, especially around Kastanienalle, Kollwitzplatz, and Helmholtzplatz. Nightlife concentrates around U-Bahn station Eberswalder Straße. The area around the intersections of Schönhauser Allee, Danziger Straße, Eberswalder Straße, Kastanienallee and Pappelallee has been associated with youth culture since the 1950s, and was immortalised in the DEFA film Ecke Schönhauser.

With regard to urban planning, the district affords a relatively uniform picture. It is predominantly characterized by five-story, multiple dwelling units in closed blocks. Thanks to the long property lots, the blocks, more often than not, are large and have abundant backyards, some having a perimeter of more than a kilometer.

Notable buildings include the large churches of the district, of which Gethsemane Church (designed by August Orth and built in 1891–1893) at Stargarder Straße is best known for its role in the peaceful revolution that brought down the Wall in 1989. Its 66-metre (217 ft) steeple is surpassed locally only by that of Segenskirche on Schönhauser Allee (79 metres (259 ft)) and of Immanuelkirche on Prenzlauer Allee (68 metres (223 ft)). School buildings planned by Ludwig Ernst Emil Hoffmann (1852–1932) also stand out in the area.

The largest synagogue in Germany is that on Rykestraße. Construction began at the end of 1903 and it was dedicated on 4 September 1904. During the Third Reich the building escaped the antisemitic November pogrom in 1938, for the synagogue was tightly surrounded by residential buildings. The synagogue was desecrated and confiscated in April 1940. In July 1945, it reopened for services, underwent several renovations (1952/1953, 1976, 1987/1988) and on the occasion of its 100th anniversary it was restored to its original splendor. In the Jewish Cemetery on Schönhauser Allee, opened in 1827, there are more than 22,500 graves and 750 family tombs, including the graves of David Friedländer, Max Liebermann, Leopold Ullstein, Ludwig Bamberger, Eduard Lasker, and Giacomo Meyerbeer.

A landmark in Prenzlauer Berg is the former water tower “Fat Hermann” at the corner of Rykestraße and Knaackstraße. Built in 1877, it is the first water tower in Berlin. Another notable building is the Zeiss-Großplanetarium on Prenzlauer Allee, opened in 1987.

In the west, bordering the borough of Wedding and adjacent to Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark, is a stretch of public green area called Mauerpark (Wall park). It consists of the former border zone, or “death strip” between both walls that separated East- and West Berlin. Before the war, the terrain was a site of a freight station. After reunification the area was turned into a public park, home to a weekly flea market and open air concerts. It attracts thousands of visitors on summer weekends.

Read more on VisitBerlin.de – A shopping and browsing tour of Prenzlauer Berg, Wikivoyage Berlin/East Central and Wikipedia Prenzlauer Berg (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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