Berlin has many places to eat sausages and drink large wheat beers, but the best Berlin biergarten definitely is the Prater at the Kastanienallee. The beer garden is surrounded by large chestnut trees and young people sit next to elderly people on wobbly benches to drink a beer and eat a sausage, while toddlers run around. It is a small haven in the busy shopping streets of Prenzelberg.
First biergarten of Berlin
If you look at all the people walking by the beer garden, looking for vintage clothes, it is hard to imagine this place was in the middle of the countryside around Berlin. But in 1837 it was. When Berlin’s city center expanded and the countryside was covered with windmills to provide the people in the city with fresh vegetables, the hard working peasants wanted a drink to quench their thirst. The Prater was the first, and therefore the oldest beer garden of Berlin. In the Prater the hard working peasants could drink a large wheat beer. In 1852 you could order more than a beer. The Kalbo family who bought the place, made the Prater not only famous for it’s beers, but also for variete and volkstheater.
Plays about ‘small women crying’ soon became well known with the new inhabitants of the working class area. Theater remained important. In 1946 the Volksbuhne even moved to the Prater when their own building was being rebuild. During GDR times it also was a beloved place for artists and actors.
Volksbuhne and Prater
And it still is. The Volksbuhne often plays small theater plays in the wore-down theater hall. When they renovated the Volksbuhne a few years ago the Volksbuhne staged their plays at the small, ragged stage at the Prater. It added a lot of charm to the plays performed.
But outside the halls the theater continues. The biergarten is a perfect spot to drink and be entertained by all sorts of people under the chestnut trees.
Every quarter had it’s own Stadtbad, like Wedding and Mitte. But one of the most beautiful ones is Stadtbad Prenzlauer Berg at the Oderbergerstrasse. Big bellied Neptune, the god of the seas, welcomes you at the entrance. Fish, tortoises, crabs and octopuses swim along the façade of Stadtbad Prenzlauer Berg. German sculptor Otto Lessing made the stunning sea creatures.
The Kulturbrauerei was a vibrant place, back in 1842. Rattling bottles were filled to the brim with beer and people ran to make sure all thirsty Berliners got a sip of their favorite brew. Today it is still easy to spot where the bottles were made and filled and the beer brewed. But nowadays they brew culture at the Kulturbrauerei.
Not surprisingly, in 1890 bread was baked in the Brotfabrik with its remarkable yellow bricks. But the new owner in 1952 was not that into communist bread and fled to West-Berlin, like many other East-Germans. After that no more sweet rolls or rye breads were baked here. After the Wende the Brotfabrik became a house of culture.
Dicke Hermann is one of the landmarks of Prenzlauer Berg. When you enter the Rykestrasse the tall, yellow brick tower is hard to miss. The tower is remarkable for it’s size, but also for it’s history. Dicke Hermann was built in 1856 to provide the inhabitants with water. In 1933 it became a sinister location. Local Nazi’s used the engine room to torture people.
When the Berlin Wall was build, it ran right through the lives of Berliners in the area of Bernauer Strasse. The Bernauer Strasse was right in the middle of the border. When the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, the entrance of a few buildings was in the East. But if the inhabitants looked out of their windows, they saw West Berlin right beneath them.
The Mauerpark was no man’s land near the Berlin Wall. It’s hard to imagine nobody being able to walk or stroll here if you know what it looks right today. Children sled down the hill and in the summertime they swing here. On Sundays there is a famous flee market with vintage clothes and granny furniture. Only the colorful remains of the Berlin Wall remind of the old days.