Kreuzberg: alternative Berlin
Kreuzberg is the alternative centre of Berlin. If you walk in this area, you’ll bump into a variety of people: hippies, immigrants, party people and hipsters. At some places the Berlin Wall enclosed Kreuzberg on three sides. Downpoint: nobody really wanted to live at the south east side of Kreuzberg during the Cold War. But it was also the perfect habitat for creating great art and music and a true place to be in Berlin.
Kreuzberg: Glamorous Bergmanstrasse vs Graffiti at Gorlitzer Bahnhof
It’s hard to describe Kreuzberg and do the district justice. Simply because the different area’s in Kreuzberg are very different. At Bergmannstrasse, for example, you might bump into an old hippie, looking for cool stuff in his or her apartment. Among the numerous shops are paintings in all the colors of the rainbow and lots of Buddha’s for the restless souls to be tamed. The nearby Viktoriapark is the perfect place to be if you’re walking your dog and want to enjoy a calm, beautiful view on the rest of Kreuzberg and Berlin.
Tempelhof, strictly not Kreuzberg, but so close it feels like Xberg, gives you the ultimate urban freedom at Tempelhofer Freiheit. It’s now a park where you can skate, bike, run, let your kite climb higher and higher in the wind of Berlin or grill sausages in the summer time. If you take a closer look while you run on the cracked concrete, you will notice the park used to be a runway for one of the biggest airports of Europe. Berlin wouldn’t be Berlin if the old airport didn’t have a strange and sad history. The nazis designed the place, and there even was a concentration camp hidden on the premises at World War Two where East Berlin leaders such as Erich Honecker were being tortured. After the war the airport ended up in West Berlin and it became very important for the inhabitants of West Berlin when the East German government locked down West Berlin. The people of West Berlin didn’t starve to death because airplanes landed and took of again at Tempelhof with food for all West Berliners on board. That’s food for your brain while your working on your condition at Tempelhofer Freiheit.
If you stroll along the river, deeper into Kreuzberg, you will see a different side of Kreuzberg. At Halleschen Tor, for example, you can walk on the old graveyard where composers and fairy tale writers have their final resting place. The graves are marked by war, but that’s not the most remarkable part of it. If you are lucky, you will meet the two foxes that inhabit these premises. Just be quit and you can see them playing on the old gravestones.
Kottbuser Tor in Kreuzberg is weird in a different way. It has ugly, grey concrete flats. But Kotti, as Berliners call this area has more to offer as well. It’s busy with all sorts of small cafes and close to the metro station there are also old and beautifull houses. It buzzes with people going out here, drinking beers and eating kebab. It’s hard to imagine this area was so close to the Berlin Wall nobodt really wanted to live there during that time.
If you lived near Gorlitzer Bahnhof or Schlesisches Tor you could spot the Berlin Wall three times around you. People living here were literally cornered. But being cut of from the rest of the world didn’t mean nothing happened. On the contrary. Squatters lived here, as well as artists, performers and immigrants. They thrived at the battered buildings in this area that they now call proudly SO 36, after the postal code. It still is a place to be if you love art and a raw lifestyle. Gorlitzer Park is more a meeting point for urban artists and graffiti lovers than a park. And if you are more into tasting this alternative lifestyle than graffiti, check out the small restaurants or cafes in this area, such as Burgermeister, a burger joint in a former loo at Oberbaumstrasse 8. Or go to the Turkenmarkt (Turkish Market), at the Maybachufer and stock up on the best ingredients the Turkish community of Kreuzberg has to offer. They call this area Little Istanbul for a good reason.
Schlesisches Tor probably is the most alternative part of Kreuzberg. During the Cold War nobody wanted to live in this area. Now people dance the night away at the U-bahn of Schlesisches Tor and at the many battered clubs in this area. Schlesisches Tor is a great place to check out the best alternative art and music of Berlin.