Kieztour: Schöneberg North
Potsdamer Straße has been witness to the eventful history of Berlin. Today, the area around this important magistrale is colourful and diverse yet still authentic. This is reflected by the local shops, cultural as well as a varied range of culinary offerings.
I wish you a pleasant stay in Schöneberg’s „uncombed“ North.
Mayor of Tempelhof-Schöneberg
Schöneberg North - an area with urban charm
Originally a sleepy village outside the gates of Berlin, later a well-known amusement quarter and meeting place of artists and bohemians during the roaring twenties and through to recent German history – all those eras have left their traces in this area. Enjoy the rough charm of Schöneberg north and get to know a part of Berlin that still authentically reflects everyday life of ordinary people in the capital.
Starting point is the U-Bahn station Kurfürstenstraße (U1). The tour runs south, in the direction of Kleistpark and from there you have plenty of possibilities to explore the district further. You can also easily combine different parts of the tours on offer and create your own walk through our district.
Life on Potsdamer Straße was, and still is a kaleidoscope of Berlin life. Built from 1790 to 1792, it was the first fortified causeway in Prussia. From the beginning, literates and poets felt at home here: Joseph von Eichendorff, the epitome of romantic poetry, lived at different addresses on this street. In the 1920s, the rea around this lively road axis became a famous location for publishing houses and galleries. Rowohlt and Fischer, as well as famous satire magazines „Kladderadatsch“ and „Der Sturm“ were based here. After WWII, the daily newspaper „Tagesspiegel“ had its home here until 2009.
Before and after the war, the quarter was famous amongst night revellers. A red light district developed around Kurfürstenstraße and „Bülowbogen“, the area under the railroad arches. Claire Waldoff, famous chanteuse of the time and probably the first entertainer to combine a suit and bob hairstyle was admired here by Berliners during the 1920s. The artist, who openly lived in a lesbian relationship and performed in the most famous cabarets and venues in the quarter, was loved by famous Berlin caricaturist Heinrich Zille and hated by Goebbels, the infamous Nazi minister of propaganda. With the division of Berlin in 1961, the northern part of Potsdamer Straße became no-man’s land and lost its significance as a major shopping street.
As with the neighbouring district Kreuzberg, Schöneberg was also the location of street riots during the 1980s. The reason was indiscriminate redevelopment at the time, which led to the destruction of numerous historic buildings in the area. One of the epicentres of the demonstrations was Potsdamer Straße.
Today „Potse“, its nickname amongst its inhabitants, is once more a major road axis in the heart of the city. It is again becoming a popular spot for artists and galleries as well as the creative industries.
Visit the Court of Appeals
Telefon: (030) 9015-2290
HAUS am KLEISTPARK (gallery)
Today the former Botanical Museum houses the Music School of the district and an upstairs gallery, which is used by the District’s arts department. They offer a program of art and historico-cultural exhibitions and readings.
Entrance is free. The gallery is on the second floor.
No disabled access.
- Grunewaldstrasse 6 – 7, Tuesday to Sunday 10 am – 19 pm
Park am Gleisdreieck
This park was completed in 2013 and offers space for sports, play and recreation. A place of interest is the intercultural garden as well as the „Nature-experience-area“ in the eastern section.
- Entrance to the park is from Underground-Station Bülowstraße or Kurfürstenstraße.
Alter St.-Matthäus-Friedhof (old cemetery)
Discover this garden monument with its approx. 60 graves of honour. The churchyard is the resting place of luminaries such as the Brothers Grimm or famous physician/pathologist Rudolf Virchow. This is also the Memorial site for those lost to AIDS. Since 2006, the society EFEU e.V. ensures the preservation of this natural and cultural monument. Besides guided tours, exhibitions and readings, a café is operated in the old cemetery keeper’s house.
- Alter Sankt-Matthäus-Kirchhof
Großgörschenstraße 12, 10829 Berlin
Approximately 600 m from S-Bahn Yorckstraße.
Download your mini-guide for the Kieztour “Schöneberg North” (including map) here:
Kieztour: Schöneberger Norden
The design of the mini-guide is not barrier-free.
1. Potsdamer Straße
Starting point is U-Bhf. Kurfürstenstraße (U1). Kurfürstenstraße and Bülowstraße cross over Potsdamer Straße in east-westerly direction. This area has been known for its street prostitution and night clubs – since the 1920s. Then and now, rooms were sublet to „easy girls“. In those days mothers or daughters would often work as prostitutes to try and secure a living for their families. In her book „Our daily Bread“, writer Clara Viebig drew a compelling picture of life in those times. Erdmann Graeser, a popular Berlin writer at the turn of the century, wrote about the lives of ordinary people at that time. His famous work „The Koblanks – Story of a Berlin Family“, was a TV-sucess in Germany.
Stroll through the colourful street life and stop for a drink or a bite to eat in one of the cafés or restaurants. Cross over Bülowstraße at the U-Bahn station, which was built in the 1920s and continue along Potsdamer Straße in a southerly direction.
Continue until you reach the „Pallaseum“ at the corner of Pallasstraße. Until 1973 this was the location of the „Sportpalast“, where Joseph Goebbels proclaimed the „Total War“ in 1943. The so-called „Pallasseum“ with over 500 flats, was built over Pallasstraße and the high-rise bunker. In the 1970s, the apartment complex was seen as the paragon of modern living. Through allocation errors, the block became a social flashpoint.
Today, the area has undergone a change, thanks to successful management. The numerous satellite dishes on the balconies were turned into an art installation, which was accomplished by artist Daniel Knipping and the inhabitants. The building is now the most photographed housing complex in Berlin.
Left of the „Pallasseum“ stands the high-rise bunker. It was constructed in the years 1943 to 1945 by Soviet forced labour and only built to a shell structure. An Information panel gives details of its history.
Continue down Potsdamer Straße towards Kleistpark. To your right, you will pass so-called Kathreiner House. Architect Bruno Paul designed the building at Number 186 in the style of „New Objectivity“. It was finished in 1930 and was home to the Kathreiner malt coffee factory. Together with the main administrative building of Berlin Transport next door, built between 1938/39 by Arthur Vogdt, the ensemble is a true antithesis to the Königskolonnaden (King’s colonnades) which form the entrance to Kleistpark.
Take a stroll through the colonnades into the protected park area and enjoy this oasis in between the hustle and bustle of the city. Built between 1777 and 1780, the colonnades formerly stood at „Königsbrücke“ next to the Berlin city palace. They are important structures in the style transition between Rococo and Classicism. They were moved to their current location in 1910. Originally laid out in 1679, Kleistpark started as the royal kitchen garden. It later became the royal pleasance and was finally transformed into the first botanical garden in Berlin. This was the working place of botanist Adelbert Chamisso. Due to space constraints, the botanical garden was transferred to its present location in Berlin Dahlem towards the end of the 19th century. Some of the trees still survived today.
6. Kammergericht (Court of Appeal)
On the westerly side of the park you will find the „Kammergericht“ (Court of Appeals), in front of it you see the two sculptures „Horse tamers“ by Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg, about 1846. They werea gift from czar Nikolaus I. to his brother in law Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia.
The is the oldest German court that has been operating continuously. It is one of the largest higher regional courts in Germany and was first mentioned in 1468. It has been based at its current location since 1913. From 1944 to 1945 it was the location of the propaganda trials against the participants of the assassination attempt on Hitler – Operation Valkyrie, 20th July 1944. At the end of the war the building was the seat of the Allied Control Council until 1948. Visits are possible, view the „Tips“ section below.
Possibilities from here:
Walk through Heinrich-von-Kleist-Park across Grunewaldstraße to Akazienstraße. A multitude of little shops, restaurants and cafés awaits you. Discover the special mix of creative to alternative and mundane to exclusive atmosphere which is typical for this „Kiez“.
Going to Winterfeldtplatz and experience the vibrant and colourful atmosphere of the so-called „Regenbogenkiez“, the gay and lesbian community of Schöneberg. Close by you find the KaDeWe for luxury shopping facilities at Tauentzienstraße and reach Kurfürstendamm within some minutes of walk.
- Underground-Station Nollendorfplatz, U1, U2 and U4
- from Akazienkiez: Underground-Station Eisenacher Straße, U7