Schöneberg is internationally renowned for its homosexual culture in its „Regenbogenkiez“. From the 1920s the area around Nollendorfplatz developed a gay-lesbian subculture. The famous nightclub „Eldorado“ was a popular meeting place of Marlene Dietrich, Claire Waldoff and Christopher Isherwood. In 1996, Schöneberg was the first district to raise the rainbow colours in front of the town hall, to mark the beginning of Berlin Pride Week. Together, the people of Schöneberg and Berlin are thus contributing to an atmosphere of liberal and enlightened urban culture. That makes us very proud.
Mayor of Tempelhof-Schöneberg
Der Regenbogenkiez – a „Kiez“ with its own identity
The district of Schöneberg has always been a popular living and entertainment quarter. Today, it is internationally renowned for its „Regenbogenkiez“ („Rainbow“-District“). From the beginning of the 20th century onwards, the homosexual scene in Berlin had one of its foci around Motzstraße, Nollendorfstraße, Eisenacher Straße and Fuggerstraße.
Nollendorfplatz, known locally as „Nolle“, is the centre of the area. Its neigbourhood is exceptionally diverse and has always been the living quarter to the culturally open and liberal bourgeoisie.
The quarter is home to numerous gay and lesbian-friendly pubs, restaurants and cafés, hotels and shops. Together they create a unique location of diversity and tolerance.
Its landmark is the cupola of Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn station which is illuminated in rainbow colours. Every year in June, during Pride Week, Schöneberg welcomes thousands of guests to the occasion of its gay-lesbian city festival as well as the citywide celebrated Christopher Street Day. The CSD has been celebrated in Berlin since 1979, as a demonstration for the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. Together the gay-lesbian city festival the CSD as well as Folsom Europe in September are main events in Schöneberg’s „Regenbogenkiez“.
The Regenbogenkiez first prospered between the 1910ths and 1920ies. In those days, artists and bohemians met in the local inns and theatres. From that period originates the „Metropol“, originally known as „Neues Schauspielhaus“ (New Playhouse). It was opened in 1906 and intellectual luminaries such as Christopher Isherwood met here. Isherwood first came to Berlin in 1929 and in his book „Goodbye Berlin“, the template for the musical „Cabaret“, he drew a compelling portrait of the libertine half-world of the capital city shortly before its downfall. The National Socialist takeover put an abrupt end to this place of „liberty“- the bars were closed and many of the gay and lesbian community were persecuted, murdered or deported.
After WWII, gay and lesbian life rose again in the district. Today the quarter is characterized by a mixture of old and post-war architecture. A popular residential area with its own flair, vibrant and international due to an interesting mix of privately owned shops and restaurants.
Schwules Museum (gay museum)
With its exhibitions, archives and research contributions, the gay museum is one of the biggest institutions in the world concerning the research, archiving and conveying of the history and culture of the LGBTIQ-Communities. Since its opening in 1985, the museum shows changing exhibitions about the lesbian, gay, trans*identity, bisexual and queer community’s biography, as well as the community’s culture and art.
- Lützowstraße 73, 10785 Berlin
Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday 2 pm – 6 pm, Thu 2 pm – 8 pm,
Saturday 2 pm – 7 pm, closed on Tuesdays
Approx. 15 minutes from Undergroundstation Nollendorfplatz
Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen (Memorial)
The memorial is located close to the other central memorials for the victims of NS-Terror. It stands in context with the memorial for the murdered Jewish, Sinti and Roma population as well as the victims of euthanasia killings during the time.
- Location: Ebertstraße, Berlin-Mitte,
U-Bhf. Potsdamer Platz, U2
The archive building was designed by Bauhaus founder Martin Gropius. It consists of the archive, a library and an exhibition on modern architecture, art and modern design. German art historian Hans Maria Wingler founded the archive in 1960 and his goal was to build up a collection concerning this era. Today the collection is a specialty amongst the museum landscape.
- Klingelhöferstraße 14, 10785 Berlin
Wed – Mon von 10 am bis 5 pm, closed on Tuesdays
Approx. 15 minutes from Undergroundstation Nollendorfplatz
In this cemetery, which is protected as a garden monument, you will find a number of historically significant tombs as well as a memorial to those who died of AIDS. Here you will find numerous burial places of gay artists such as Rio Reiser as well as other local celebrities from the gay com-
munity. Besides guided tours, exhibitions and readings, a café is run in the former cemetery keeper’s lodge. Approx. 600 m from trainstation Yorckstraße, S1, S2, S25.
Download your mini-guide for the Kieztour “Rainbow-District” (including map) here:
Kieztour "Regenbogenkiez (Rainbow-District)"
The design of the mini-guide is not barrier-free.
1. Undergroundstation Nollendorfplatz
Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn station is the starting point of the tour. Its steel cupola is illuminated in rainbow colours at night, which was installed in 2014 by light artist Moritz Welmerskirch. The cupola has since become the landmark of the „Regenbogenkiez“. The rainbow stela by artist Salomé on the traffic island on Nollendorfplatz also stands as a symbol for diversity and tolerance. At the southerly exit of the station, the „Rosa Winkel“ (Pink angle) memorial plaque remembers the persecution and murder of homosexuals during the Nazi reign.
A prominent building on the square is the „Goya“. The former „Neues Schauspielhaus“ (New Theatre) was built here from 1905-1906. It was used predominantly for pieces of the „light muse“. Numerous operettas by Walter Kollo premiered here, including his best known work „Wie einst im Mai“ (Maytime) with famous Schöneberg anthem „Das war in Schöneberg im Monat Mai“.
After the war, it became famous under its new name „Metropol“ and groups like „Depeche Mode“, Human League and O.M.D. played here.
Maaßenstraße is the promenade of the „beautiful and chilled“ in the quarter. Here in the bustling cafés and restaurants, residents, businessmen and curious visitors meet. Since 2015, Maaßenstraße is the first so-called „strolling zone“ in Berlin and traffic has been reduced here to create more space for urban living.
The weekly market on Winterfeldtplatz demands investigation with its wide choice and high quality, the market has made a name for itself beyond the district boundaries. Over 150 traders sell their merchandise of fresh food, flowers, clothes and more. Not to mention the many international culinary delights! Enjoy!
Of interest on Winterfeldtplatz are the residential block and gym from 1999 by architect Hinrich Baller, recognizable by the typical wavy balconies. In between them is the puppet theatre „Hans Wurst Nachfahren“.
- Market days: Wednesday 8 am – 2 pm and Saturday 8 am – 4 pm
4. Nollendorf- und Winterfeldtstraße
Discover this area and stroll through Nollendorf- and Winterfeldtstraße to be inspired by the choice of shops and services. Here you can still find owner-managed boutiques and extravagant stores, lovers of antiquities and jumble will also get their money’s worth.
Winterfeldtstraße 19-23: A mere 150 metres from Winterfeldtplatz is the location of the former telecommunications office. In its day, it was the largest telephone exchange in Europe. It was built during the 1920s in classic „Brick Expressionism“. Since 2013 the „Hubraum“, a creative hub of 8.000 sqm, has had its home here. It is a „Start-up“ incubator for company founders.
5. Motzstraße, Eldorado
Facilities offered on Motzstraße range from daily needs commodities, jumble and antiquities to gay clubs and bars. The organic supermarket „Eldorado“ on the corner of Kalckreuther Straße bears the name of the famous gay nightclub whose reputation even today remains the epitome of Berlin’s wild years of the „Golden Twenties“.
Walking along Motzstraße in a westerly direction will take you to Viktoria-Luise-Platz. It is one of the most beautiful historically reconstructed urban squares in Schöneberg. The square is lined by grand residential houses with restaurants and cafés in their front yards. It boasts lawn areas and
flowerbeds surrounding a central fountain. A particular eye-catcher is the historic U-Bahn station of the U4, designed and built by architect Alfred Grenander in 1904.
Further to the north you will reach Fuggerstraße, a place of cafés and scene bars plus the well-known nightclub „Connection“ or the „Prinzknecht“ pub. From here it is not far to Wittenbergplatz (U-Bahn station U2) and the famous shopping temple KaDeWe or return to Nollendorfplatz via Motzstraße.
Did you get inspired by the day-tour? Visit the „Regenbogenkiez“ at night and see how the quaint places become alive and bustling with an international crowd.