The original part of Berlin includes Spree Island (the former Cölln) with Museum Island and the Fischerinsel (Fisher Island), Alt-Berlin with the Nikolaiviertel (Nicolas' Quarter), as well as Friedrichswerder and Neu-Cölln (not to be confused with the district of Neukölln).
Alt-Berlin (Old Berlin)
© Antje Kraschinski/BerlinOnline
© Stephan Herz
The old Berlin attracts mainly tourists. Its residents live in concrete high-rise buildings from the Soviet era or in one of the few apartments in the Nikolaiviertel.
Museum Island and City Palace
The Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses five museums plus the Lustgarten and the Berlin Cathedral, all on a very small space. The Palace of the Republic, the former government building of the GDR, stood on the other side. The historic City Palace that was originally located on this site is currently being rebuilt.
On the border to Alexanderplatz is the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall), the seat of the Governing Mayor of Berlin. The striking building was constructed between 1861 and 1869 based on the designs of Hermann Waesemann and owes its name to its red brick façade.
Not far away is the neighborhood Nikolaiviertel (Nikolas' Quarter), the origin of Berlin in the 13th century. However, there are hardly any original buildings left. One of them is the preserved historic St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche). The narrow streets of the neighborhood are paved according to old models. The area is a tourist magnet and features numerous restaurants, wine taverns, and souvenir shops. About 2000 inhabitants live here in about 800 apartments. There is also a landing pier for river cruises.
Townhouses and Concrete High-Rise Buildings
In recent years, townhouses based on the Amsterdam model have been built on part of the Friedrichswerder site between Kurstraße and Hausvogteiplatz. You will also find many prefabricated concrete buildings in Alt-Berlin, often with a historicising façade so that the buildings blend in with the rest of the cityscape in this part of the capital.