Prenzlauer Berg in Berlin
Prenzlauer Berg is a locality of Berlin, in the borough of Pankow.
Until 2001, Prenzlauer Berg was a borough of Berlin; in that year it was included (together with the former borough Weißensee) in the borough of Pankow.
After German reunification in 1990 Prenzlauer Berg became a centre for more bohemian Berlin youth, while more recently it has experienced gentrification.
Prenzlauer Berg is a portion of the Pankow district in northeast Berlin. On the west and southwest it borders Mitte, on the south Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, on the east Lichtenberg, and on the north Weißensee and Pankow.
Geologically, the district lays entirely on the Barnim glacial deposit and borders from the southwest (to Mitte) on the Berlin glacier valley, which was formed in the Ice Age.
The highest point of the district is 91 meters above sea level in the northwest of Volkspark Prenzlauer Berg. This mountain came into being after World War II as one of the debris piles after the gathering of rubble from the city center and the following rebuilding.
In Prenzlauer Berg there are no more green areas except for a small lake in Volkspark Prenzlauer Berg and a public pool in Ernst-Thälmann-Park.
Prenzlauer Berg is characterized by old buildings, the majority of which come from the beginning of the 20th century (1889 to 1905). Over 80% of all housing in this area sprung up before 1948, the oldest building still standing being from 1848 at 77 Kastanienallee. In the second World War, relatively few buildings were destroyed in comparison to other areas of the city. The area was neglected in the time of the German Democratic Republic and the last ruins were cleared away only at the beginning of the 1970s. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent German Reunification, the dilapidated structures in many areas were rehabilitated and empty lots were since the middle of the 1980s closed up.
Today, Prenzlauer Berg forms a nearly homogeneous historic building area. Over 300 buildings remain protected as historic monuments, like the municipal swimming pool at Oderberger Straße and the breweries on Milastraße and Knaackstraße. The central area is characterized by restaurants and bars. The typical Berlin cuisine concentrates especially on Kastanienalle around Kollwitzplatz and Helmholtzplatz. The center of nightlife is the region around the U-Bahn station Eberswalder Straße at the intersections of Schönhauser Allee, Danziger Straße, Eberswalder Straße, Kastanienallee and Pappelallee. These intersections and the surrounding area are called "Ecke Schönhauser" ("Schönhauser Corner"). This older Berlin appellation was used as the title for the DEFA film from 1957 and thereby became generally known:
With regard to urban planning, the district affords a relatively uniform picture. It is predominantly characterized by five-story, multiple dwelling units in closed blocks. Thanks to the long property lots, the blocks, more often than not, are very large and have abundant backyards, some having a perimeter of more than a kilometer.
Notable buildings are the large churches of the district, of which Gethsemane Church of August Orth at Stargarder Straße (1891–1893) is the best known. Its 66-meter steeple is exceeded by the 79 meters of the steeple of Segenskirche on Schönhauser Allee and the 68-meter steeple of Immanuelkirche on Prenzlauer Allee. Also, the representative school buildings planned by Ludwig Ernst Emil Hoffmann (1852–1932) stand out in the area.
The largest synagogue in Germany is that on Rykestraße. Construction began at the end of 1903 and it was dedicated on 4 September 1904. The building escaped the November pogrom in 1938, for the synagogue was tightly surrounded by residential buildings. The synagogue was desecrated and confiscated in April 1940. In July 1945 it reopened for services, underwent several renovations (1952/1953, 1976, 1987/1988) and on the occasion of its 100th anniversary it was restored to its original splendor. In the Jewish Cemetery on Schönhauser Allee, opened in 1827, there are more than 22,500 graves and 750 family tombs, including the graves of David Friedländer, Max Liebermann, Leopold Ullstein, Ludwig Bamberger, Eduard Lasker und Giacomo Meyerbeer.
A Prenzlauer Berg landmark is the former water tower "Thick Hermann" at Rykestraße corner of Knaackstraße from the year 1877, which was the first water tower in Berlin. Another remarkable building is the Zeiss-Großplanetarium on Prenzlauer Allee, opened in 1987.
In the west of the district, north of the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Sportpark, is Mauerpark. This public green area was left when the area of the primary freight station was seized for the building of the Berlin Wall between Nordkreuz and Bernauer Straße. Thus, for 40 years another use was prohibited.
Prenzlauer Berg was developed during the second half of the 19th century based on an urban planning design from 1862 by James Hobrecht, the so-called Hobrecht-Plan for Berlin. Envisioned as a working-class district, its tenement houses (in German: Mietskasernen) were mainly inhabited by intellectuals, artists, and students in the former German Democratic Republic. Since German reunification, Prenzlauer Berg's urban apartment block structures have, for the most part, been renovated. This and rising property values have led to more affluent residents moving into some areas of the borough.
Older buildings like the water tower, near Kollwitzplatz, or the Prater Beer Garden in Kastanienallee, as well as the old breweries still give an impression of the days when Prenzlauer Berg was part of so-called Steinernes Berlin (Rocky Berlin) as described by author Werner Hegemann in 1930.
Prenzlauer Berg today
Countless pubs, restaurants, cafés, galleries and little shops create a day and nightlife atmosphere unrivalled in the rest of Berlin. Along with Schöneberg and Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg is a focal point of the Berlin art scene. Along with Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg it is also a popular neighbourhood with the student population.
Prenzlauer Berg is one of the most popular districts in Berlin, is one of Berlin's prettiest neighbourhoods, still central, yet quieter than Berlin Mitte. Much of Prenzlauer Berg escaped damage in the second world war and post war redevelopment. Nowadays Prenzlauer Berg offers trendy shopping with many streetstyle fashion designers selling their wares in trendy boutiques.
Prenzlauer Berg has become famous for being one of the few places in Germany where there has actually been a baby boom in recent years. There is an abundance of playgrounds Helmholtzplatz, Kollwitzplatz, kitas (child daycare centers) and shops selling toys and second hand children's clothing. However, the birthrate is not higher than elsewhere in Germany. Instead, the impression of a high number of children is based on the large percentage of people between 20 and 40 years who are potential parents of young children.
Prenzlauer Berg has recently become a popular area for the current wave of American and European immigrants into Berlin, many of whom are artists who have moved to Berlin in search of the cheap downtown apartments and studio space which are very hard to find in other capital cities and 'centres for the arts' like New York, London and Paris but which are abundant in Berlin. Conversations in English can often be heard in the street cafes along the Kastanienallee.
Kollwitzplatz and Helmholtzplatz have weekly street markets, and the former breweries Kulturbrauerei, Pfefferberg and Kastanienallee are the hot spots of interest.
Places of interest
- Gethsemane Church, former meeting place of the resistance in the GDR
- Helmholtzplatz and Kollwitzplatz on market days
- Jewish cemetery on Schönhauser Allee, where painter Max Liebermann and composer Giacomo Meyerbeer are buried
- Mauerpark (former location of the Berlin wall)
- Rykestrasse Synagogue
- Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg (water tower), designed by Henry Gill, constructed by the English Waterworks Company and finished in 1875.
- Map of Prenzlauer Berg in 1836
- Map of Prenzlauer Berg in 1893
- Map of Prenzlauer Berg in 1961
- Map of Prenzlauer Berg in 1989
- tic-berlin: tourist & historical information about Prenzlauer Berg
- Prenzlauer Berg Nachrichten (the local online newspaper in German)
- Virtual e-Tour Mauerpark
- Virtual e-Tour Helmholtzplatz
- Private website about life in the "kiez", history and landmarks (including maps and satellite view)
- Synagogue in Rykestrasse prior to its present restauration
- Photograph of the water tower – Detail 1 Detail 2
- BBC article about the baby boom in Prenzlauer berg
- Herald Tribune Article about Berlin and Prenzlauer Berg