TEXT AND PHOTO BY CESARE ZUCCA –
Walking around the Brandenburg Gate and taking photos in front of the Reichstag or under the Fernsehturm, the famous tower in Alexander Platz, are typical activities for a traditional tourist visiting Berlin. Of course, they are icons of the city, but I will help you dig a little deeper to discover things beyond the usual tourist attractions. You will discover things and places that will never cease to amaze you with their undergound culture, their quirks, their hidden gems and their secrets. Balanced between urban and green spaces, secret escapes, hidden art and culture await you here. Are you ready? Here are my 20 moves.
1 Bats and dinosaurs One of the main reasons to visit the Spandau Citadel is the encounter with bats. The vaults of the fortress are home to over 11,000 different species that you can even feed. The Citadel staff accepted their presence willingly, even creating an observation area and guided tours for visitors. Looking for other oddities? Discover Spreepark, an old abandoned amusement park. It housed games, rides, and even some life-sized dinosaur statues. Although the park is closed to the public, it is sometimes possible to book guided tours on weekends, or … (but it is illegal) to visit it alone, as many locals and tourists do.
2 Strolling along the river Head towards the S-Bahnhof Bellevue and descend towards the Spree. From here, a nice walk along the river awaits you to East Berlin, dotted with famous buildings including Schloss Bellevue, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, the Volksbuhne, the Kanzleramt and the Museum Island which boasts a set of five museums. And then the Berliner Dom towards the Nikolaiviertel. neighborhood known as the “old Berlin”, as it was the first residential area ever built in the capital (around 1200 BC). Walking through its medieval streets, you will meet the famous Nikolaikirche, the Gründungsbrunnen, the Ephraim-Palais and the Knoblauchhaus.
3 A market not to be missed In the Kreuzberg district you will find the historic Markthalle Neun, opened in 1891, a true triumph of regional and affordable food. Among the stops: the “Street Food Thursday”, or a traditional German breakfast at the “Breakfast Market” every third Sunday of the month, or treat yourself to a dessert at the “Naschmarkt”
4 Spandauer Zitadelle Located between the Havel River and the Spree River, the Spandauer Zitadelle is a very well preserved ancient fortress, built in 1197 to protect the city of Spandau. The citadel is now used for cultural purposes and serves as a museum and venue for various outdoor events (some things not to be missed are the annual Citadel Music festival in May and the medieval “Easter Knight Spectacular” festival during Easter.
5 Eight courtyards Explore the historic Hackesche Höfe Berlin is full of hidden gems, but these eight beautifully restored courtyards in Mitte are little oases away from the busy streets, Great place for shopping in boutiques or for a coffee in one of the many trendy cafes. main attraction, the Chamäleon Variety Theater which currently hosts the spectacular Out Of Chaos acrobatic show
6 Are you looking for a little treasure? Every Sunday, the stalls of the Mauerpark (near the Gesundbrunnen metro station) await you. Vintage clothing, vinyls, semi-precious jewels, knick-knacks and an infinity of collectible bric-brac In the afternoon, those who want to sing can perform at the Bearpit Karaoke, where everyone gathers in elisalarante performances.
7 Robot & Company At 39 Rosenthaler Strasse, in the second courtyard of Haus Schwarzenberg, in the heart of the Mitte district, there is a surrealist underground world. Monsterkabinett inhabited by an assortment of mechanical robotic monsters, assembled like computer-controlled art and sound installation. thrilling. Brrrrr …
8 Food and atmosphere At 47 Grolmanstrasse 47, in the Charlottenburg area, is Diener Tattersallun, a small restaurant with a Brechtian atmosphere where time seems to have stopped. Frequented by artists and bohemians, few tables, soft lights, old prints and yellowed photos on the walls. The menu is in German only. The house specialty (and my favorites) are the königsberger klopse, veal meatballs in lemon glaze and capers. served with potatoes and beets, really delicious. Better to book a corner table, to enjoy, in addition to the food, the somewhat decadent atmosphere of the Berlin of yesteryear.
For those who, like me, love the BauHaus Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin style in Niederkirchnerstraße 7, at the corner of Stresemannstr. 110. The building, inaugurated in 1881 as a museum of applied arts, was designed by Martin Gropius (grandson of Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus movement). These days it hosts Walking Through Walls, an exhibition marking the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, one of the most symbolic events of the 20th century, questioning the experience of vulnerability and anxiety caused by the structures of power that thrive in the confinement and segregation. The exhibition, which covers a wide range of media including painting, sculpture, photography, film, installation and performance, brings together 28 renowned international artists, including Marina Abramović and Ulay, Jose Dávila, Dora García, Zahrah Al Ghamdi.
16 The smallest nightclub in Berlin Berlin’s cult nightclub is the mega club Berghain, a former powerhouse. Here the most famous DJs alternate and the music booms until dawn. Long queues to enter so often you give up also because (for those few who know it, but now you are there too …) just around the corner there is the smallest disco in Berlin, a real secret place without queues or bouncers. The teledisko is a “club” inside a telephone booth in the nearby and freezing RAW Gelände; between the stretch of graffitied urban buildings there is a gilded telephone booth, which also serves as a disco.
17 The hidden gallery It has no website or official Facebook page: it’s a hidden hangout, a clandestine space that hosts cult galleries, indie concerts and alternative performances. Tucked away among the 1970s-inspired buildings at Kottbusser Tor, this secret club can be found by looking for the door covered in stickers and a sign reading “Schatz EV Schulaufgabenzirkel”; from here, take the stairs to the second floor. Oh I forgot to whisper your name and address: West Germany Skalitzer Straße 133 in the Kreuzber area. Good hunting!
18 1920s Welcome to the Ballhaus Berlin, Chausseestraße 102, where the “wild twenties” of the Weimar days blend harmoniously with the spirit and style of today, as if it were a window into the past, It hosts a wide range of events and is the perfect place to wear dance shoes and spend an evening of partying as if it were 1920. The main attraction is the Tischtelefonen which is placed on the tables to allow guests to flirt with each other while remaining seated.