Charlottenburg: The chic and elegant side of Berlin

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Oscar Palmer

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Charlottenburg: The chic and elegant side of Berlin
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    When the town of Charlottenburg turned into a bourgeois center, it became a cluster of villas for Berlin entrepreneurs. It was an industrial force and the richest city in Prussia. Together with the districts of Schöneberg e Wilmersdorf, was part of the New west (new west), the local commercial area that opposed the Mitte district, ever since the center of Berlin. Its department stores, large commercial streets, training institutes and academies were envied.

    At that time, Charlottenburg defended its independence with all its strength and, when the project was born to create the Greater Berlin by unifying neighboring cities and municipalities, the neighborhood responded with the proposal of a Greater Charlottenburg, even if in the end it was forced to surrender.

    What to see in Charottenburg

    In the 20s and 30s, the district was home to Berlin's buzzing cultural life, made up of famous cafes and meeting places for intellectuals and artists, as well as theaters, cinemas and renowned cabarets. Then, the Second World War almost completely destroyed the whole eastern part of the city, that of Zoo and New west.

    In fact, in Charlottenburg you can visit the Gedächtniskirche or, more correctly, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Memorial Church of Emperor William), of which only a tower remains in the form of a ruin that overlooks the piazza di Breitscheidtplatz. All that remains of the beautiful neo-Romanesque church, partially destroyed by bombing and thus left to symbolize the horrors of war.

    A few minutes walk from the square, you reach the well-known Europa Center shopping mall, which today stands on the ruins of the old Romanisches Café, once a famous meeting place for artists.

    Symbol of progress and a significant part of the landscape is theErnst-Reuter-Platz, the large square dedicated to the first mayor of West Berlin and surrounded by monumental buildings from the post-war period today used as offices and a playground for students and workers involved in scientific and cultural projects. To the east of the square is in fact the Technical University Berlin, the polytechnic university of the capital.

    Even in the period of division and diversification of the country into two zones, the Charlottenburg district it seemed to slap the collectivism of socialist Berlin. Luxurious shops and department stores like the famous one KaDeWe, followed one another on the KurfĂĽrstendamm (called by the abbreviation Ku'damm by the Berliners), and on the Tauentzienstrasse.

    Two avenues, one an extension of the other, a sublime symbol of Western capitalism which, even today, are the shopping streets par excellence. The area is swarming with people walking, in a succession of lights and shop windows, luxurious cafes and restaurants. Even if, it has definitely lost the charm of the past years when it was the scene of the main events of interest for Berlin's social life.

    Naturally, the construction of the Berlin Wall immediately made its presence felt and the negative consequences on the tenor and economic development of the area were inevitable. During the student struggles of '68 the neighborhood was the scene of violent clashes against theAmerica house, an institution built after the end of the war, to spread American culture among the Germans.

    The boys of the Berlin zoo

    Charlottenburg it is also the setting district of the book (and film) “We, the children of the Berlin zoo”, by Christiane F., a document that renders a raw and faithful picture of the 80s in the area of ​​the Zoo station. Heroin, drug dealing, crime and youth prostitution, today replaced by a dynamic but quiet everyday life, which surrounds the space of the Berlin Zoo or rather the Zoologischer Garten Berlin (Berlin Zoological Garden). One of the largest zoos in Germany, with the greatest variety of animal species in the world.

    Definitely worth a visit Savignyplatz, the center of the nightlife of the neighborhood, full of theaters and concert halls to rediscover good music, as well as restaurants and bars frequented, among other things, by artists, celebrities and German public life.

    For a walk in the countryside, stop by at Lietzenseepark: the park, with its adjoining lake, is quite large and offers restaurants to sip something fresh in complete tranquility.

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