Neighbourhood Guide: Kreuzberg

For the local Berliners who live in Kreuzberg it is just their neighbourhood. Many have lived there for many years, even when the wall ran through it and have seen it change from barren, divided waste land to dynamic cultural hot spot. Today though it is considered Berlin’s coolest destination filled with bars, clubs and hipster cafes. In fact many who come to visit the city will stay in Kreuzberg and rarely venture beyond its borders. In its days as part of West Berlin it was one of the city’s poorest areas, yet today a constant stream of foreign cash flows through it, while many residents still get by on low to medium incomes.

Molecule Man © Melinda Barlow

Molecule Man installation in the River Spree in the Kreuzberg Treptow area © Melinda Barlow

Kreuzberg has a large footprint and borders Schöneberg to the west and on its southern edge borders the neighbouring district of Neukölln. Together they are home to the largest population of Turkish people outside of Turkey and increasingly, Syrians, Palestinians and more have become locals. The result is a rich and fascinating cultural mix, with some of the best middle eastern food to be found anywhere in Europe. It is densely populated and each of its individual neighbourhoods have their own unique communities and atmosphere.

Hommus bread © Melinda Barlow

Hummus and bread for lunch in Kreuzberg  © Melinda Barlow

 

Kreuzberg has established itself as the city’s heart for innovation and creativity, thanks to its global reputation for being alternative and progressive . There are start ups in every spare office and back room and cafe, and it attracts a diverse mix of visitors and a surprisingly harmonious blend of residents. The bohemian vibe has prevailed however and is evident in many of its cafes, bars, clubs, festivals, galleries and exhibition spaces.

Carnival of Cultures 4 © Karneval der Kulturen

Carnival of Cultures in Kreuzberg’s streets © Karneval der Kulturen

Local landmarks include its colourful public housing at the large junctions of  Kottbusser Tor and Mehringplatz, the vast boulevard of Kottbusser Damn, the haunting Jewish Museum, the Landwehrkanal that runs through Kreuzberg’s centre  and the vibrant weekly Turkish market held on its banks. Its diversity is most evident when you wander its streets – from the elegant and ornate apartment buildings in the leafy tree lined streets of Graefekiez and Bergmannkiez, to the tranquil waterfall tumbling down the suburb’s namesake hill in Viktoriapark. The view across the rooftops and the city at the top of Kreuzberg hill should not be missed.

Kreuzberg Wasserfall © Natale Esposito

Kreuzberg Wasserfall © Natale Esposito

Kreuzberg is also partially home to one of Berlin’s most photographed landmarks – the Oberbaumbrücke. This ornate bridge spans the Spree river and connects the suburbs of Kreuzberg (formerly west Berlin) and Friedrichshain (formerly east Berlin). You will see a great view of it and Kreuzberg’s river bank when visiting the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain and learn about its history amidst division and unity throughout the city’s turbulent history. It’s also a fantastic spot to enjoy Berlin’s spectacular sunsets.

Berlin Lights Oberbaumbrucke © Enrico Vorwerner

Oberbaumbrucke during the Berlin Lights Festival © Enrico Vorwerner

Wrangelkiez is just a stone’s throw from the bridge and where you will find interesting graffiti alongside works by some of the world’s best street artists. In summer it’s a boater’s paradise with lived on the water in rafts, canoes, giant floating flamingoes and swans, pedal boats, tourists boats and swans idly drifting by and in Kreuzberg there are always people lying on the river banks, soaking in the sun.

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Melinda Barlow is an Australian freelance writer and editor, based in Berlin since 2012. Melinda works with print and online media and has a natural curiosity that informs her work. She is passionate about travel and great content. She loves to write most about the world, its people and why we all do what we do.