Kreuzberg and the Spree
Kreuzberg is one of Berlin’s more colourful districts. In the 1970s Turkish immigrants, students and alternative thinkers started moving into what used to be a workers
district before it fell under the shadow of the Berlin Wall. Even now, the nights can be long in Kreuzberg bars.
The River Spree runs along one side of this district and used to be the border to the East Berlin district of Friedrichshain. Only since Reunification have the banks of the river become accessible.
Here you can relax by the Märchenbrunnen (fairytale fountain) in Summer and take romantic walks in Winter. The Volkspark Friedrichshain was established as a counterpart to the Tiergarten in 1886. The park was also intended to provide workers from the surrounding areas of Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain space for sport and relaxation.
Just one more kiss… the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall runs parallel to the banks of the Spree. This nearly 2km stretch along the Wall was established as an outdoor gallery by international artists and has since been called the “East Side Gallery”.
There’s not a lot of trading going on in the river harbour of Osthafen nowadays. Most of the warehouses now have new owners. The European headquarters of Universal Music are now housed in a massive former cool storage egg warehouse with a superb view of the Spree. MTV has also moved into an old building on the waters edge. The yellow building houses a disco and the ship moored at the pier is a hostel.
In the 70s and 80s Kreuzberg was a Mecca of alternative culture. Squatted houses, collectives, social projects and sometimes the odd riot. At the same time, Kreuzberg became home to a large number of immigrants, mainly from Turkey.
Swimming in the Spree? It’s actually possible to swim in the “Badeschiff” (swimming ship) – a barge that has been converted into a swimming pool. In Winter the Badeschiff gets a roof structure and the whole thing becomes a sauna and a bar.
This area is home to three Russian war memorials and is the last resting place of many of the soldiers who fell in the battle for Berlin. The Red Army soldiers don’t mind the snow; maybe
it helps soothe the homesickness.
Kreuzberg’s closest recreation area is Görlitzer Park. 25 years ago this area was an unused wasteland belonging to the German railways. What look like Roman ruins on the grassy area used to be pedestrian tunnels running under the railway lines.
This little virtual tour is not comparable to bike tour participation.