One of the most famous streets in Berlin, Kurfurstendamm is a major boulevard in the Charlottenburg district of the German capital. While today it is one of the most upscale shopping areas in the city, this so-called Champs-Elysees of Berlin has a long and storied past.
Stretching along three-and-a-half kilometres through Charlottenburg, Kurfurstendamm is most easily recognised for the top-end fashion designers’ shops which line it. Some brands present include Bvlgari, Burberry, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Hermes, Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Versace, among many others. Car manufacturers also keep showrooms on this street. Other landmarks include the Theater am Kurfuerstendamm, once the site of an exhibition by the Berlin Secession art association, and the Café Kranzler, located at the former site of the Café des Westens, a favourite pre-war haunt of artists and bohemians. About halfway down the street, The Story of Berlin museum presents an interactive multimedia show about the city’s history. Visitors can also tour a nearby nuclear bunker.
The Kurfurstendamm U-Bahn station is served by the U1 and U9 lines. It can also be reached via the U Uhlandstrasse stop on the U1 line and the Adenauerplatz stop on the U7 line. Located far to the west of the city centre, it takes about 30 minutes to reach Kurfurstendamm from the Brandenburg Gate, and longer from sites like Museum Island and the East Side Gallery.
Originally a 16th century “corduroy” road, meaning it was of rough construction, the street was named after the Brandenburg prince-electors, or “kurfursten” in German. In the 19th century, Otto von Bismarck himself spearheaded a campaign to build up the area and by the 1920s, it was the trendiest nightlife area in Berlin.