Located in northeast Berlin lies the bohemian neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg, long renowned for its counterculture movements, independent art scene and gay community. It played a key role in the peaceful revolution that eventually brought down the Berlin Wall in 1989 and is one of the city’s most vibrant areas to explore.
Prenzlauer Berg’s cobblestone streets are filled with vintage and antique shops, art galleries and eclectic cafes, set against a backdrop of pre-war architecture that makes it undeniably appealing. It is renowned for its Wilhelmine buildings, many of which were built towards the end of the 19th century and early 20th centuries, with the neighbourhood suffering far less damage than other areas of the city. There’s also a scattering of Socialist Classicism apartment buildings constructed in the 1950s, as well as a few high-rises built during the 1980s around Ernst-Thälmann-Park. When the country reunified in 1989, Prenzlauer Berg started a period of gentrification that is still ongoing, with its historic buildings and apartments renovated into modern dwellings and a vibrant bar and restaurant scene emerging within its heritage-listed area. The late-19th century Gethsemane Church is one of the area’s most notable buildings, together with Germany’s largest synagogue on Rykestraße whose cemetery is where painter Max Liebermann and composer Giacomo Meyerbeer are buried. Berlin’s first water town, known as “Fat Hermann” stands as a prominent landmark within the area, as well as the lively Mauer Park, or “Wall Park”, where the ever-popular Sunday flea market is held. This is famously situated along the former “death strip” between the two walls that separated East and West Berlin.
Prenzlauer Berg is easily accessed from central Berlin along the subway, which runs roughly north to south across the district. The train line that loops around the city also has stops in Prenzlauer Berg, together with trams which criss-cross the area.
Throughout the 20th century, the area where Prenzlauer Berg now stands was referred to as “Windmill Hill” because of the view those living in the glacial valley of Berlin had. Prenzlauer Berg was officially founded in 1920 as a district in its own right, and after becoming part of the Soviet Sector, then the German Democratic Republic, it was incorporated into the greater district of Pankow in 2001.