As many of you know, I have just returned from a week in Berlin and what a wonderful week it was. This was not my first trip to the German capital mind, I spent a month there back in 2003 as part of my year abroad whilst at University. However, my husband had never been before so we had a pretty packed itinerary. We obviously had to visit all the usual tourist attractions in the city and we dedicated our whole first day to this. We must have walked miles and in 35 degree heat it wasn’t easy especially as we decided not to use public transport. We wanted to get to know the city better and walking seemed like the best way to do that.
1. Alte Nationalgalerie | 2. Reichstag | 3. Alte Museum | 4. Berlin Cathedral
Luckily, one of my best friends, Corinna, lives in Berlin so we were able to take full advantage of her insider knowledge, which I always find priceless when visiting a new city. She has a beautiful apartment in the Prenzlauer Berg district, in north-east Berlin and she kindly invited us to stay with her for the week. I had not visited Prenzlauer Berg before, but I am so pleased that I had the opportunity to discover it as it really is a beautiful area of the city. It is full of great architecture and is characterized by old buildings: over 80% of all housing in this area sprung up before 1948 and thankfully relatively few buildings were destroyed in the Second World War in comparison to other areas of the city.
The district also features countless pubs, restaurants, cafés, galleries and little shops creating a unique atmosphere and making it one of the most popular parts of Berlin. It is definitely one of the prettiest neighbourhoods I’ve visited in Berlin and it’s also a focal point of the Berlin art scene. I fell in love with Prenzlauer Berg as soon as I arrived and I loved the feeling of youthful exuberance that the district exuded; young families filled the streets and the many playgrounds were full of little children.
I also loved the gorgeous palettes of pastel colours that the buildings were painted in. They really brightened up the district and made every day feel bright and happy. Many of the buildings also featured these gorgeous little balconies and the inhabitants really did make the most of what little outside space they had available. These little spaces were transformed into tranquil seating areas enhanced with plants, flower boxes and colourful umbrellas to create the most wonderful urban gardens.
We spent one whole day just exploring Prenzlauer Berg as there was just so much to discover and explore there. But of course we also ventured out to other parts of the city. One thing that quickly became apparent, no matter where we were in the city, was that street art and graffiti is pretty prolific in Berlin. There is in fact so much of it that at one point I did start to question whether it is legal in Germany to adorn buildings with this colourful urban art form. Of course it isn’t but this has not prevented the city’s streetscape from becoming a blank canvas for street artists. In fact, it has even been said that the German capital is the most “bombed” — slang for graffiti-covered — city in Europe. I know that graffiti is vandalism and probably costs the city millions in property damage, but I can’t help feeling that this rebellious art form simply serves to enhance the artistic vibe that can be felt in and around Berlin.
We did far too much in this short week to write about in one blog post though so you’ll have to wait a little bit longer to find out about other exciting things we got up to, including a couple of very interesting museums and some great places to eat! I went out of my way to take in some design hotspots during our trip so I will share them with you soon. In the meantime I would love to hear about your experiences in Berlin if you have ever been before. Please leave me a comment to let me know your recommendations and your favourite places to visit!