The 'festival of freedom' yesterday was interesting, though not particularly exciting. It rained a lot, too! It was a long night though and quite tiring overall, so I've spent the day so far taking it easy and trying to clear the backlog of things to post here...not that I've succeeded yet! I'll post a full report about the festival of freedom later.

Anyway, it's time for me to get out there before it gets dark...and I think that now the wall has symbolically been knocked down a second time, it's time to take a look at the west.

Update 2013: The watchtower has been bought by a private investor, restored and is now open to the public Tuesday - Sunday, from 11:00 - 16:00, except for when it's raining.

Hidden in a backstreet by Potsdamer Platz, the past is lurking among all the new buildings...



S-Bahn: 
Potsdamer Platz (S1, S2, S25)
U-Bahn: 
Potsdamer Platz (U2)
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A cold war relic hiding behind a new development.

This particular watchtower was situated outside the wall's 'death strip', intended for watching people approaching the eastern side of the border. It's actually been moved a few metres to make way for the new buildings here on Erna-Berger-Straße, but it's now a listed monument, the last watchtower of its type (BT-6 for all you watchtower fans out there) still standing in Berlin. This type was designed to give a good view through all 360 degrees around it. They replaced these with larger, square watchtowers later, as it was difficult for the troops to get out quickly if they needed to.

There used to be a small section of the wall remaining on the corner where Erna-Berger-Straße meets Stresemannstraße. It's gone now, unfortunately, so this watchtower is now all that remains of the traces of the border in this area.

The area surrounding the Brandenburg Gate swarmed with umbrella monsters as the Fest der Freiheit (Festival of Freedom) got underway. These vicious beasts may look pretty, but will take out an eye without any hesitation...ducking down underneath them seemed to be the safest way to get through the crowd.


S-Bahn: 
Brandenburger Tor (S1, S2, S25)
U-Bahn: 
Brandenburger Tor (U55)
Topics: 
My report from the event staged to mark 20 years since the fall of the wall.

This is where Malmöer Straße meets Bornholmer Straße:



The sign at the corner of Bornholmer Straße


Twenty years ago, there was a border crossing point here, stretching from Malmöer Straße to the Bösebrücke, the bridge which crosses the S-Bahn tracks.


S-Bahn: 
Bornholmer Straße (S2, S25, S8, S85, S9)
On a dark, wet November afternoon, I take a trip up to Bornholmer Straße, the first Berlin border crossing to open on November 9th 1989.
Topics: 

U-Bahn: 
Eberswalder Straße (U2) - the U2 comes above ground here and the Imbiß is under the railway lines, just across the road from the station exit.
Berlin's oldest Imbiß!



S-Bahn: 
Warschauer Straße (S3, S5, S7, S75)
Ostbahnhof (S3, S5, S7, S75)
U-Bahn: 
Warschauer Straße (U1)
Topics: 
The longest remaining section of the wall, turned into an outdoor art gallery by artists from across the world.

Karl Marx Allee was East Berlin's first big building project, planned as "Berlin's first socialist street", with building work beginning in 1952.
The street was originally called Große Frankfurter Straße (and, further towards the east, Frankfurter Allee), but renamed Stalinallee on December 21st 1949, for Stalin's 70th birthday. Stalin fell out of favour after his death and, in a process of de-Stalinisation initiated by Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev, it was renamed Karl Marx Allee, the eastern portion reverting to Frankfurter Allee.

U-Bahn: 
Strausberger Platz (U5)
Frankfurter Tor (U5)
Topics: 
A walk along East Berlin's showpiece street, ending up at an intriguing café.

Yesterday's mist has gone, replaced by drizzle. Still, it's not enough to put off a seasoned Berlin explorer. See you all later!

Kunsthaus Tacheles closed on September 4th 2012. The building remains - empty for now - but the site is currently being redeveloped.

After visiting the Fernsehturm, we take a tram to Hackescher Markt, then wander down Oranienburger Straße.

The Neue Synagoge (new synagogue) in Oranienburger Straße, designed by Eduard Knoblauch, was built between 1859 and 1866 and was the largest of Berlin's synagogues.

S-Bahn: 
Oranienburger Straße (S1, S2, S25)
U-Bahn: 
Oranienburger Tor (U6)

Later in the day, the mist having mostly cleared, we head over to the TV tower (Fernsehturm).



S-Bahn: 
Alexanderplatz (S3, S5, S7, S75)
U-Bahn: 
Alexanderplatz (U2, U8)
Topics: 
A visit to the revolving restaurant in Berlin's most inescapable landmark.

Standing at 368m tall, the Fernsehturm (television tower) was built both to improve reception of East German state TV broadcasts in East Berlin and as a crowning centrepiece to the new 'socialist city centre'. It opened on October 3rd 1969, the 20th anniversary of the East German state.

The architect Hermann Henselmann is usually the first to be mentioned in connection with the design of the tower, it echoing a suggestion for a 'signal tower' made by Henselmann in 1958. Over the course of the development, architects Fritz Dieter, Günter Franke and Werner Neumann from VEB Industrieprojektierung also had major input into the design of the tower and would later claim they had arrived at the design without any input from Henselmann. Gerhard Kosel, who had been chief architect for the project for a short while, would also later lay claim to having devised the tower's form.

The tower offers impressive views over the city, both from its observation deck and its revolving restaurant.

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