Molecule Man sculpure [Image: Sebastian Niedlich from Flickr] Creative commons image Credit: SebastianNiedlich via Flickr

Moving away from the built up areas in the city you discover the sphere of 'openings' and 'passages' within the city-scape. These spaces are the locations of the old city centre and of one of the new 'centres' of Berlin.

Sights

  1. The invisible wall
  2. The Alexanderplatz
  3. The Potsdamer Platz
  4. The River Spree

Explore Berlin's spaces

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Berlin: spaces

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Theme: Spaces
Location: Throughout Berlin; pin marks starting point of Berlin Wall Trail – Erna-Berger-Strasse, 10117, Berlin

Mauerweg [Image: judith74 on flickr] Creative commons image Credit: judith74 via Flickr This invisible wall is the area that once housed the Berlin Wall. It comprises of spaces that are left as barren 'city-scapes' representing change. There are old unused train stations, stretches of deserted ground and streets that end in no-man's land.

What is still visible of this 'invisible' landmark? Could these empty spaces be seen as an indication of the wall that still divides the self-perception of the East and the West Germans? Can this symbol of division be turned into a source of recreation and energy in such a vibrant city?

Discover how Berliners would answer these questions and find out more about how these spaces have become part of the 'green lung' of Berlin which has become home to rare species of birds and plants.

The images of the 'Mauerweg' – wall path – highlight the fact that the destruction of the Berlin Wall left the city with an amazing hiking trail through the many facets of this vicinity. The so-called 'Turtle Walk' along the Griebnitzsee to Potsdam, formerly used by border guards, is a vivid reminder of how present and past are still closely connected.

[Image: judith74 on flickr]

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Theme: Spaces
Location: 10178 Berlin

Alexanderplatz [Image: John H. Kim from Flickr] Creative commons image Credit: JohnH.Kim via Flickr This famous locality, which became a forgotten and slightly shabby looking open space after 1990, is dominated by 1960s' socialist realist architecture. Find out why it has, once again, turned into the scene of a reinvention and redevelopment at the heart of the city.

The space is probably best known as the central location of the novel 'Berlin Alexanderplatz', by Alfred Döblin, and of the feature film with the same title by Rainer Werner Fassbinder.

During the industrialisation it was a hub of progress. Later it earned its sad fame as the 'theatre of the poor', as depicted by Döblin. Yet the Alexanderplatz was also the 'downtown' of East Germany's Berlin.

Today it houses an experimental open-air exhibition to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall, the biggest Christmas Market in the city and some of Berlin's largest shopping centres.

[Image: John H. Kim on flickr]

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Theme: Spaces
Location: Potsdamer Platz,10785 Berlin

Potsdamer Platz [Image: Michael Francis McCarthy on Flickr] Creative commons image Credit: MichaelFrancisMcCarthy via Flickr The design of the Potsdamer Platz today links the city of Berlin with the image of Germany as a big economic player on the international scene.

The space, destroyed in 1943 and situated on what was formerly no-man's-land along the Berlin Wall, was rebuilt to symbolize this strength. Discover how city planners attempted to develop a lively, post-modern monument to economic wealth and progress.

The re-development of this space was also an attempt at the revival of the square's former glory of the 1920s and 1930s, when this was one of the busiest hubs in Europe.

[Image: Michael Francis McCarthy on flickr]

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The River Spree [Image: Metro Centric on Flickr] Creative commons image Credit: MetroCentric via Flickr The River Spree is an exciting example of how city planners managed to incorporate a river into their design of a 21st century community. Many of the city's landmarks are located on the banks of this river.

Travelling by train across bridges, or by boat along the river, allows beautiful, as well as bizarre, views of the city from the water's edge. You will find yourself confronted by two over-sized titans entangled in a wrestling match in the middle of the river. Or you can admire a series of bridges built in most diverse styles with unusual materials.

The famous Molecule Man near Oberbaumbrücke, demonstrates how waterways in the city have become prominent exhibition spaces.

[Image: Metro Centric on flickr]

Useful links

Spaces: further cultural references

Book

'Berlinwalks' (1994), by Peter Fritzsche and Karen Hewitt, offers four walks through parts of the city where past and present lie side by side.

Film

Berlin Alexanderplatz, by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, is a fascinating interpretation of Döblin's novel that was re-released in 2007.

Personality

Heiner Müller (1929-1995) – a GDR playwright who lived and worked in Berlin, who is widely regarded as the most important German dramatist since Brecht. His progressive and highly critical plays had an immense influence on the arts in the GDR. His work still shapes the city's artistic scene today.

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