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Berlin - Around Town : Berlin's Southeast (part 1)

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Berlin’s East and South are remarkably different in character. Friedrichshain, Lichtenberg and Hohenschönhausen in the east are densely built-up, former working-class areas, while green Treptow and idyllic Köpenick in the far southeast seem like independent villages. The tenement blocks of East Berlin were steeped in history during World War II and later under the East German regime. Historic Köpenick and Großer Müggelsee, meanwhile, are popular daytrip destinations.


Top 10 Sights

  1. Köpenicker Altstadt

    Köpenick is a small, quiet, self-absorbed world. This island community has a venerable history: as early as the 9th century, people had settled on Schlossinsel. The former fishing village stayed independent until 1920, and its coat of arms still features two fish, as do many of the house façades. The Old Town, on the banks of the Dahme River, is still characterized by cobbled streets and low fishermen’s huts from the 18th and 19th centuries, taking the visitor back in time. Schüßlerplatz, Grünstraße and Alter Markt, too, still have some older buildings. Old Köpenick became famous on 16 October 1906. Wilhelm Voigt, a homeless man dressed up as a captain, commanded a troop of soldiers, marched into the town hall, arrested the mayor and confiscated the municipal coffers. Today the “Hauptmann von Köpenick” (Captain of Köpenick) is commemorated by a statue in front of the Rathaus (town hall). The vast red-brick structure, dating from 1901–4, is a typical example of Gothic brick architecture from Brandenburg province.

    • Rathaus: Alt-Köpenick 21

    • 8am–6pm Mon–Fri, 10am–6pm Sat & Sun

    • 030 90 29 70

    Pool in Köpenicker Altstadt
  2. Köpenicker Schloss

    The Köpenick palace, which is situated on Schlossinsel (palace island) in the south of the district, was built in 1677–81 to plans by the Dutch architect Rutger van Langervelt for Frederick, heir to the throne and future King Frederick I. In the 17th century, the charming Baroque palace was extended by Johann Arnold Nering and others. Today it houses part of the collections of the Berliner Kunstgewerbemuseum (arts and crafts museum).

    • Schlossinsel

    • 10am–6pm Tue–Sun

    • 030 266 2951

    • Admission charge

  3. Gedenkstätte Normannenstraße

    The former headquarters of the much-feared “Stasi”, East Germany’s secret police, is now a memorial, commemorating the thousands of victims of the East German regime and of Erich Mielke, the minister in charge of the secret police. Visitors can see his offices, the canteen and various pieces of spying equipment, revealing the methods used by the Socialist big-brother regime.

    • Ruschestr. 103, Haus 1

    • 11am–6pm Mon–Fri; 2–6pm Sat, Sun

    • 030 553 68 54

    • Admission charge

  4. Deutsch-Russisches Museum

    World War II ended here on 8 May 1945, when Germany signed its unconditional surrender. Documents, uniforms and photographs, displayed in the former officers’ casino, relate the story of the war.

    • Zwieseler Str. 4

    • 10am–6pm Tue–Sun

    • 030 50 15 08 10

  5. East Side Gallery

    A fragment of the Berlin Wall, 1.3 km (1,422 yards) long, was left standing next to the Spree River. In 1990, 118 artists from around the world painted colourful images onto the grey concrete wall, making it a unique work of art. Particularly famous is a picture by the Russian artist Dmitri Vrubel, showing Leonid Brezhnev and the East German leader Erich Honecker, exchanging fraternal Socialist kisses. Much has faded due to exhaust fumes, but it is now being restored.

    • At Mühlenstr./ Oberbaumbrücke

    East Side Gallery
  6. Großer Müggelsee

    Großer Müggelsee, known as Berlin’s “bathtub”, is the largest of the city’s lakes, covering an area of 766 hectares (1,892 acres). Müggelsee is not as popular as Großer Wannsee, its West Berlin counterpart, mainly because it is located so far away from the centre of town, in the southeast corner of the city. The lake is known for the beer gardens on its south side, which can be reached by boat from Friedrichshagen. All around the lake there are excellent paths for walking and cycling. You can also swim in the lake, for example at the beach resort of Rahnsdorf.

    • Treptow-Köpenick district

  7. Treptower Park

    Treptower Park, established in the 19th century as a recreation area for Berlin’s working-class communities, is today best known for the giant Sowjetisches Ehrenmal (Soviet Memorial). In April 1945, 5,000 Red Army soldiers, who died during the liberation of Berlin, were buried here. Beyond the mass graves rises a 12-m (39-ft) bronze statue of a Russian soldier, holding a child in one arm and a sword in the other, which he has used to destroy a swastika.

    • Alt-Treptow

    Memorial in Treptower Park
  8. Volkspark Friedrichshain

    Berlin’s oldest landscaped gardens, the people’s park, was designed by Joseph Peter Lenné in 1840. Today it provides an oasis of tranquillity in the middle of the densely built-up district of Friedrichshain. World War II has left its traces here, too. Kleiner and Großer Bunkerberg – two heaps of rubble (the latter nicknamed “Mount Rubble”) reaching a height of 78 m (256 ft) – were piled up here after the war. Less traumatic is the Märchenbrunnen, a charming Neo-Baroque fairytale fountain created by Ludwig Hoffmann. It is decorated with 106 richly ornamented figures from popular fairy tales.

    • Am Friedrichshain

  9. Tierpark Friedrichsfelde

    Located in the historic parklands around Friedrichsfelde Palace, Europe’s largest zoological garden boasts spacious enclosures and is home to several rare species. Particularly worth a visit are the lions and Siberian tigers, which are kept in rocky outdoor enclosures. The park is also known for its successful elephant breeding programme. Friedrichsfelde Palace, erected in 1695, is situated in the middle of this 160-hectare (400-acre) estate.

    • Am Tierpark 125

    • Jan–Mar: 9am–4pm daily; Apr–Sep: 9am–6pm; Oct: 9am–5pm daily; Nov–Dec: 9am–4pm daily

    • 030 51 53 10

    • Admission charge

    Aviary in Tierpark Friedrichsfelde
  10. Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen

    This former secret police prison for “political” prisoners was in use until 1990. Before 1951, it served as a reception centre for the Red Army. On a guided tour, you can visit the watchtowers and the cells – particularly horrifying are the so-called “submarine cells”, rooms without windows used for solitary confinement, where inmates were interrogated and tortured.

    • Genslerstr. 66

    • Guided tours 9am–4pm daily and by prior arrangement

    • 030 98 60 82 30

    • Admission charge

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