Sophisticated Charlottenburg is a haute bourgeoisie enclave and was the only district of Berlin that did not rub shoulders with the Wall. The historical streets off Ku’damm feature small cafés, restaurants, art galleries and boutiques, based in stout residential houses from the beginning of the 20th century. These streets and Charlottenburg’s proud town hall remind us that this district was once the richest town in Prussia, which was only incorporated into the city of Berlin in 1920. Spandau, on the other hand, is rural in comparison, a part of Berlin with a special feel. Spandau’s Late Medieval old town and the citadel make this district on the other side of the Spree and Havel seem like a small independent town.

Spandau and Berlin

West Berliners consider the Spandauers to be rather different sorts of people, provincial and rough, and not “real” Berliners at all. But the Spandauers can reassure themselves that Spandau is 60 years older than Berlin, and proudly point to their independent history. The mutual mistrust is not just a consequence of Spandau’s geographical location, isolated from the remainder of the city by the Havel and Spree Rivers. It is also due to the recent incorporation of Spandau in 1920. Today, still, Spandauers say they are going “to Berlin”, even though the centre of the city is only a few stops away on the U-Bahn.

The History of Charlottenburg

The magnificent Charlottenburger Rathaus (town hall) on Otto-Suhr-Allee is a reminder of the time when this district of 200,000 people was an independent town. Charlottenburg, named after the eponymous palace, arose in 1705 from the medieval settlement of Lietzow. Towards the end of the 19th century, Charlottenburg – then Prussia’s wealthiest town – enjoyed a meteoric rise following the construction of the Westend colony of villas and of Kurfürstendamm. Thanks to its numerous theatres, the opera and the Technical University, the district developed into Berlin’s west end during the 1920s.

Top 10 Sights
  1. Kurfürstendamm

    The famous Berlin boulevard, the pride of Charlottenburg, is today a lively and fashionabale avenue .

  2. Schloss Charlottenburg

    The Baroque and English-style gardens of this Hohenzollern summer residence are ideal for a stroll .

    • Spandauer Damm

    • opening hours see Schloss Charlottenburg

    • 030 32 09 11

    • Admission charge

  3. Zoologischer Garten

    Overlooked by the Great Berlin Wheel, this is Germany’s oldest and most important zoological garden .

  4. Zitadelle Spandau

    The only surviving fortress in Berlin, the citadel, at the confluence of the Havel and Spree Rivers, is strategically well placed. The star-shaped moated fortress, built in 1560 by Francesco Chiaramella da Gandino, was modelled on similar buildings in Italy. Its four powerful corner bastions, named Brandenburg, König (king), Königin (queen) and Kronprinz (crown prince) are especially remarkable. A fortress stood on the same site as early as the 12th century, of which the Juliusturm survives – a keep that served as a prison in the 19th century. At the time, Berliners used to say, “off to the Julio”, when they sent criminals to prison. Later the imperial war treasures were kept here – the reparations paid by France to the German Empire after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1. The Bastion Königin houses a museum of municipal history.

    • Am Juliusturm

    • 10am–5pm daily

    • 030 354 944 200

    • Admission charge

    Zitadelle Spandau
  5. Spandau Old Town

    When walking around Spandau Old Town, it is easy to forget that you are still in Berlin. Narrow alleyways and nooks and crannies around Nikolaikirche are lined by Late Medieval houses, a sign that Spandau was founded in 1197 and is thus older than Berlin itself. Berlin’s oldest house, the Gothic House, dating back to the early 16th century, stands here, in Breite Straße 32.

    • Breite Straße, Spandau

    Prussian Eagle in Spandau

    Inside Nikolaikirche, Spandau Old Town
  6. Savignyplatz

    One of Berlin’s most attractive squares is right in the heart of Charlottenburg. Savignyplatz, named after a 19th-century German legal scholar, is the focal point of Charlottenburg’s reputation as a district for artists and intellectuals and as a trendy residential area for dining out and entertainment. The square has two green spaces, either side of Kantstraße. It was built in the 1920s as part of an effort to create parks in the centre of town. Small paths, benches and pergolas make it a pleasant place for a rest. Dotted all around Savignyplatz are restaurants, street cafés and shops, especially in Grolman-, Knesebeck-, and Carmerstraße, all three of which cross the square. Many a reveller has lost his way here after a night’s celebrating, which is why the area is jokingly known as the “Savignydreieck” (the Savigny Triangle). North of Savignyplatz it is worth exploring some of the most attractive streets in Charlottenburg – Knesebeck-, Schlüter- and Goethestraße. This is still a thriving Charlottenburg community; the small shops, numerous bookstores, cafés and specialist retailers are always busy, especially on Saturdays. South of the square, the redtiled S-Bahn arches also lure visitors with their shops, cafés and bars; most of all the Savignypassage near Bleibtreustraße and the small passageway between Grolman- and Uhlandstraße on the opposite side of the square.

    • An der Kantstraße

  7. Fasanenstraße

    This elegant street is the most attractive and trendiest street off Ku’damm. Designer shops, galleries and restaurants are tucked away here, a shoppers’ paradise for all those who regard Kurfürstendamm as a mere retail strip catering for the masses. The junction of Fasanenstraße and Ku’damm is one of the liveliest spots in Berlin. One of the best known places is the “Bristol Berlin Kempinski” at the northern end of Fasanenstraße. The Lübbecke & Co bank opposite cleverly combines a historic building with a new structure. Next to it are the Jüdisches Gemeindehaus (Jewish Community House) and a little farther along, at the junction with Kantstraße, is the Kant-Dreieck. Berliner Börse (stock exchange), based in the ultra-modern Ludwig-Erhard-Haus, is just above, at the corner of Hardenbergstraße. The southern end of the street is dominated by residential villas, some of which may seem a little pompous, as well as the Literaturhaus, Villa Grisebach, one of the oldest art auction houses in Berlin, and the Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum. There are also some very expensive fashion stores here, as well as a few cosy restaurants. At its southern end, the street leads to picturesque Fasanenplatz, where many artists lived before 1933.

    • Charlottenburg

    The Jewish House, in Fasanenstraße

    Kempinski Hotel Bristol Berlin, Fasanenstraße

    Shops in Fasanenstraße
  8. Funkturm and Messegelände

    The 150-m (492-ft) high Funkturm (TV tower), reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, is one of the landmarks of Berlin that can be seen from afar. Built in 1924 to plans by Heinrich Straumer, it served as an aerial and as an air-traffic control tower. The viewing platform at 125 m (410 ft) provides magnificent views, while the restaurant, situated at 55 m (180 ft), overlooks the oldest part of the complex, the exhibition centre and the surrounding pavillions. The giant building in the east is the Hall of Honour built to designs by Richard Ermisch in 1936, in the colossal Fascist architectural style.

    On the opposite side rises the shiny silver ICC, the International Congress Centrum, built in 1975–9 by Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte. It is still considered one of the most advanced conference centres in the world, with 80 rooms for more than 5,000 visitors. Berlin’s vast exhibition grounds are among the largest in the world, covering an area of 160,000 sq m (40 acres). These play host to, among others, Grüne Woche (green week, an agricultural fair), Internationale Tourismusbörse (international tourism fair) and Internationale Funkausstellung (international TV fair).

    • Messedamm 22

    • 11am–9pm Mon, 10am–11pm Tue–Sun (tower)

    • 030 30 38 0

    • Admission charge

    Ehrenhalle in the Messegelände

    The Berliner Funkturm
  9. Newton Sammlung

    Helmut Newton (1931–2004), the world famous photographer, has finally returned to his home city. This museum presents his complete works and centres on two shows called “Sex and Landscapes” and “Us and Them”, which show his early fashion and nude photography as well as photos of the famous, rich and beautiful since 1947.

    • Jebensstr. 2

    • 10am–6pm Tue–Wed; 10am–6pm Fri–Sun; 10am–10pm Thu

    • 030 318 648 56

    • Admission charge (free Thu from 6pm)

  10. Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum

    The museum is dedicated to the work of the Berlin artist Käthe Kollwitz (1897–1945), who documented the misery of workers’ lives in 1920s Berlin in numerous prints, graphics and sketches. After losing a son and a grandson in World War I, she concentrated on the themes of war and motherhood. The museum holds some 200 of her works, including several self-portraits.

    • Fasanenstr. 24

    • 11am–6pm daily

    • 030 882 52 10

    • Admission charge

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