Wednesday, August 24, 2016

9 unique things to see and do in Berlin

Posted by Amanda Villaruel | |
Want to experience something unique in Berlin?

Berlin is known to be cool and hip, but is also a center of weirdness and historical horror. If you want to see something else than the Brandenburger Tor or the Jewish Cemetery, this post is something for you :-) I've included sights and activities that are probably less known to the average traveler, which I hope you'll find interesting ;-)
Nine unique things to see and do in Berlin
Nine unique things to see and do in Berlin

1. Prinzessinnengarten

Prinzessinnengarten is one of many examples of how locals in Berlin have turned wasteland into a green, creative space. Not only is the garden a space for growing organic vegetables, but also a place for exchanging information and spreading the word about organic food production and biodiversity.
Entrance to Prinzessinnengarten in Kreuzberg
Entrance to Prinzessinnengarten in Kreuzberg

One of the first things you'll see when you enter the garden, is a tiny shop where they sell self-grown herbs and other small greenery. Straight ahead you'll find the garden café that serves organic lunch from 12.00-16.00 Monday to Friday (from April to October), Saturday lunch from 13.00 and Sunday lunch from 13.00-18.30.

In the corner of the garden, you'll find their "reuse" workshops where they repurpose old items. If you take a closer look, you'll notice that the garden constructions were made from recycled materials. The boxes which they use to grow vegetables with came originally from a bakery, and even old milk cartons are used for vertical vegetable farming.
Inside Prinzessinnengarten, Kreuzberg
Inside Prinzessinnengarten, Kreuzberg

If you have time and interested in hearing more about Prinessinnengarten, I seriously recommend the tour (€4). Tours must be booked in advance.

Admission: Free

Address: Prinzenstrasse 35-38 (U7/U8 to Moritzplatz)

2. Botanical Garden

Take a day trip to the Botanical Garden if you need a breather from the hustle and bustle in downtown Berlin :-) It started out as a royal herbal garden in the 17th century, and today you can find over 20,000 different types of plants, making Botanischer Garten one of the largest botanical gardens in the world.
Inside one of the greenhouses in Botanical Garden, Berlin
Inside one of the greenhouses in Botanical Garden, Berlin

What's even more astonishing is the major greenhouse complex, comprising of 16 houses and where you will find tropical vegetation beyond your imagination. The cacti and succulent house was definitely one of my favorites ;-)

Admission: €6 (adult price).

Opening hours: Open all year round - check out their opening hours here.

Address: Königin-Luise strasse 6-8. Get directions right here.

3. Design Panoptikum / Surreal Museum of Industrial Objects

My colleague tipped me off about this museum, if you want to experience something entirely unusual and unique ;-)

Think mechanical monsters and rare medical equipment, pretty much anything bizarre, morbid, obscure, weird and peculiar. All of these rare objects have been collected by the Russian-born photographer and collector Vlad Korneev.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 11.00-18.00.

Address: Torstrasse 201 (Mitte), take the U6 to Oranienburger Tor.

4. Street Art Museum (opens in mid 2017)

Not a surprise, the world's first street art museum will open in Berlin next year. Urban Nation is behind the concept and their objective is to showcase urban contemporary art, and to create an open space for "research, debates and creative dialogue".1

Opening hours: the museum will open some time in 2017.

Address: Bülowstrasse 7 (Schöneberg), U1/U2 to Nollendorfplatz.

Here's a virtual plan for the museum:

5. König Galerie

Who would have thought that an old chapel would house art exhibitions and sometimes yoga sessions? Welcome to St. Agnes located in the neighborhood of Kreuzberg.

Turning wasteland into a creative space is one thing, but a former church with heavy concrete interior is something entirely different. Johann König landed a long-term lease for the place in 2012, and with the help of architect Arno Brandlhuber 2, St. Agnes was turned into an impressive art complex.

Opening hours:  from Tuesday to Sunday.

Address: Alexandrinenstrasse 118-121, take the U2 to Prinzenstrasse or buses 248 or N42 to Franz-Klühs strasse.

Visit their website.

6. Matthäus-Kirchhof

Visiting cemeteries is maybe the last thing you want to do. But Matthäus Kirchhof is not like any other cemetery ;-)

Renowned people were buried here including Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, and the "father of modern pathology" Rudolf Virchow. The tombstone of Claus von Stauffenberg who nearly assassinated Adolf Hitler, can also be found at this beautiful cemetery.

Matthäus Kirchhof is probably one of the most beautiful cemeteries I've ever visited, with its majestic mausoleums and well maintained garden. If you need a break, visit the small café located close to the main entrance.

Address: The cemetery is located in Schöneberg. Take S1 or U7 to Yorkstrasse. 

Main entrance to Matthäus Kirchhof cemetery in Berlin
Main entrance to Matthäus Kirchhof cemetery in Berlin

Graves of Brothers Grimm: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in Berlin
Graves of Brothers Grimm: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in Berlin

7. Mariannenplatz

On the grounds of Mariannenplatz in the heart of Kreuzberg, you'll find:
  1. A former hospital Bethanien, that is now turned into a space of cultural and artistic expressions called Kunstquartier. 

  2. The building also houses a popular restaurant called 3 Schwestern (= Three sisters) that serves an exciting international cuisine

  3. In the evenings, you can watch an independent movie outdoors (Freiluftskino)

Opening hours for Kunstquartier: Daily from 11.00-20.00. Guided tours is available. 

Address: Mariannenplatz 2. Take U1 or U8 to Kottbusser Tor.
The Firemen Fountain on Mariannenplatz in Berlin
The Firemen Fountain on Mariannenplatz in Berlin
Parts of Mariannenplatz in Berlin
Mariannenplatz in Berlin

8. Underground Tour / Berliner Unterwelten

The Berlin Underworlds Association has been offering underground tours since 1999. It is by far the most unusual way of learning more about WW2 or the Cold War. They will take you to the underground structures of the city, including shelters and old subways.
Berlin underground tours
Berlin underground tours

You can choose between five different tours:
  1. "Dark Worlds"
  2. "From Flak Towers to Mountains of Debris"
  3. "Subways and bunkers in the Cold War"
  4. "Under the Berlin Wall"
  5. "The Fichtebunker Time Capsule"

For more information on tickets and tours, click here.

Admission: € 11 /€ 14 ("Under the Berlin Wall")

How to get there: S1/S2/41/42 or U8 to Gesundbrunnen.

9. Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park

The Soviet Memorial is a known historical site, but literally off-the-beaten track. The attraction is located in Treptower Park, beyond the areas where many travelers normally visit.

Three memorials were built in the aftermath of WW2, to commemorate the Soviet soldiers who fell during the battle for Berlin. A highlight is the grand statue of a Soviet soldier holding a child in his left arm and a sword in his right hand, standing on a broken swastika.

This site must not be confused with the Soviet Memorial in Tiergarten.

Opening hours: open 24 hours.

Address: Puschkinallee. Closest station is S8/S9/S41/42 to Treptower Park. 
Soviet War Memorial in Treptower park, Berlin
Soviet War Memorial in Treptower park, Berlin

Continue to read:
17 personal tips on how to travel sustainably and ethically.

The ultimate Berlin city guide for eco-conscious travelers.


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