ALTERNATIVE BERLIN GUIDE
This winter, I went to Berlin for the first time. In my mind, Berlin was a city divided into two with a straight line, thus creating two different worlds. But when i walked around the city for the first time, I understood that the thing that create todays Berlin was not that wall but what happened after the wall collapsed.
Think about a city, that suddenly became so free that everybody has found a place where they can express themselves without any boundaries. And even though they didn't have much money, that didn't limit their creativity. So as a result of that freedom, now everywhere, every corner, every shop and even street signs are full of surprises. Thats exactly why they called Berlin "Poor but Sexy"
So I decided to attend alternative Berlin tour in order to get to know this side of the "Poor but Sexy" better and by far that was the best time i spent in the city. For the tour stops, please keep on reading...
First stop of the tour was Tacheles. Tacheles means to speak directly and honestly in Yiddish. This building is a product a squatting movement that widespreadly happened after the Berlin wall came down. Building was used as a prison by Nazi Regime and right after the wall came down it turned into a a non profit art house consisting of workshops, cinema, theater, garden, cafes and a nightclub.
It became the mecca of poor but sexy street artists and center of the street art world.
Unfortunately, building has closed down after a bank bought the ownership of the building at 2012. but even now, when look at he building from outside you can imagine how exciting those days were. A non profit art house where everybody can come and perform their work and spend some quality time.. I really wish to see those days. But even looking at the graffitis outside of this building strike up your imagination...
Just opposite of Tacheles, there lies AugestStrasse which consist of free art houses that are similarly result of squatting movement. Most of this houses are used as art galleries today. All of the street is full of interesting street art.
Even just walking along this street is interesting enough but you cant simply miss opportunity to see the very interesting shops and places that are just around the corner.
At the end of the street, there is Clärchens Ballhaus. It is a ball-house built in 1913 and still serves the same purpose. Here you can taste really good food and watch people from all ages (15-90, yes true story) dance like there is no tomorrow. And some nights they even offer dance courses. I couldn't attend the dance lessons but i heard they even offer ballroom dance courses.
P.S. The graffitis in the garden is super-duper.
Second important stop is KW Modern Art Institute. I have to warn you, this is not just another modern art museum. Lets put it this way, this place is product of "Art for Art's Sake" mentality. If you want to push the limits of your imagination, this is the right place for you.
If you are tired of your journey along the street or if you are simply hungry, Das Lokal (ex Kantine) which is located at the street below, is right address for you. With its wood based decoration and yummy German Food, Das lokal is definitely a must visit place.
You can reach this street after ten minutes walk from Augest Strasse. What makes this street so special is graffitis and Cafe Cinema. In this street you can see finest examples of street art by famous street artists from all around the world.
Actually, If you walk it fast, It will take you only one minute to walk it all along but if you look at all beautiful artwork, you may have to spend hours there.
In this street there is also very famous Cafe Cinema. In this cafe, you can feel 50s Paris vibe.. It gives you feeling that you are sitting next to an artist who will be world famous and phenomenal 100 years later.
Visiting Kreuzberg is prerequisite for Alternative Berlin Tour. It is so because in Kreuzberg, there is worlds largest open air museum, East Side Gallery. East Side Gallery was created by 105 artist from all around the world in 1990. It is 1.5 km wall full of artwork reflecting the emotions after Berlin wall fell down. Nowadays, it is slightly destroyed by so called graffitis and handwritings but it is still quite impressive :)
Well, East Side Gallery is not the only thing you can see in Kreuzberg. In fact, this neighborhood is the best place to spot street art. One wall of most of the buildings are covered with huge street art. One of the most striking and inspiring example of this artwork is Pink Man by Blu. It is a one giant pink man consisting of hundreds of tiny pink man and one white man who oppeses all of them. You can spot this wonderful one one side of a building next to the famous nightclub Watergate. Other famous work of Blu is “Handcuffs” “East and West“ and the “Global Warming”.
Other street artist you can spot in Kreuzberg is Jimmy C and El Bocho.
All of this artwork is individually beautiful but Best place you can feel alternative Berlin is RAW Tempel. It was transformed from an industrial complex that was built in 1999. Now here you can find many cafes, bars, nightclubs (Cassiopeia club, the MIKZ) , workshops and a theater.
You can call it as Tacheles of our days. But I have to warn you, this is rather summery place. But even in winter, it worths a visit just to see the street art on the walls.
Well, assuming that these activities will take all your day and make you little hungry, best place to end Alternative Berlin Tour is Henne Restaurant in the neighborhood which serves excellent German Food. It is so old and so authentic that even locals say its the best place they can feel old Germany. Here only thing that is served is, Berliner Bauette, Broiler chicken, cabbage and potato salad, just like in the good old days :)