Oktober 2011

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As we continue to work towards the opening of the Circus Apartments we thought we would give you a quick update on what is happening and a look at some of the things we have been up to. There have been a couple of delays on the construction side, which means we will be opening the new house in the second half of November.

One of the things that we have been doing is bringing in different artists and designers, chosen by Circus designer Sandra Ernst, to bring their creativity and inspiration into the apartments themselves. As you might have seen here on the blog, Lebanese architect Rani al Rajji has created the design for The Kitchen Café & Lounge on the ground floor. Elsewhere in the building, we have Marie Jacobi, Luc Massin, Rafael Scovino and Fehmi Baumbach making their own unique contributions through wall paintings, picture prints, light installations and collages.

From England we Billy, a street artist who is creating murals in some of the apartments. You find out more about her work on her website but here is a short film of her in the apartments during the artistic process. Over the next few weeks we will be bringing you more of these snippets as we approach the opening, so you can get a sense of how the apartments will look and the thoughts and inspirations behind the process.

The boys from St Pauli might be in town for a game against FC Union tomorrow night, but as part of their sightseeing tour the bus driver obviously decided they needed to drive by the famous Circus office and the Rosenthaler Platz…

St pauli

Majewhatsit Ring Wilhelm Pieck's HouseJim is not only one of the owners of the Circus, but he is also our resident expert on the hidden corners of the city. It is Jim’s firmly held belief that some of the most interesting places in Berlin are “off the beaten track”, not least in his home neighbourhood of Pankow.

Pankow Town Centre

The centre of Pankow is the area around the lovely red brick town hall, which was built about a hundred years ago at the start of the 1900s. Also of interest is the small, idyllic church that somehow seems out of place, surrounded by the main road and the normal city buildings, which includes the delightful Rathaus Shopping Centre. The roar overhead are the planes coming in to land at Tegel airport, so close that you can see the colour of the pilot’s eyes.


This 103 year old oasis has brought happiness to generations of Pankowians. It is very green, as you would expect, with nice water fountains and statues dotted here and there. In the summer the park is always packed with people, and there is nothing better than joining the summertime drinkers at the Rosenstein beer garden and knocking back a cold one.

Majewhatsit Ring Erich Honeckers HouseMajaokowski Ring

Until the 1960s, when paranoia drove them to a fortified compound north of the city, this is where the highest levels of the East German political class lived. As you can imagine, these were and are some of the nicest houses in the city.

Some famous former residents include Wilhem Pieck (No. 29), the first President of the German Democratic Republic, and Erich Honecker – who led East Germany from 1971 until 1989. He wasn’t the last leader…that honour fell to Egon Krenz, who managed a month and a half in the job before the office ceased to exist.

Schloss NiederschonhausenSchloss Niederschönhausen

This Schloss – which translates from German to “Big Posh House” – was bought by Frederick III in 1692 for 16,000 Thalers. Now, I have no idea what a Thaler is, but it does not stop me from wanting loads of them. It was used as a royal palace on and off until 1760 when it was destroyed by the Russians. Rebuilt, it was visited again by Russian soldiers in 1945 when they turned it into an Officers Club for the Red Army.

After 1949 they handed it over to the East German government, who used it first as the Presidential seat, and then as an official government guesthouse. Some of the famous guests included Fidel Castro and Mikhail Gorbachov. It is open to the public from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm, and the entry costs €6.

Soviet Memorial PankowSoviet War Memorial Schönholzer Heide

The Battle of Berlin in April and May 1945 cost the lives of approximately 80,000 Red Army soldiers, and some 13,000 were buried here, which is the third largest Soviet memorial in Berlin after the Treptower Park and the Tiergarten. On the exterior wall there are about 100 bronze tablets with the names of the dead soldiers, and in the middle a huge obelisk which is a 33m high statue of Mother Russia.

Pankow – How to Get There

You can get from The Circus to the area covered by the map in two ways. From outside the Circus Hostel (across the street from the hotel), take the Tram M1 up the hill to U- and S-Bahnhof Pankow. Or else walk down the Torstrasse to Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and catch the U-Bahn Line 2 north, which takes you to the same place.

circus-talks-buttonNext Tuesday (November 1st) we are extremely pleased to be welcoming back to The Circus Jutta Hertlein, as part of our series of talks in cooperation with the ZZB – The Centre for Witness to Contemporary History. Frau Hertlein has been to The Circus before, and it was an extremely interesting evening as she told us all about her life and experiences of living in Berlin during the time the city was divided by the Berlin Wall.

Frau Hertlein grew up in East Berlin until the age of 13, when she moved with her mother to West Germany. At the age of 25 she moved back to Berlin with her husband, living in the West of the city for 24 years until the fall of the Berlin Wall. During that time she made many visits to friends and family in East German and the GDR, and some of the stories she tells about the border crossings are not only fascinating, but at times barely believable when we look back on it now.

After the talk Frau Hertlein will be available to answer any questions you might have. Once again we are expecting it to be an extremely interesting and informative evening and, as always, the talk will be in English and is open to everyone.


Where: Fabisch @ The Circus Hotel, Rosenthaler Strasse 1, Berlin-Mitte
When: Tuesday 1st November at 7pm
Topic: Life in the Divided City
Speaker: Frau Jutta Hertlein

festival of lights funky zigzaggy thingRight at this moment we are in the middle of the Festival of Lights, which is one of the world’s largest illumination festivals and offers a view of some of the most famous sights of Berlin in a way that you have never seen them before. This is the 7th edition of the festival, and it is well worth checking out. There are over 40 locations throughout the city, and three clusters – around the Zoo Station, Unter den Linden, and Alexanderplatz – are good starting points.

There is more information on the website, including a map of all the different illumination locations for you to explore.

Because this event is so spectacular, and because you might want to dust off the old camera and grab some pictures of the event, The Circus has teamed up with Brewer’s Best of Berlin Tours to offer a very special Night Photography tour, which will include the best locations of the Festival of Lights as well as top hints and tips to help you bag the best shot on film or, erm, digital memory card-type thingy.

The tours are running on THURSDAY, SATURDAY and SUNDAY, and the meeting point is The Circus Café at the Circus Hostel. The tours cost €5, which you pay direct to the guide, but it we kindly ask that people register their interest with us at the reception.

Enjoy the festival, meet some nice folks, and grab some great shots to impress your friends and family with. Sounds good eh?

Remember, remember the 5th November… and for the Brits out there, not for the reason you think. No, the 5th November 2011 is the take-off date for the FLY BerMuDa-Festival, the annual grand finale of the Berlin Music Days. It takes place at the historic Tempelhof Airport in Berlin, and will bring together a veritable who’s who of the best German and international electronic music artists.

Of course, electronic music has an important history in Berlin, as the organisers of the festival themselves point out:

“It‘s a fact that electronic music has been and still is strongly influenced by Berlin. There is hardly any other city, in which this scene has developed in such a creative and diverse manner. There has grown a culture around electronic music that is unparalleled in the world. That is what Berlin musically stands for and that is what the Fly BerMuDa Festival is all about.”

The diversity of the electronic music scene is clear in the acts they have lined up for the festival, including a live set from Plastikman, Sven Väth, Ricardo Villalobos, Loco Dice, Ellen Allien, James Holden, Fritz Kalkbrenner, M.A.N.D.Y., Tiefschwarz and many more. If you check out the website you can get the full line-up, plus see lots more preview videos like the one above.

What is especially exciting about the 2011 edition of the festival, is that we have been invited to be partners in the event, which means not only is The Circus recommended by the organisers as a place for festival-goers to stay, but also that we have tickets available at the reception. If you are interested, please let us know, and we will have more updates and information closer to the event.

Party on.

aroundberlinin80beersPeter Sutcliffe has been a good friend of The Circus for many years – indeed we think of Peter as part of the family – and he has recently written a book all about a specific aspect of this city that we love: the Beer. Now, as you can imagine, discovering that someone has basically written a book just for me, filled with a selection of pubs and brews throughout the many corners of the city, is just too good to be true. Planning my Saturday afternoon trips around Berlin has just got a lot easier!

The book is so well-researched that even the most well-informed Berlin-Beeristas (such as myself) must bow down in respect. Complete with maps, descriptions and facts about the pubs and the beers they served, it all comes together to show the passion that Peter has brought to the subject. What Peter doesn’t know about the Berlin pub scene is most probably not worth knowing!

Now, as you might have gathered, I feel my drinking credentials are pretty sound. 22 years under my belt and 13 of them in Berlin. If I never drink another beer in my life I can safely say I have had my fair share. Indeed, one of my proudest achievements was simply surviving the legendary all-day sessions at the Sunderland University Beer Festival (1992 & 1993 – I went back for more!) and my souvenir tankard still has pride of place at my Mum’s house. Thanks Mum for not throwing it out…

Where was I? Ah yes, beer. So, what is the best beer in the world according to Jimbo? I think you could do a lot worse than a Radeberger, from a small town near Dresden, which was also Vladimir Putin’s favourite tipple during his KGB days in East Germany in the 1980s. You can find the best place to sample Radeberger on page 66 of Peter’s book.

And if you are looking for a warning? The very worst you can inflict on your guts? Well of course, it features on no page of Peter’s wonderful book because not only does he have extremely high standards but I doubt there is a bar in Berlin that serves up a pint of Stockport’s own Robinson’s Bitter. Perhaps I should not be so snobbish about my hometown brew. Then again, living in Germany gives you certain standards… Maybe I should just follow the advice of my Granddad, handed down through the generations:

“It does not matter what it tastes like as long as there is plenty of it.”
Norman Penders, ca. 1940

Now, would Mr Sutcliffe agree with my granddad? I’m not so sure…

You can buy a copy of Peter Sutcliffe’s book “Around Berlin in 80 Beers” at The Circus Hotel, or direct from the publishers at Books About Beer. If you would like a little taster of what to expect in the book, Peter recently wrote an article for the guardian on the subject.