All around the Circus and Rosenthaler Platz are some interesting streets and other places that are worth exploring. Here on the Circus blog we will be making some imaginary journeys around our neighbourhood to see what we can find…first up: Brunnenstraße.
Brunnenstraße starts at Rosenthaler Platz which, as you can see from the photo above, means that its starts right outside both the Circus hostel and hotel. It then runs north through the last few blocks of Mitte, before it crosses the Bernauer Straße and heads into Wedding. To walk from one end to the other will probably take about thirty to forty-five minutes, depending on your speed, but it also follows the U8 line so it is always possible to jump on the U-Bahn for the short journey home.
As you walk up from Rosenthaler Platz you will pass a number of different cafes, restaurants, kebab shops and other places to grab a bite to eat. I like the Japanese restaurant Aiko (no.193) which has extremely tasty sushi and tepanyaki dishes, and the good folks are pretty friendly too. Close by there are a couple of shops worth checking out. s wert (no.191) has a mix of books, collectables, interior design articles and other stuff that basically showcases the best of their own work and other Berlin designers. You can see some of the stuff in the reception of both the hostel and the hotel, but take the time to pop down the street to have a look.
Smuckfrage (no.187) is a jewellry store with collections from different designers….now, this is not really my area of expertise, but Julia – who is sitting next to me in the office as I write this – says that their work is “individual, unique, very tempting and not too expensive.” So what more of a recommendation do you need?
If you are walking north at some point you will pass the bottom end of the Weinbergspark (nice pond), which has a neat slope that is good for sun-bathing or sledging, depending what time of the year that you are here. And once you are past the park, you are getting close to a strip where you will find some cool bars and interesting galleries.
The King Kong Klub (no.173) is, in their own words, a “mecca for monkey business”, and is open every night from 10pm for cheap drinks, kitsch videos and “full-on trash nights”. Two galleries near here that are worth a look at the Invaliden1 (no.22) – an artist-run gallery that is a collaboration of six Berlin-bnased artists – and the ATM Gallery (no.24) – which showcases the international street art scene in a galley setting.
Now, if you were a world famous film director in town for a few months to shoot a movie, where would you head for a drink after a hard day behind (or beside) the camera? Yes, that’s right, you would choose the place that was named after you. Tarantino’s bar is at no. 163 and is apparently Quentin’s favourite watering hole in town. Who is up for a pint at Paul’s Pub? Anyone?
Not even Tarantino has the control over his performers as the fellow across the street, however. Mirakulum (no.35) is a puppet theatre that has been entertaining on Brunnenstraße since 1991, and the programme is not only for kids, as there are performances for adults as well. For some reason this makes me think of the scene in Team America, which is probably doing the folks at Mirakulum a grave disservice…
So if you have not been distracted by Berlin design, cool beers, or puppet shows, you will be reaching the corner with Bernauer Straße and the former dividing line between East and West Berlin. This is where the Berlin Wall split Brunnenstraße in two, and you can see the path of the wall in a row of cobblestones that cross the street just before the junction. To the left, and not far from the corner, is the Berlin Wall Documentation Centre, which houses an excellent exhibition on the history of the Berlin Wall and a short stretch of the fortifications preserved to give visitors an idea of what it looked like.
Across the street and into West Berlin and the district of Wedding. There is not much to see along the Brunnenstraße at this point, although you can get a sense of the contrasting architectural styles of East and West Berlin, and there are a number of galleries opening up, taking advantage of the cheap real estate in the neighbourhood. Just past the Voltastraße U-Bahn station and you will come to the southern end of the Humboldthain park, a popular green space that rises to a hill constructed out of the rubble creating by the WWII bombing raids on the city. There is also some nice gardens, an outdoor swimming pool (in the summer) and a wartime bunker…
…which is best explored with a guide from the guys at Berlin Unterwelten (no.105). They offer underground tours (literally, as in “under the ground”) of Berlin, most of which are in the area beneath where you would now be standing if you followed the walk up the Brunnenstraße. The tours are offered in different languages, and will take you to some of the subterranean complexes beneath Berlin’s streets, many of which are inaccessible to the general public.
Just past the meeting point of the tours and the Brunnenstraße comes to an end, right in front of the Gesundbrunnen railway station (U8 to home if your feet are aching) and the large shopping centre of the same name. There is not much about the Gesundbrunnen centre that is worth noting here – it’s a shopping centre – although my daughter likes the ice cream at the cafe upstairs.
And there our exploration finishes, in amongst the happy and by-no-means stressed Saturday shoppers. I hope you enjoyed the trip.