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Kreuzberg, Germany

29 May 2017

Words: Kaye Martindale / Images: Geoff Brokate

Located south of Berlin’s Spree river, Kreuzberg is just a bridge and a couple of blocks away from the old world grandeur of the capital’s city centre but it’s light years away from its polished and stately feel. The neighbourhood is the epitome of urban cool, with hipsters whiling away the hours on pavement terraces, a plethora of contemporary art galleries, boutique stores and graffiti adorning every wall. Unlike many such neighbourhoods, Kreuzberg has resisted wholesale gentrification and retains a sense of originality and edginess. The streets have a palpable sense of the excitement of creativity and the buzz of possibility.

With its imposing architecture, retro feel and leftist atmosphere, most visitors would be forgiven for assuming Kreuzberg had been in the Eastern Bloc during the city’s divided years. It was, however, located within West Berlin, bordered to the north and east by the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall. Despite being part of the wealthy and prosperous West Germany, the housing in Kreuzberg was of poor quality and in the 1960s Turkish immigrants, drawn by cheap rents, flocked to the area. After the fall of the wall in 1989, a new wave of punks, artists and dissidents moved in, changing the face of the district and paving the way for Kreuzberg to become one of the world’s most dynamic and creative neighbourhoods.

Kreuzberg is a vast district and as such it is divided into east and west, with the Landwehr canal threading through the middle. But to see the real Kreuzberg it’s worth taking a detour off its main thoroughfares, where you can find amazing fresh food markets, authentic Turkish hammams, artist-run galleries and lively parks.

IMAGO

From the street, Imago looks like an exclusive contemporary bar, with slick windows and a minimal sign that gives little away. Upon stepping through its doors, however, you’re greeted by a magnificent creation that resembles a beautifully crafted spaceship – the type you would expect to see on the cover of a Julves Verne novel, perhaps.

The machine in question, Imago’s founder and creative director Suzanna Kraus explains, is the world’s largest camera. Invented by her father Werner Kraus in 1970, it uses a giant lens and mirrors to create a life-size photograph, developed while you wait. A combination of walk-in Polaroid, portable studio and selfie camera, the images combine the timeless quality of antique prints with the modern day obsession with documentation. It’s proved quite a hit.

Numerous celebrities have already stepped into Imago to have their image captured, and now individuals and families have the opportunity to visit Kraus’ studio and exhibition space and take home their own personalised work of art.

Prinzenstrasse 85, 10969

Berlin

Tel: +49 30 52132617

imagocamera.com

Also in the area...

Market Halle Neun

A sunset visit here for Street Food Thursday will make you wish you lived in Kreuzberg. It’s exciting, lively, colourful and feels as if the whole city is there with the sole purpose of having a good time.

Eisenbahnstrasse 42-43
10997
Berlin
Tel: +49 30 61073473
markthalleneun.de

MUSEUM DER DINGE

The curiously named Museum of Things is one of Kreuzberg’s hidden gems. With no signs allowed on the protected building, visitors have to enter what looks like an apartment building and climb the stairs to find the museum on the third floor. The permanent collection is displayed as open storage, which creates the sensation of having privileged access to the museum’s archive of objects. A labyrinth of glass cabinets takes visitors through the vast history of the design and production of objects from the 20th and 21st century.

The objects on display range from retro TVs and old cameras to 1950s watercolour paints and wartime memorabilia. The collection is displayed in what seems, at first glance, to be a random hotch-potch but upon reflection the assemblages allow you to map your own path and make personal associations bewtween the objects. A homage to the ordinary, the museum doesn’t feature many pieces by famous designers but chooses to elevate the anonymous, kitsch items and mass-produced objects.

Oranienstrasse 25

10999

Berlin

Tel: +49 30 92106311

museumderdinge.de

Also in the area...

Cafe Avril

This sweet cafe is located in Graefekiez, one of Kreuzberg’s less visited and more picturesque areas. The cafe’s terrace is a lovely spot to while away the hours and enjoy the neighbourhood’s unhurried pace of life.

Graefestrasse 83
10967 Berlin
Tel:+49 30 62735398
cafe-avril.com

VOO

Typifying the urban-meets-industrial aesthetic, Voo’s carefully chipped concrete, exposed brick and peeling paint decor exudes cool. Frequented by Kreuzberg’s in-the-know hipsters, Voo is a genuine concept store. Open for five years, it is a stylish one-stop-shop for clothing, books, furniture and accessories. Voo’s creative director and curator Herbert Hoffman handpicks each item on sale. The store also features work from 35 to 50 different designers each season.

Located in a spacious former locksmith workshop, the store is hidden away at the back of a peaceful courtyard off Oranienstrasse, Kreuzberg’s main thoroughfare, which further adds to its exclusive vibe. After you’ve finished shopping, you can sit down, take stock of your purchases and enjoy an expertly crafted drink at the store’s café, Companion Coffee. Designed by architect Sigurd Larson it retains its own distinct style, taking Voo’s industrial look and giving it a softer edge.

Oranienstrasse 24

10999

Berlin

Tel: +49 30 6957972710

vooberlin.com

Also in the area...

3 Schwestern


Offering a calm atmosphere away from the hustle of the city’s streets, 3 Schwestern has no wifi and a no-work policy and its organic and locally sourced cuisine is inspired by the Alpine food of Germany’s southern mountain region.

Mariannenpl. 2
10997
Berlin
Tel: +49 30 60031860
3schwestern-berlin.de

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