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The right mix of residence and commerce in the Savignyplatz quarter make for one of Berlin's most appealing urban neighborhoods.

Hotel Art Nouveau
Hotel Art Nouveau

Perhaps no European city had more eventful 20th century than Berlin. In the 1920s it was the most exciting metropolis on the continent, full of the best musicians, scientists, actors, movie-makers, architects, brains, and villains: Albert Einstein, Marlene Dietrich, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill, Lotte Lenya, Fritz Lang, Peter Lorre, Paul Klee, Sol Hurok, Walter Gropius, the Vladimirs Nabokov and Horowitz, Otto Klemperer and, of course, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels. It was, in all senses of the word, liberal. And it rocked—literally around the clock. The playwright/poet Brecht, wrote "...everywhere there is toil and trouble, but here we'll have fun...gin and whiskey, girls and boys...and the big typhoons don't come as far as here."

Brecht's weather report was wrong. World War II brought almost total destruction, followed by decades in which the city was ideologically and physically divided. The western portion was a free-world island in an unfriendly, totalitarian sea. The cutoff eastern half withered under communism.

Book sightseeing, local transportation, tours, day excursions from Berlin

But there was still more high drama. In 1989, the dividing walls were literally pushed down and the city and the country were again united, setting off a massive—and expensive—rebirth. Berlin is again Germany's capital. And, for the traveler with a bent for recent history, Europe's number one destination.

The streets and byways around the Savignyplatz quarter comprise one of the city's most appealing neighborhoods. Located just north of the fashionable Kurfürstendamm's many attractions, it is an area of diverse shops and dozens of restaurants representing a wide variety of cultures. Its tree-lined streets are sedate compared to the bustle and hurry of the Ku'damm and it offers that just-right mix of residence and commerce that seems to mark the best urban neighborhoods.

Here are some of its shops, restaurants, and nightclubs.