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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.

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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.


The Neighborhood

Mommenstrasse

  • Brera, 71 Mommenstrasse. Modern design home accessories, bedding and light fixtures.
  • L & P Classics, at the corner of Mommenstrasse and Knesebeckstrasse. Records and CDs.
  • Linum, 5 Mommenstrasse. New and antique country linens, pillows, nightgowns.
  • Briganti, 15 Weilandstrasse. Small wine and deli specializing in Italian and Spanish wines, some of which are available for tasting on the weekends.

Leibnizstrasse: between Mommenstrasse and Niebuhrstrasse

  • Tavolo Calada, Leibnizstrasse 45. Excellent small Italian restaurant with interesting art. Pastas range from $10-1$12.
  • Pasticceria Italiana, Leibnizstrasse. Next to Tavolo. Old fashioned pastry shop with wonderful looking cakes in the window. Old overstuffed furniture in eating area.
  • First Reiseburo, next to Pasticceria. Make train reservations here.

Niebuhrstrasse

  • The English Scent, 10 Niebuhrstrasse. Fragrances from England. Soaps, old time shaving gear, Mason Pearson hairbrushes.
  • Taverna Akropolis, at the corner of Niebuhrstrasse and Wielandstrasse. As we passed by one evening, Greek dancers performed for the outdoor diners.
  • Kunsthandel Haus, 5 Niebuhrstrasse. Gallery with expensive art.
  • Bramigk & Breer, Emma & Co, 1 Niebuhrstrasse. Country-style interior design fabrics and accessories. Also in this space is Emma & Co., high-end children's clothing.

Bleibtreustrasse

  • Astoria Art Deco, 42 Bleibtreu. Light fixtures, jewelry and furniture from the Art Deco period.
  • Lubitsch, near Astoria. Café and restaurant. Lunch specials range from about $8 to $12.
  • Alt Berlin, 48 Bleibtreustrasse. Antique store.
  • Art, Savignypassage Bogen 605. Antiques including posters, metal signs, metal boxes of all sizes, musical instruments and matchbook covers.
  • XXII Apostles, Savignypassage, across from Art. Attractive and popular restaurant open 24-hours. Great pizza. Pastas $10-$12, fish and meat dishes $15-$18.

Knesebeckstrasse

  • Berliner Zinnfiguren, Knesebeckstrasse 88. Retailer of extraordinary tin and pewter soldiers and entire battles. Open since 1934. Wells Fargo stage and horses about E1000 ($1,083); Hussar on a horse about E500 ($542); Napoleon on horseback about E450 ($488).

Grolmanstrasse

  • Café Tucci: salads and pastas from about $8-$12.
  • There are dozens of women's clothing stores throughout the neighborhood.

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