The city turns back to its Cold War center, the Kurfürstendamm and Charlottenberg

The KuDamm Turns 125

Since Berlin’s unification the tourism focus has been on the massive construction and re-birth of the city’s eastern sectors. This year, however, attention turns back to the west as Berlin’s number one shopping street, Kurfürstendamm celebrates its 125th birthday. In 1542 it was no more than a riding path connecting Berlin’s palace with a hunting castle in the Grunewald forest. The now-famous boulevard’s official birth was 1886 when the steam streetcar line Zoo Grunewald began operation. The street was paved for the first time that same year. During the cold war, of course, the KuDamm was an exciting, swank, beacon of capitalism surrounded by the now defunct East Germany.

New Dining Options in the West

Ground zero for western Berlin’s burgeoning restaurant scene are Fasanenstrasse and Ludwigkirchplatz. Classic German dishes such as blood sausage and stuffed pig’s stomach are among the staples at Esswein on Fasenenstrasse. A central, open grill and top quality meat are attention grabbers at Universum Grill on Lehniner Platz. Next door is the futuristic Universum Bar in the Eric Mendelsohn-designed 1920s Schaubühne theater. At Dahlmann Strasse 22, Restaurant Weger serves more refined cuisine in its small, minimalist dining room

Waldorf Comes to Berlin

Later this year, the newly constructed Waldorf Astoria Berlin will open near the Zoo Station in western Berlin very near the KuDamm. The 31-floor luxury hotel will offer 242 guestrooms plus the usual five-star wellness-spa-restaurant-bar amenities.

Galleries Go West

The Charlottenberg district is attracting some of the city’s creative talent that had been located in trendy eastern Berlin neighborhoods. More than 30 galleries have relocated to the Mommenstrasse, Kurfürstendamm and Fasanenstrasse area, making it a center for the city’s gallery scene. Newcomers include Susanne Albrecht’s gallery for alternative works, and Galerie Buchholz, which recently featured Isa Genzken and Wolfgang Tillmans. More edgy is Freies Museum Berlin on Potsdamer Strasse, a collection of studios, archives, and exhibition space located in a 19th century factory, and founded in 2009 by a group of artists.

Shopping & Design

While the west’s anchor shopping emporium is the great department store, KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens/Department Store of the West), 645,000 square feet on eight floors, KuDamm side streets have attracted a number of up-and-coming young designers including Nana Kuckuck, Anna von Griesheim, and Daniel Rodan. Mareen Weden’s “Mareen Mo” label is located on Fasanenstrasse and the Brit-style men’s store, “Chelsea Farmers Club” is on Bleibtreustrasse. Green and environmentally-friendly fashion is the concept at “de la Reh” at Nürnbergerstrasse 23.