Nature Park Travel - Europe off the beaten track
City Trips: Berlin
Berlin's attraction and myth are made of
Berlin's lively 1920's metropolitan culture stopped abruptly when the National Socialists came to power. Competing in the Cold War, East and West Berlin artificially revived and subsidised arts and letters.
Today, covering unhealed scars, international art, political and commercial representations, Jewish institutions, urban events, politicians and journalists, newspapers and publishing houses have returned to the city. Once again, life in Berlin can be an exciting metropolitan experience.
Friedrichstadtpalast in Friedrichstrasse 107 represents Berlin's chorus line tradition (U-train station Oranienburger Tor, U6, S- and U-train station Friedrichstrasse S1, S2, S25, S26, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U6).
The Wintergarten Variete used to be a famous 1920's Friedrichstrasse establishment. Today's Wintergarten Variete is located in Potsdamer Strasse 96 in Berlin-Tiergarten (U-train station Kurfuerstenstrasse, U1, U-train station Buelowstrasse, U2).
The Chamaeleon Variete in the Hackesche Hoefe courtyard at Rosenthaler Strasse 40-41 shows modern variety acts and comedy (S-train station Hackescher Markt, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9).
In a 1912 Dutch mirror tent, constructed for dances, the Bar jeder Vernunft offers theater and cabaret in Schaperstrasse 24, the tent is located near Kurfuerstendamm on the parking deck adjoining the Haus der Berliner Festspiele (U-train station Spichernstrasse, U1, U9). In Tiergarten, the Bar jeder Vernunft - bar with no sanity - has a local branch in the Grosse Querallee in front of the German chancellor's office. (S-train station Unter den Linden, S1, S2, S25, S26, bus 100, boat pier Haus der Kulturen der Welt). Singers, cabaret and comedy stars perform in the restaurant tent.
In Berlin Tempelhof the alternative Internationales Kulturzentrum UFA-Fabrik - a former film production factory - in Victoriastrasse 10-18 shows comedy and variety acts (U-train station Ullsteinstrasse, U6). You can book the artists via the inhouse agency for your party.
The former east west transit hall Traenenpalast at Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse station shows a mixed program of jazz, comedy and political literary cabaret (S1, S2, S25, S26, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U6) .
You need an excellent simultaneous translator whispering into your ear or have to learn German really fast if you want to enjoy Berlin's political literary cabaret. Following the jokes might still turn out difficult, as most of the puns are local. Should you insist, there are quite a few places to choose from.
Founded in 1949 the Stachelschweine - porcupines, a political cabaret based in the Europa Center in Tauentzienstrasse, have their roots in 'West-Berlin' (S-train station Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten, S3, S5, S7,S75, S9, U-train station Kurfuerstendamm, U9, or Wittenberg-Platz, U1, U2, U3). The Distel - thistle - in Friedrichstrasse 101 is their thorny East Berlin counterpart (S and U-train station Friedrichstrasse, S1, S2, S25, S26, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U6).
Founded in 1960, the West Berlin cabaret and theater Die Wuehlmaeuse - synonymous for muck-raisers - today resides in Pommernalle 2-4 (U-train station Theodor-Heuss-Platz, U2).
The Kabarett Kartoon in Axel-Springer-Passage / Kochstrasse 50 claims East Berlin heritage (U-train station Kochstrasse, U6, U-train station Spittelmarkt, U2).
In Kreuzberg you watch guest performances in the BKA - Berliner Kabarett Anstalt in Mehringdamm 35 (U-train station Mehringdamm, U7) and in the Mehringhof-Theater in Gneisenaustrasse 2a (U-train station Mehringdamm, U6, U7).
The Berliner Kabarett Anstalt has a branch office at Schlossplatz - the Luftschloss (S-train station Hackescher Markt, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, Lustgarten stop, bus 100, 200).
In Berlin Steglitz the Schlossparktheater in the Neo Classicist Wrangel-Schlösschen palace stages musicals (U-train station Schloss-Strasse, U- and S-train station Rathaus Steglitz, U9, S1, bus 148, 185, 186).
A private musical theater near Kurfuerstendamm Avenue, Theater des Westens was built from 1895 to 1896, designed in an excentric mix of styles including Art Noveau (Kantstrasse 12, S- and U-train station Zoologischer Garten, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2, U9, U-train station Uhlandstrasse, U1, Kurfuerstendamm, U9).
In the very modern building of the Theater am Potsdamer Platz at Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 1, you see big musical productions (S- and U-train station Potsdamer Platz, S1, S2, S25, S26, U2, bus 200).
As part of the Berliner Festspiele, each year in November there is a Jazz Festival.
Berlin jazz groups play at the b-flat acoustic music and jazz club in the Hackesche Hoefe courtyards, Rosenthaler Strasse 13 (U-train stations Rosenthaler Platz or Weinmeisterstrasse, U8, S-train station Hackescher Markt, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9).
Around the corner from Savigny Platz and Kurfuerstendamm there are two jazz clubs (S- and U-train station Zoologischer Garten, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2, U9, U-train stations Uhlandstrasse, U1, Kurfuerstendamm, U9). In the Quasimodo Jazz-Club and Cafe in Kantstrasse 12a next to the Delphi Kino and the Theater des Westens you meet internationally famous jazz stars. The Quasimodo dates back to 1969. In the A-Trane in Bleibtreustrasse 1 at the corner to Pestalozzi-Strasse new blood gets a chance - here you listen to small jazz projects, sometimes without having to pay for the entrance.
Slightly further away from Kurfuerstendamm avenue the Badensche Hof cultivates swing. You find the Badensche Hof - jazz club, restaurant and musical cafe plus front garden - in the Badensche Strasse 29 at the corner of Berliner Strasse (U-train stations Blissestrasse or Berliner Strasse, U7).
In Prenzlauer Berg you listen to concerts in the Kesselhaus of the Kulturbrauerei in Schoenhauser Allee 36 (U-train station Eberswalder Strasse, U2) or in Greifswalder Strasse 224 in the Knaack Club, the former GDR "Jugendheim Ernst Knaack" (Am Friedrichshain stop, Tram M4, from S- and U-train station Alexanderplatz, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2, U5, U8, bus 100, 200).
The Kreuzberg S036 in Oranienstrasse 190 (U-train station Kottbusser Tor, U8, U-train station Goerlitzer Bahnhof, U1, bus 129) used to be the hall of a beergarden built in 1861. The "concert hall for progressive music" dates back to the era of punks and squatters.
At the border between Kreuzberg and Tempelhof at Tempelhofer Damm 2 the Columbiahalle, used to be a sports hall owned by the Allies (U-train station Platz der Luftbruecke, U6).
Between Kreuzberg and Treptow at the Spree river bank the Arena - a former 1920's bus depot - hosts concerts and theater performances (U-train station Schlesisches Tor, U1, S-train station Treptower Park, S9, S42, S41).
The Tempodrom building in Moeckernstrasse 10 at Anhalter Bahnhof in Kreuzberg was modeled on the former Tempodrom circus tent at Potsdamer Platz. The alternative project has become an established location for all kinds of events (U-train station Moeckernbruecke, U7, U-train station Hallesches Tor, U1, U6, S-train station Anhalter Bahnhof, S1, S2).
On the occasion of Berlin's - failed - application for the Olympic Games 2000, in Prenzlauer Berg the Max-Schmeling-Halle at Falkplatz and the Velodrom in Paul-Heyse-Strasse 26 were built. The Olympic Games 2000 went to Sidney, large concerts are staged in the two halls (U-train station Eberswalder Strasse, U2, S- and U-train station Schoenhauser Allee S4, S8, S41, S42, S85, U2, U8).
At the Waldbuehne and in the Olympiastadion, on the site of the 1936 Olympic Games in Charlottenburg, you enjoy open air concerts (Waldbuehne, S-train station Pichelsberg, S5, S75, Olympiastadion S- and U-train station, S5, S75, U2). In East Berlin, between Karlshorst and Koepenick, next to a youth center the Parkbuehne Wuhlheide stages open air concerts in summer (S-train station Wuhlheide, S3).
In the Haus der Kulturen der Welt the summer music festival popdeurope takes place from the middle of July onwards (S-train station Lehrter Bahnhof, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9).
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the center of Berlin's art galleries has shifted from the by-roads of the Kurfuerstendamm avenue to the Spandauer Vorstadt around Oranienburger Strasse: the courtyards of the Hackesche Hoefe, the Sophie-Gips-Hoefe, the Auguststrasse and Tucholskystrasse (S-train station Oranienburger Strasse, S1, S2, S-train station Hackescher Markt, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U-train stations Oranienburger Tor, U6, Weinmeisterstrasse, Rosenthaler Platz, U8, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, U2).
Every two years in spring the Berlin Biennal for Contemporary Art takes place.
Every autumn an extensive supporting program accompanies the Art Forum Berlin fair (Fairgrounds, train, S- and U-train stations Westkreuz, Messe-Sued, Kaiserdamm, Messe Nord, ICC, S41, S42, S45, S46, S47, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2).
You get an overview of Berlin's galleries, artists and exhibitions on the internet by the Regional Association of Berlin Galleries.
End of September and beginning of October concerts and parties accompany the Popkomm music fair: 30 Berlin clubs take part in the long club night - you buy one entrance ticket for all the clubs, a shuttle bus takes you from place to place.
You find lists of Berlin's clubs in Berlin's papers or in the internet. There are flyers announcing events in the trendy pubs and bars along Oranienburger Strasse, in Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg.
A few projects started off by West Berlin's alternative movement did survive: In the Tempelhof Victoriastrasse 10-18 you find cinemas, a theatre staging comedy and variety acts, a health food bakery's shop and cafe, a guest house, a children's farm and a children's circus, courses and workshops in the former Ufa-Fabrik film processing laboratory. You can book the Ufa-Fabrik's artists for your parties via an inhouse agency (U-train station Ullsteinstrasse, U6).
A similar concept exists in the Kreuzberg Mehringhof in Gneisenaustrasse 2a with an independent school, bookshop, bycicle shop, pub and theater (U-train station Gneisenaustrasse, U7).
The autonomous international art house Tacheles in East Berlin's Oranienburger Strasse 54-46 dates back to the 1990's (S-train station Oranienburger Strasse, S1, S2, U-train station Oranienburger Tor, U6).
In Muehlendamm 5 in the Nikolai-Viertel district the cannabis museum - Berliner Hanfmuseum, cafe and herb bar, promote legalization. The legendary late West Berlin alternative comedian Wolfgang Neuss embodies what cannabis can do to you (U-train station Klosterstrasse, U2).
Up to the 1930's Berlin was a fashion center. During the last few years "Berlin Style" developed once again.
In Prenzlauer Berg around Kastanienallee and Oderberger Strasse young designers sell fashion at moderate prices.
The Berlin Premium fashion fair caters for more exclusive tastes.
Sexual freedom and the homosexual liberation movement have a long tradition in Berlin from the pioneer of sexual research Magnus Hirschfeld to the famous words of the present mayor Klaus Wowereit on the occasion of his public coming out " ...and it is good as it is".
The Schwule Museum - gay museum - in Mehringdamm 61 in Kreuzberg shows homosexual lifestyles from 1850 up to today (U-train station Mehringdamm, U6, U7).
Stars and politicians make a point of taking part in Berlin's Christopher Street Day. Christopher Street Day's 600 000 visitors come close to the number of people taking part in Berlin's Love Parade.
Christopher Street Day is preceded by June's Motzstrassenfest, Europe's largest homosexual street party around Nollendorfplatz (U-train station, U1, U2, U3, U4) along Motzstrasse, Eisenacher Strasse, Fuggerstrasse and Kalckreuthstrasse.
Berlin's gay and lesbian scene has met in Fuggerstrasse, Motzstrasse, Kalckreuthstrasse and at Kleist Park for nearly a century. Christopher Isherwood lived in Nollendorfstrasse 17, Else Lasker-Schueler in Motzstrasse 7, David Bowie and Iggy Pop in Hauptstrasse 155.
Berlin's Tourism Marketing considers homo- and heterosexual visitors to be important target groups: For gays and lesbians the organisation organizes special Berlin programs: information on the 'Berlin scene', events, walks and accommodation.
For heterosexual Berlin visitors Berlin's Tourism Marketing offers an "Adults Only" program. You get an introduction at the Erotik-Museum Beate Uhse at Joachimsthaler Strasse 4 (S- und U-train station Zoologischer Garten, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2, U9). Founded by German sex shop owner Beate Uhse, the museum shows erotic art: sculptures, paintings and films.
People have been moving to Berlin since the first recruitment activities of the Great Elector - artisans, workers, students, writers, actors, artists, allies, refugees.
You get a lively impression of Berlin's multiculture at Kreuzberg's Carnival of Cultures in May , at the German-French Volksfest fair on the Tegel fairground in June (U-train station Kurt-Schumacher-Platz, U6, U-train station Jakob-Kaiser-Platz, U7), at the German-American Volksfest fair in Dahlem in Huettenweg at the corner of Clay-Allee avenue in August (U-train station Oskar-Helene-Heim, U1) and at the Berliner Oktoberfest on the Tegel fairground in the first two weeks of October (U-train station Kurt-Schumacher-Platz, U6, U-train station Jakob-Kaiser-Platz, U7) - with Bavarian brassbands, stein lifting competitions, finger wrestling and yodelling.
Or you listen to the 106,8 mhz Radio Multikulti Berlin.
On Tuesdays and Fridays you can buy exotic stuff at the "Turkish Market" on Maybach bank (U-train station Kottbusser Tor, U1, U8).
The Internet portal www.007-berlin.de caters for Berlin citizens interested in Russia or Russian speaking - in German and in Russian.
You find foreign embassies and the adjoined culture institutes all over Berlin. The Polnische Kulturinstitut in Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 77 (S- and U-train station Alexanderplatz, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2, U5, U8, S-train station Hackescher Markt, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9) got a competitor: Around the corner in Torstrasse 66 artists meet at the successful Polish Losers Club - Club der polnischen Versager (U-train station Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, U2, U-train station Rosenthaler Platz, U8).
The "HdKW - Haus der Kulturen der Welt - House of the Cultures of the World" concentrates on non-European - i.e. Asian, African, Latin American and Middle East - art, dance, theatre, literature, film, media and on the cultural consequences of globalizatiion, HdKW projects emphasise intercultural cooperation. The HdkW Kongresshalle is situated close to the Reichstag at the Spree river, designed by Hugh Stebbins the Kongresshalle was the United States contribution for the INTERBAU 1957 exhibition (Lehrter Bahnhof Berlin Central Station, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9).
Around 1900, the Spandauer Vorstadt around Oranienburger Strasse was Berlin's Jewish quarter (S-train station Oranienburger Strasse S1, S2, U-train station Oranienburger Tor, U6).
Berlin's Jewish citizens contributed considerably to the city's cultural, scientific and economic importance: the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, literary hostess Rahel Varnhagen, the composers Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Paul Dessau and Kurt Weill, nobel prize winners Fritz Haber and Albert Einstein, the publishers Leopold Ullstein, Samuel Fischer and Rudolf Mosse, the department store founders Hermann Tietz (Hertie), Arthur Wertheim and Adolf Jandorf (Kadewe), the industrialist and politician Walther Rathenau, the theater director Max Reinhardt, the scholars Gerschom Scholem and Leo Baeck, the writers Alfred Doeblin and Kurt Tucholsky, the film director Billy Wilder ...
The "memorial for the Jewish citizens of Berlin - the abandoned space" symbolizes the vacancy forced by National Socialist's violence: At Koppenplatz square there is a bronze table with two chairs, one of the chairs has been knocked over (U-train stations Rosenthaler Platz, Weinmeisterstrasse, U8).
Today around Neue Synagoge in Oranienburger Strasse Jewish institutions have returned: the Juedische Gemeinde zu Berlin in Oranienburger Strasse 28, the Israelitische Synagogen-Gemeinde zu Berlin Adass Jisroel in their 1903 historic building in Tucholskystrasse 40, the Juedische Kulturverein Berlin e.V. in Oranienburger Strasse 26, the Zentralrat der Juden in the former house of the Academy for Jewish Science in Tucholskystrasse 14.
In Prenzlauer Berg at the synagogue in Rykestrasse 53 the Lauder Foundation revives Jewish life in Central and Eastern Europe (U-train station Senefelder Strasse, U2).
The Restaurant Am Wasserturm offers Jewish and Israeli cuisine near the Rykestrasse synagogue.
In West Berlin the seat of the Juedische Gemeinde zu Berlin is in Fasanenstrasse 79-80, you get kosher food in the Arche Noah restaurant of the community center (S- and U-train station Zoologischer Garten, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2, U9, U-train station Uhlandstrasse, U1, U-train station Kurfuerstendamm, U9).
The Juedische Theaterbuehne Berlin - Bamah theater in Hohenzollerndamm 177 stages classical East Jewish plays, German Jewish playwrights and Israeli theater - for everybody who is interested in Jewish culture (U-train station Fehrbelliner Platz, U1, U2).
In the Internet www.milch-und-honig.com caters for Jewish visitors and offers guided tours, contacts to Berlin's Jewish community, research.
Berlin's theaters date back to the 19th century. Basically every famous German actor and every famous German theater director worked in Berlin at some stage of their career.
The Classicist building of the Deutsche Theaters in Schumannstrasse 13a was put up from 1849 to 1850, the theater itself was founded in 1883 (U-train station Oranienburger Tor, U6, or U- and S-train station Friedrichstrasse S1, S2, S25, S26, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U6). Max Reinhardt was the director from 1905 to 1932. Reinhardt's assistant Heinz Hilpert continued the theater with a Classical Humanist Program through the Nazi era. In 1945 the theater opened with Lessing's "Nathan der Weise".
Workers clubs founded the Volksbuehne at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in 1890 with the motto "Die Kunst dem Volke" - art to the people (U-train station Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, U2). In 1914 the Volksbuehne theater moved into the building at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz designed by the theater architect Oskar Kaufmann. Max Reinhardt was the manager, Erwin Piscator the director, Hans Albers acted on the stage.
Productions by the Volksbuehne and the Deutsche Theater were internationally renowned in GDR times, Benno Besson and Heiner Mueller worked for both stages.
Today in the Deutsche Theater the great plays of world literature are put on stage - from Sophokles to Brecht. The Volksbuehne plays modern theater put on stage by directors like Castorf, Schlingensief and Marthaler, catering for a young audience with concerts, club nights and films. Apart from the house at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz the Volksbuehne manages the Prater stage in Kastanienallee in Prenzlauer Berg - young theater in Berlin's oldest beergarden (U-train station Eberswalder Strasse, U2).
Operetta used to be performed in the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm built from 1891 to 1892. From 1925 to 1933 the first productions of Carl Zuckmayer's plays took place here, Bertold Brecht's "Three Penny Opera" was put on stage and the "Pioniere in Ingolstadt" by Marieluise Fleisser. In 1954 Bertold Brecht's and Helene Weigel's Berliner Ensemble moved into the building. Today the Berliner Ensemble works with renowned directors and stages - apart from Bertold Brecht's plays - all sorts of established theatrical work (S- and U-train station Friedrichstrasse S1, S2, S25, S26, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U6).
Dating back to 1825, the Classicist building of the Maxim-Gorki-Theater in Festungsgraben 2 was originally intended for the Berliner Singakademie (S-train station Hackescher Markt, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9). Franz Liszt gave concerts here, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi, Clara Schumann, Nicolo Paganini and Arthur Rubinstein. In 1947 the 'Theater of the House of Culture of the Soviet Union' opend in the concert hall. In 1952 the newly founded Maxim Gorki Theater moved in. The Maxim Gorki Theater today is one of Germany's leading stages - the program centers on plays relating to Berlin like "Berlin Alexanderplatz", "The Captain of Koepenick" and "Effi Briest".
The Schaubuehne at Lehniner Platz, founded in West Berlin in 1962, became famous by Peter Stein's productions (U-train stations Kurfuerstendamm 153, Adenauerplatz, U7). Today, both plays and dance theater are put on stage.
Founded in 1922 by a writer, today the Renaissance Theater in Knesebeckstrasse 100 shows renowned actors in popular modern plays (S-train station Savigny-Platz, S3, U-train station Ernst-Reuter-Platz, U2). The building is worth visiting: The former association meeting hall was converted into a cinema, and in 1926 finally remodeled into a theater by Berlin's theater architect Oskar Kaufmann. The building is preserved in its original condition.
The Art Noveau Hebbel-Theater in Stresemannstrasse 29 in Kreuzberg was built in 1908 by the theater architect Oskar Kaufmann. Today the Hebbel-Theater also manages the theaters in Hallesche Ufer 32 and in Tempelhofer Ufer 10. You see modern experimental plays here, dance and musical theater (U-train station Hallesches Tor, U1, U6).
The Theater and the Komoedie am Kurfuerstendamm also were designed by Oskar Kaufmann (U-train station Kurfuerstendamm 206-209, U9). In 1922 the Theater am Kurfuerstendamm opened with "Ingeborg" by Curt Goetz. In 1924 the Komoedie opened with "The servant of Two Masters" by Goldoni. Foreign minister Stresemann and chancellor Marx were present. Max Reinhardt was the director. The following years the typical 1920's chorus line shows were put on stage. Today both theaters in Kuhdamm-Karee stage boulevard theater.
The Tribuene theater in Otto-Suhr-Allee 18 (U-train station Ernst-Reuter-Platz, U2, S-train station Savigny-Platz, S3) opened in 1919 with the first production of Ernst Toller's "The metamorphosis", artistically and politically ambitious with young actor Fritz Kortner as leading actor. Soon the Tribuene had to earn money by entertainment. This mix of boulevard comedy next to literary political acts proved successful up to today.
The Juedische Theaterbuehne Berlin - Bamah in Hohenzollerndamm 177 was founded in 2001 by Dan Lahov (U-train station Fehrbelliner Platz, U1, U2). The theater stages classical East Jewish plays, German Jewish playwrights and Israeli theater - for everybody interested in Jewish culture.
You find performances in English language at the Friends of the Italian Opera in Kreuzberg's Fidicinstrasse 40 (U-train station Platz der Luftbruecke, U6) - including co-productions with the English Theatre in Frankfurt.
A theater festival - Theatertreffen in May, and theater and dance performances from November to January are part of the yearly Berliner Festspiele.
You find lists of the large number of Berlin's stages in the daily papers or in the Internet.
You enjoy grand opera, ballett and concerts in Berlin's two opera houses. Opened in 1743, the representative building of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Unter den Linden 7, U-train stations Hausvogteistrasse or Friedrichstrasse, U2, U-train station Franzoesische Strasse, U6 , bus 100, 200) had been commissioned by King Friedrich II. The Deutsche Oper in Bismarckstrasse 35 (U-train station Deutsche Oper, U2, U-train station Bismarckstrasse, U7) used to be Charlottenburg's municipal opera founded in 1912. In the West part of divided Berlin the opera house was newly built - by Fritz Bornemann - and renamed German opera - competing with East Berlin's 'state opera' Unter den Linden.
Founded in 1972, "Opera for Everybody" is the motto of the Neukoellner Oper in Karl-Marx-Strasse 131-133: From experimental music, modern classical music, medieval spectacle, operetta and musical to grand opera (U-train station Karl-Marx-Strasse, U7, S-train station Neukoelln, S45, S46, bus 104).
The building of the Komische Oper in Behrenstrasse 55-57 was reopened in 1892 in Viennese Neo Baroque style as Theater Unter den Linden (U-train station Franzoesische Strasse, U6). From 1898 to 1933 the Metropol Theater used the building for chorus lines and operettas - starring Fritzi Massary, Richard Tauber and Max Pallenberg. In 1947 the reconstructed theater reopened as Komische Oper with "The Bat" by Johann Strauss. Viennese director Walter Felsenstein made the stage famous. Today in Komische Oper you still listen to musical theater and concerts by composers like Emmerich Kalman, Janacek, Haendel, Mozart, Benjamin Britten, Johann and Richard Strauss.
The Zeitgenoessische Oper Berlin gives guest performances on various stages with modern and vanguard music.
Berlin owns three great symphony orchestras. The Berliner Philharmoniker reside in the Kulturforum Philharmonie building designed by Hans Scharoun, their history goes back to the 19th century (Kulturforum, Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse 1, S- and U-train station Potsdamer Platz, S1, S2, S25, S26, U2, bus 200).
The Berliner Sinfonie-Orchester founded in East Berlin in 1952 has its seat in the "Konzerthaus": Once famous for its director Gustav Gruendgens, the theater at Gendarmenmarkt is a concert hall today (U-train station Franzoesische Strasse, U6).
Founded in West Berlin as the RIAS radio orchestra the Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin gives performances in changing concert halls.
The Berliner Festspiele organize Maerzmusik - a festival of new music in the month of - as the name indicates - March.
Famous writers have shaped Berlin's imaginary landscape since the enlightenment: Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Bettina and Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, Ludwig Boerne, Heinrich Heine, Heinrich von Kleist, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Theodor Fontane, Frank Wedekind, Carl Zuckmayer, Else Lasker-Schueler, Alfred Doeblin, Kurt Tucholsky, Erich Kaestner, Bertold Brecht, Anna Seghers ... up to 1000 publishing houses had their seat in Berlin in the 1920's.
Today a number of institutions continue Berlin's literary tradition.
The Akademie der Kuenste counted amongst its members Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Gottfried Herder, Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Gerhard Hauptmann, Alfred Doeblin, Bertold Brecht and Heinrich Boell. Today the venerable academy organises exhibitions, lectures, discussions and shows films in several locations.
The life and works of Bertold Brecht are the focus of the readings and cinema shows in the Literaturforum of the Brecht-Haus in Chausseestrasse 125 (U-train station Zinnowitzer Strasse, U6).
In a noble late 19th century Gruenderzeit mansion the Literaturhaus in Fasanenstrasse 23 hosts readings, exhibitions and discussions (S- and U-train station Zoologischer Garten, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2, U9, U-train station Uhlandstrasse, U1, U-train station Kurfuerstendamm, U9).
New blood gets a chance in Prenzlauer Berg in the Literaturwerkstatt Berlin of the Kulturbrauerei (U-train station Eberswalder Strasse, U2).
Founded in the 1960's by the Ford Foundation the Literary Colloquium arranges meetings of international and German writers. In their Wannsee villa readings and discussions take place (Am Sandwerder 5, Wannsee station, S1, S7 or regional train RE1 from Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse or Zoologischer Garten).
Each year in February internationally known artists and film directors come to Berlin for the Goldene Baer awards of the Berlinale. The big productions of the competition can be seen in the cinema at Potsdamer Platz (S- and U-train station Potsdamer Platz, S1, S2, S25, S26, U2, bus 200). Smaller productions are shown all over the city.
In cooperation with Hollywood, Berlin used to be and still is cinema city. When Berlin's Universum Film AG, abbreviated UFA, was founded in 1917, Ernst Lubitsch took part. In 1919, Robert Wiene directed the silent movie "Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari" in the Babelsberg film studios, followed in 1926 by Fritz Lang's "Metropolis", in 1927 by Walter Ruttmann's "Berlin, die Sinfonie einer Großstadt", in 1929 by "Menschen am Sonntag" created by Billy Wilder, Fred Zinnemann, Moritz Seeler, Edgar G. Ulmer, Robert and Curt Siodmak, in 1931 by Fritz Lang's "M - eine Stadt sucht einen Moerder" and Phil Jutzi's "Berlin Alexanderplatz". Max Ophuels, Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau and Douglas Sirk worked for the UFA. Josef von Sternberg traveled by ship from Hollywood across the Atlantic to direct the "Blaue Engel" with Marlene Dietrich.
Famous actors and directors moved from Berlin to Hollywood in the 1920's and beginning of the 1930's, when the National Socialists came to power most of them left Berlin. The UFA produced comedies with Hans Albers, Heinz Ruehmann and Zarah Leander. Erich Kaestner managed to bypass the official ban for a while to write the screenplay for the film "Muenchhausen" using a pseudonym.
Berlin was the scenery for Roberto Rosselini's "Germany Year Zero" in 1947. Wolfgang Staudte directed the first film of the newly founded DEFA in the Babelsberg of the Soviet occupied zone - "Murderers are Among Us" with Hildegard Knef. Billy Wilder briefly returned to Berlin for "A Foreign Affair" with Marlene Dietrich in 1948 and came again in 1961 before the wall was built for "One, Two, Three" with Lieselotte Pulver and Horst Buchholz. Martin Ritt filmed in 1956 the "Spy, Who Came In From the Cold" by John le Carre. In 1972 some of the exterior shots of the film "Cabaret" were made in West Berlin - the interior was supplied by the Bavaria Filmstudio.
Comparably new are "Lola Runs" by Tom Tykwer and, produced in the Babelsberg studios, "Sonnenallee" by Leander Hausmann - both films came to the cinemas in 1998. In 2003, the "back to the GDR" comedy "Good Bye Lenin" by Wolfgang Becker was a big success.
The Filmhaus and Film Museum Berlin in Potsdamer Platz (S- and U-train station, S1, S2, S25, S26, U2, bus 200) shows - apart from films - the estates of Marlene Dietrich, Fritz Lang and Heinz Ruehmann.
On the UFA site in the Filmpark Babelsberg you look behind the scenery - e.g. into the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, you visit a 'western' road, wash gold, watch a stuntshow or try out professional make up (Babelsberg station, S1, or regional train RE1 from Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Zoologischer Garten, then bus 602, 690, 698). Nearby the Potsdam Film Museum exhibits documents, brochures, costumes and photographs owned by Zarah Leander, Lilian Harvey and Hans Albers. The Museum takes you through Babelsberg film history including the films of the Nazi era, the emigration and the GDR DEFA. (Potsdam station, S1, or regional train RE1 from Ostbahnhof, Alexanderplatz, Friedrichstrasse, Zoologischer Garten)
Designed by Ernst Poelzig at the end of the 1920's, the Filmtheater Babylon at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz square shows - apart from a modern programme - films of the 1920's and 1930's. The Filmtheater Babylon is the only cinema in Berlin that has been preserved since the era of silent movies (U-train station Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, U2).
Today you can enjoy silent movies and live music, e.g. by the Babelsberg Filmorchester, in the Komische Oper (Behrenstrasse 55-57, U-train station Franzoesische Strasse, U6).
In the Cinema of the German Historical Museum in Zeughaus you see historical and modern films (S-train station Hackescher Markt, S3, S5, S75, S9).
In Prenzlauer Berg the Kino Blowup in Immanuelkirchstrasse 14 shows GDR DEFA-Films by Progress Filmverleih (Am Friedrichshain stop, Tram M4, from Alexanderplatz, S- and U-train station S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U2, U5, U8, bus 100, 200).
There is a cinema in every district - you find the programmes in the daily papers and in the Internet.
In summer Berlin's landmarks are the scenery for the open air cinema on Museums-Insel (S and U-train station Friedrichstrasse S1, S2, S25, S26, S3, S5, S7, S75, S9, U6, Hackescher Markt, S3, S5, S75, S9, Lustgarten stop, bus 100, 200), at Potsdamer Platz (S- and U-train station Potsdamer Platz, S1, S2, S25, S26, U2, bus 200) and at the Waldbuehne on the site of Berlin's Olympics in 1936 (S-train station Pichelsberg, S5, S75).
top of page <<
For Children & Parents