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Kreuzberg: The Bohemian heart of Berlin

The Schlesisches Tor subway station is depicted on the wall of a Kreuzberg house. The Berlin district is known for the graffiti that covers many buildings.

MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES

By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 21, 2015

After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the city was reunited, residents of West Berlin flocked to the east, where apartments and retail space were plentiful and comparatively cheap. Berlin’s hip and cool moved from the former West Berlin to newly cool districts in the east, and, over time, many of the trendy places in the west lost their allure.

Today, with the hip districts in the former East Berlin going upscale fashionable, the west’s Kreuzberg district is again the Bohemian, radical heart of Berlin — as it was before the fall of the Wall — full of graffiti, bars, clubs, galleries and shops.

Kreuzberg is an eclectic mix of lifestyles. It is home to a large immigrant population, mostly Turkish, along with students, punks and left-wing activists. Throw in artists, musicians and those who are none of the above and you have one of Berlin’s most interesting quarters, especially after the sun goes down.

Since the reunification of the city, Kreuzberg was administratively linked with Friedrichshain, across the Spree River in the former East, making for a large district. Some of Kreuzberg’s Boehme has leaked over the river, but its heart is from Moritzplatz east to the Spree and south to the Landwehrkanal. Running through it is Skalitzer Strasse with the elevated rail tracks above it.

Graffiti covers Kreuzberg. From colorful scribbles to house-size paintings, this is a place that takes its art seriously. Some have a message, others are just fun, but it is definitely not an area where walls remain white for long.

The drinking scene ranges from artsy cafes to cocktail bars, wine taverns to craft beer pubs.

With its cultural mix, Kreuzberg is a great place for ethnic food. Turkish, Tunisian, Indian, Thai and more are available, and most bars and restaurants stay open late.

Even American cuisine is represented. Kreuzberg’s “in” hamburger stand, the Burgermeister, is located in a former restroom facility under elevated rail tracks at the Schlesisches Tor stop.

abrams.mike@stripes.com

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