Episode 13: Alexanderplatz

IMG_3883Location:

Alexanderplatz, 10178 Berlin

Facts:

  • Re-designed during the 1960’s
  • Public transportation hub
  • Largest urban square in Germany

Do you know Alex?

So Alex, formally known as Alexanderplatz, is one of Berlin’s central squares, located in the district of Mitte. If you are living in the city, you probably pass by it thousand times a week and definitely more often than you’d like to, be it underground, on your bike or on rails. And also if you are just a tourist or a visitor passing through: we enter every bet – you have been there. And that’s why this place is always crowded. Seriously.

Some quick general facts to start off: the square was initially laid out in the 17th century, so it is part of the city’s urban design since forever. But the architectural design today dates back to the 1960s, when it was re-designed after being heavily destroyed during the Second World War. And it is named after the Russian Tsar Alexander I.

Measured by the numbers of people frequenting it every day as well as by its overall fame: Alexanderplatz is one of the most popular places in Berlin. And we will tell you why this place is in fact special and cool and interesting; because probably some of you guys might wonder why it actually is supposed to be all that. And we get it: if you are standing on the middle of this huge square and take a look around, all you will see are concrete buildings, giant stores and food places like Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds and Burger King. It is actually not a very aesthetically pleasing place – it rather possesses a quite plain and practical 1960s charm. Additionally, it is super commercial and full of giant shops as well as a catastrophically ugly mall called ‘Alexa’.

But if you think about it, this is the first awesomeness of this place already. Already visually, Alexanderplatz is a drastic clash and fusion of two opposing ideologies that used to divide this city for decades. Today, Alexanderplatz is equally defined by its socialist architecture designed during the GDR times and by its commercial capitalist infrastructure.

Nowadays, this collision is omnipresent in the entire city and a reminder of the Berlin’s turbulent past. For decades, Berlin has been torn apart between the two leading globally competing political systems, and this left traces all around.
Did you catch some fire already? There is so much more to know about Alexanderplatz – so make sure to listen to our short talk below. You will definitely want to walk this talk. Do it today! Go walk this talk!

Photo and episode: Ute Linden

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