Starting at Alexanderplatz heading down towards Frankfurter Tor will take you along a boulevard of wedding cake-style buildings -exemplary of Soviet, Socialist Classicism- that were built to house spacious, luxurious apartments for the East German State apparatchiks.
The history behind this boulevard is fascinating and way more extensive than I have room for here. So I will leave that homework to you (seriously, you won’t regret it). What I will tell you here is that it is one of the few places left in this ever-changing city where you can still get a sense of that Berlin we’ve only read about.
Starting right after Schilling Strasse station you have the Kino International, which held film premieres of the GDR until 1990. A bit further and you get to Cafe Moskau, originally intended to showcase food from other socialist countries. Have a coffee at Cafe Sybille, which has been there for ages and is now a cafe museum dedicated to the history of the boulevard.
Notice the Blumen sign close to Weberwiese. The Briefmarken sign, the famous Karl Marx Buchhandlung (Does ‘The Lives of Others’ ring a bell?) and the Fleischwaren shop. All original.
Some of them house the same business, while others have morphed into something different but maintaining the original GDR flair. I could go on but, unfortunately, I don’t have enough space here.
What’s best?: The fact that many of the original residents are still here, living among international newcomers, Britons, Guatemalans, Spaniards, Mexicans, Irish…
Who would’ve thought?