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 GDR film premieres until 1990. A bit further and you get to Cafe Moskau, originally intended to showcase food from other socialist countries. 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?