Charlottenburg is a district in the western part of Berlin. It is not very old, by European standards, but that doesn’t stop it from having an “Old Town Path” with thirteen stops and a text panel (or sometimes two) at each stop.
The tenth stop on the Old Town Path is at the corner of Christstraße and Nehringstraße. The text panel in German and English explains that the first building in the Christstraße “can be traced back to 1872 and was a reaction to the acute housing shortage in Charlottenburg at that time.” Other buildings at this corner were built in the 1880s.
In 1972 this district was declared a development area, with the intention of demolishing the old buildings, but the tenants protested vigorously and as a result the old buildings were preserved and renovated, so that today the Christstraße “is a clear example of an old building quarter from the time of the founders.”
There are around fifty lakes in Berlin, depending on what you count as a lake, and this is one of them.
For some reason I used to think the Lietzensee was a man-made lake, but actually it is one of a chain of lakes that were gouged out by a glacier during the last Ice Age.
The Lietzensee is in Charlottenburg and has lots of buildings around it, but also a park that was designed in the years 1912 to 1920. The park covers about three-quarters of the shoreline, but the other quarter is not accessible because it is built up with buildings.
There is a 2.2-kilometer walking and jogging path going all around the park. This is route number 10 of the thirteen official routes that are listed by the city’s Department for Urban Development as being the “most appealing jogging and walking routes in the centre of Berlin”. They say that in devising these routes “special emphasis was placed on the city’s landmarks to render the tours interesting especially for tourists.”
This particular route seems to be quite popular because it is not far from Berlin’s exhibition centre, the International Congress Centre (ICC) and the Central Bus Station (ZOB). They say the “short lap around the lake is perfect for a quick break from work” — though actually the route doesn’t go all around the lake, just all around the park. It is completely level — no hills — and is open 24 hours a day, but is not illuminated at night.
This square, behind the Charlottenburg S-Bahn train station, was in the news for a while in the late 1960s because the politically-oriented hippy commune “Kommune 1” was located here, in an old apartment building on Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße by Stuttgarter Platz. This commune was well-known in Germany at the time for its provocative lifestyle and bizarre political protest actions, and it really became famous when the model and super-groupie Uschi Obermaier moved in.
Stuttgarter Platz also used to be one of Berlin’s more popular red-light districts, but starting in the 1970s residents of the area have formed citizens’ action groups to push for traffic calming and the establishment of parks and playgrounds. The German Railway System has also helped out by planting trees here in compensation for trees that they cut down in other parts of the country to build new high-speed railroad lines.
While cycling around Charlottenburg in July 2009 I stopped off at Stuttgarter Platz for a cup of coffee at one of the outdoor cafés, and found it a very pleasant place full of young families with well-behaved young children.
The historic Cecilien House, or what’s left of it after wartime destruction, now looks quite out of place among the surrounding nondescript buildings on the Otto-Suhr-Allee in Charlottenburg.
It was built from 1907 to 1909 in the then-popular “Youth Style” = Jugendstil or Art deco style, for an organization called the Patriotic Women’s Society of Charlottenburg.
Until the Second World War this building served as the headquarters of several charitable institutions of Charlottenburg, including a women’s clinic and birth house, a nursery school, a soup kitchen, the offices of the German Red Cross and a sanatorium with fifty beds.
The building was named after Crown Princess Cecilie (1886-1954), who in 1905 had married Crown Prince Wilhelm, the son of the then-reigning German Emperor Wilhelm II.
The whole complex was originally much larger, but after the Second World War only the facade and the first courtyard remained intact.
The Cecilien House is now used for commercial purposes, including an Asia Bistro on the ground floor, to the right of the gateway.
My photos in this post are from 2009. I revised the text in 2020.
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