I was a bit underwhelmed the first ever time I set foot in Berlin. I thought the city lacked in “WOW” factor and was sprawling too much and missing some form of a focal point. Some may beg to differ, but this was my first impression. But here’s the thing. Correlating my relationship to Berlin to a romantic one (and I think it very much is), since I have been doing a ton of dating since I’ve been here and come to see differences between exploding flamboyant things that crash and burn in seconds and slow burners that surprise you over time and make you grow fonder. Berlin is a total slow burner. It may not impress you immediately, but give it time and patience, and it’ll start to grow on you until you just can’t get enough of it and start seeing beauty at every corner.
This year my third Berlinniversary. To commemorate, I’d like to share with you the best photo spots in the city. Some well known, some not so much, a little for all tastes. I hope it will let you see the beauty of the German capital faster than I did. Urban exploration in Berlin is an endless topic.
The best photos spots in Berlin
Berlin Central station is a modern party of curved lines and amazing light and is big enough that you’ll easily find an empty platform to snap a few shots without any train or passenger in sight. Located on the site of the former Lehrter Station which was badly damaged during WWII and ultimately shut down and demolished with the railways to West Berlin under the control of East Germany, Berlin Hauptbahnhof has only been opened for over a decade after being under construction for about as long. Just as with almost anything in Berlin, its history is definitely worth a read.
A little climbing is required here but you’ll be rewarded with a super cool photo op at this oddly shaped venue in Kreuzberg. When it’s not acting as one of the coolest backgrounds in town, circus tent shaped Tempodrom is a concert venue. There is also a really neat spa called Liquidrom inside that features a large saltwater pool under a dome with underground speakers. DJ’s are often featured here. Tempodrom is inside and out 100% worth a visit.
One of the most beautiful squares in Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt is a great place for a stroll with so many photo opportunities. House to three impressive buildings: the German and the French Cathedral as well as Schinkel’s Konzerthaus, it is definitely on the touristy side, but totally worth a visit. There are markets throughout the year (most notably the Christmas one), and an abundance of cafes and street concerts nearby. There’s also a skating rink during Christmas time.
Not even yet open at the time of writing, Futurium caught my attention for its bold, clean lines, sculptural shape and polka dot pavement. Even more interesting than its shape is its purpose: Futurium (meant to open in Spring 2019) is intended to be a museum for science, research and technology for shaping the future of Berlin. On the roof of the house, the Skywalk will offer not only a view of the numerous photovoltaic collector fields, but also a view over the Spree and the Chancellery. The Futurium is located right on the Spree, minutes from the Reichstag and Hauptbahnhof, making it an easy pit stop.
This easy to miss example of Brutalist architecture is hidden on a quiet street of Kreuzberg not far from Kottbusser Tor. I know postwar Modernism and Brutalist style buildings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they are a rare find in Germany, and this one is, in my view, a delight of functional and austere yet beautiful urban planning. Architect Arno Brandlhuber renovated the concrete monolith in the early 2000s and it is now home to König Galerie, a space for interdisciplinary and concept-oriented art.
House of Small Wonder
Now, this one is a bit of a gimmick and not so much of a secret, but I still find it very beautiful and worth a look. A café made famous for its instagrammable entrance, you say? How much more millennial can we get here, please? They must be doing something right with the food too as it is jammed pack at all time and more and more difficult to get that “insta-shot”, but I can’t vouch for it as I did that thing you do: I walked in, took a photo, and left. Sorry I used you, House of Small Wonder. You did cast this upon yourself. Maybe if you had more vegan breakfast options I would have stayed longer.
Another of many beautiful train stations in Berlin, it’s easy to see the beauty of the wooden passageway at the Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn station. Also located within the vicinity of the Reichstag, Hauptbahnhof, Futurium, Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus and other locations on my map, it is yet another photo spot that makes the walk along the Spree from Hauptbahnhof the perfect photo stroll.
Pack your wide angle lens for this one! Another already popular spot is the government building Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus. Also a recent construction (it was inaugurated in 2003), Paul-Löbe-Haus and Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus form an architectural unity over the Spree that is meant to symbolise the togetherness of East and West Germany. Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus’s construction itself sits right across the former wall. Together with the glass dome of the Reichstag, they constitute a set of fascinating architecture that is 100% worth a look.
All photos © Christian Naydenov
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