When American President John F. Kennedy proclaimed “Ich bin ein Berliner” back in 1963, shortly after the erection of the Berlin Wall, the German city was often viewed by many people as a soulless and colorless city.
It was deemed to be dark, fearsome, and somewhat mysterious and definitely wasn’t high on many tourists’ wish lists.
However, over the years the color has returned to this splendid destination and it’s still in the process of transformation half a century later.
(photo credit: ben124)
The city’s red light district has been one of the world’s most famous promiscuous destinations for decades and while some are sad to see it slowly disappear, it’s hard to argue with what’s being done with it. The shady characters and curbside hookers seem to be slowly fading into obscurity and the area is being returned to its former glory.
A visit to this district these days will find that numerous art galleries have sprung up in the Potsdamer Strasse area, the Potsdamer Platz, and Schoeneberg. There are over 20 attractive galleries to visit with some of them located in buildings dating back to the 1800s and in charming city courtyards.
The galleries are quite intimate and this is what attracts art lovers from all over the world to explore them.
The first gallery reportedly moved into the area back in 2006 with many visitors being surprised to stumble into one in this part of Berlin. However, the red light district always attracted thousands of curious onlookers and its closeness to the city’s New National Gallery as well Philharmonic concert hall also makes it an ideal tourist spot.
Berlin has always been a city which loves to transform and reinvent its forgotten areas and often utilizes them as centers for the art world.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise though since Berlin was known as a Bohemian wonder world during the time of the Weimar Republic, which lasted from about 1919 to 1933.
The city was one of the most sophisticated on the globe and the arts scene flourished.
Those were the days of Marlene Dietrich and many other influential arts-related people who spent quality time there, such as famous filmmaker Billy Wilder along with author Christopher Isherwood. In fact, Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin novel was the inspiration for the famous musical “Cabaret.” However, the area wasn’t always glitz and glamour.
The infamous Sportpalast was used numerous times to hold Nazi-era rallies in and it was in this venue in 1943 that Joseph Goebbels recited his famous ‘total war’ speech during World War II. During the war, Potsdamer Strasse was damaged badly by allied bombing raids. The city suffered after the war as well when the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 and separated it in two.
The odd pairing of musicians Iggy Pop and David Bowie put the Berlin arts scene back on the map during the 1970s when working with producer Brian Eno. Ironically, Eno returned to the city in 1990 to help U2 record their ‘Achtung Baby’ CD, which was inspired by German reunification.
But when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1991 many of the city’s best artists headed over to the city’s eastern side as it was seen as trendy and less expensive at the time. East Berlin isn’t really a cheaper option these days though and many artists have headed back to the western side.
The Potsdamer Strasse has benefitted the most, especially with the Philharmonic and New NationalGallery. Many people reside in the area at it has plenty to offer them. It’ll soon be discovered by those who are in town looking for the seedy red light district. They might still find some questionable activity going on in some areas of it.