More than three months ago I moved from Barcelona to Berlin driven by a new project and a certain feeling of nostalgia to return to Germany.
I landed in the district of Prenzlauer Berg, and it was not long before I discovered Kastanienallee, an avenue with a certain fame for being modern, expensive and quite touristic, to the point where it is actually known as the “Casting-Allee”, by certain critics in reference to the almost catwalk nature of the area; a place to see and be seen.
The Kastanienallee Avenue may well have changed in recent years and lost some of its expensive boutiques and former splendour, but it is still one of the most interesting streets in the Prenzlauer Berg.No slides are available.
The Kastanienallee begins at the crossroads of the avenues Pappelallee, Danziger Strasse, Eberswalder Strasse and Schönhauser Allee. The famous street ends at the Weinbergsweg to the south and the Pappelallee to the north. The street of Schwedter Strasse is the border between two neighbourhoods: Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte.
To reach Kastanienallee it is best to use the metro line U2 that stops at Eberswalder Straße, or the tram with M12.
In Berlin there are six other streets with the name Kastanienallee, so to avoid getting lost it is best to know exactly which district and where beforehand.
Shopping in the Kastanienallee
“Jung & Trendy” are the key words that get the hearts of most fashion lovers pumping when having to choose a shopping location. Its numerous shops are located in the same area and provide an offer of original clothing that is also accessible. There is also a selection of designer boutiques that are in a higher price range.
The following is a selection of shops to visit:
The pleasant owner of this small shop offers exciting items for women. There is a wonderful wide range of leather shoes and fantastic boots at reasonable prices.
Tel: 030 40505355
Glücklich am Park
This is one of my favourites. A mixture of cafeteria and clothes shop, located on the ground floor visitors can enjoy its home-made ice-cream and waffles whilst upstairs they can wander around its great selection of fashion.
Tel: 030 41725651
A super-shop with the name of this Berlin brand it has a motto of, “sexy, fresh, but comfortable”. I absolutely love their fantastic dresses and skirts. It is quite a fabulous spot and I can assure you will find something quite unique here.
Tel: 030 4403 7640
Are hats your thing? This shop has a selection of caps, fantastic hats and a huge variety for both men and women. We should make a habit of wearing them more… and Heimat Berlin is the very best choice.
Tel: 030 88948
Eating and entertainment
The Kastanienallee also has a number of spots where visitors will enjoy some really good cuisine, and although not a vast offer it has a decent mixture of tasty good food. There are many more cafeterias that are a good choice to take a rest and also calm your appetite.
This is a classic among the many spots that serve sausages with curry in Berlin and has been open since 1930 with an offer of every kind of sausage imaginable, as well as buletten (meat balls) and French fries. Warning: there is not one day without queues at the Konnopke.
Schönhauser Allee 44B
Currently on the square situated between Schönhauser Allee and Kastanienallee
Tel: 030 47009099
Everything here is prepared with the freshest salad and spices. The food is based on rice, bulgur wheat, potatoes and salad that can also be accompanied by chicken. It is all served with home-made sauces and is a great choice for vegetarians. For those with less appetite the delicious wraps are a great option.
This cafeteria has an obvious mentality as an open area or meeting place for political and cultural events. It is run by a cooperation and considered one of the most important left-wing organizations in Berlin. The best thing about the Morgenrot is the vegan-vegetarian buffet-breakfast, that also has a very particular outlook and charges somewhere between 5-9€, depending on what the individual can afford to pay.
There is obviously the option of paying more for those who want to……
Attractions and fun
The Kastanienallee is not home to any old or famous monuments but here are a few recommendations and tips for things to do:
Prater Biergarten (Beer Garden)
The Prater is the oldest Biergarten (Beer Garden) in Berlin and has been in exactly the same location since it opened back in 1837. A huge area, it is quite an experience in the summer and often hosts a number of different events. Its restaurant serves traditional tasty German cuisine all year round. There is also a popular theatre located here known as the Volksbühne.
Tel: 030 448568
The name refers to a number of courtyards between the two streets Oderberger and Kastanienallee, although they are not all currently open to the public. The largest area with a children’s play park can be accessed through the entrance at the Oderberger Straße, 19. The Hirschhof was created in 1982 when in the GDR it was a well-known meeting place for those opposing the regime and clandestine movements; to such an extent that the Stasi actually officially named it Hirschhof.
At the formerly occupied building at number 86 on Kastanienallee visitors will be drawn to the following sign: “Kapitalismus Normiert, Zerstört, Tötet” (“Capitalism normalizes, destroys, kills”). The courtyard behind the building is the location of the Tuntenhaus: a residential project for gays and lesbians.
The Lichtblick cinema offers a select and classic range of films in its small, cosy theatres. For old-school cinema fans this is an absolute must-see.
Tel: 030 44 05 81 79
The Berlin Rock Photo Gallery
This gallery belongs to the publishing house Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, specialized in images of music groups and displaying the photography of some of the most famous rock music photographers. Some images are also for sale.
Tel: 030 44336300
Opening times: Thursday-Sundays: 14.00 – 20.00.
Future of the Kastanienallee
In the last 30 years the Kastanienallee has been renovated, demolished, re-built and re-planned. There is currently a project that greatly concerns both the local inhabitants and shop owners. The Berlin Town Hall plans to convert this avenue into a main thoroughfare for the city’s traffic, with access to cars and widened pavement areas and car parking spaces.
Words can simply not describe just what this will do to the beautiful charm of the Kastanienallee. If the project goes ahead the calm days of pleasant strolls around its shops on the sunny avenue and in small cafes will be over.
Yet Berlin, would not be Berlin without certain initiative and the newly-formed civilian group STOPPT KASTANIENALLEE 21, has set out to stop the project, and has already managed to bring a halt to the initiation of the works. For more information see www.stoppt-k21.de (In German)
Although some of the shops on the Kastanienallee might seem a little expensive, there are also a whole number of charming traditional spots as well as modern boutiques and numerous pleasant cafeterias. It is a true joy to stroll along this wide avenue, with its terraces of benches and seats offering a rest to the crowds of people that flock to the area particularly during the summer months. My favourite spots are the Morgenrot with its fantastic breakfast-buffet, the Lichtblick cinema that takes you back in time, and the Glücklich am Park, with equal amounts of waffles and fashion up for grabs.
If any of you have discovered anything new… let me know!
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