Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

Back on track with my Berlin series this week after a few weeks detour to Western Australia! To fit into context you can find my previous Berlin posts here.

Although only a 5 minute walk from our hotel by the River Spree, we’d somehow managed to miss seeing the Nikolaiviertel (Nicholas Quarter) on our previous trip to Berlin in 2013 so we were keen to fit it in on our visit last April.

 

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Nikolaiviertel Berlin

 

Situated on the site of the oldest residential part of Berlin, renovations of this ancient area are still ongoing (like much of Berlin!) and so we couldn’t walk the most direct way along the river path. Our detour round the back streets took us past the sort of Β typical sights you come across in the city centre and helps to give Berlin its quirky character.

We passed through Marx-Engels Forum, a public park on Karl-Liebkneckt Strasse, a hark back to the days of the heroes of the DDR.

We wandered down a street alongside some of the large pink pipes, which we noticed everywhere we went. These intriguing objects are not some sort of modern art installation but, as we had learnt on an earlier walking tour, a necessary by-product of the ubiquitous building work. They are required to pump away the excessive ground water that otherwise would affect foundations. Berlin is apparently built on a swamp!

On a street corner leading into the Nikolaiviertel we saw the imposing red brick facade of the Berlin Rathaus. In front of it stood the signs promoting the building work currently in progress.

 

The old centre of Berlin originally grew up around the River Spree in the Middle Ages. What is now known as the Nikolaiviertel was situated on an important trade route at the junction of the meeting point of the road and river. The old medieval laneways and buildings were almost completely destroyed by the Allied bombing raids during the Second World War and for many years the quarter lay virtually in ruins. It was only reconstructed between 1981 and 1987 in the lead up to the 750th anniversary of Berlin’s founding. Plans were taken from historical models and the area recreated as accurately as possible. Today it is a thriving locality with its quaint medieval passages and small streets. Cafes and bars line the square leading from the river and there are many more shops and eateries hidden away in the surrounding streets. Naturally it is a popular spot especially for a Sunday stroll and the spring sunshine added to the appeal on the day we were there!

 

 

The imposing twin spires of the Nikolaikirche (St Nicholas’ Church) dominate the quarter. The foundation stone was laid early in the 13th century and the church built in the late Romanesque style. Even before its wartime destruction the church had been discontinued (in 1938) as a place of worship and given over to the government. It was subsequently used as a concert hall and an ecclesiastical museum. Rebuilt along with the rest of the neighbourhood in the 1980s, it is now administered by the Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin. Along with the Nikolaikirche, the Stadtmuseum also takes care of a couple of other buildings of historical interest in the Nikolaiviertel, the Ephraim-Palais and the Knoblauchhaus.

 

 

Walking around and absorbing history can be surprisingly tiring so with thoughts of lunch we turned down one of the quieter streets and came across Toute Sweet a pretty little cafe specialising in Dutch delicacies. Sitting at the tables by the side of the street, we had the place more or less to ourselves and a perfect view back to the impressive twin spires of the Nikolaikirche.

 

The Nikolaiviertel is well worth checking out. All being well by the time we go again the building works will be complete and it will possible to walk right along the banks of the River Spree to reach this charming old neighbourhood.

 

Copyright Β© 2017 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

14 thoughts on “Berlin – Sunday Stroll In The Nikolaiviertel

  1. restlessjo says:

    I’ve really never warmed to Berlin. I suspect it’s one of those places you actually have to visit to appreciate. This area does, however, look delightful. I’m keeping an open mind, Rosemay. Have a joyful weekend πŸ™‚ :)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s very true Jo – we studied a lot about Berlin in history and so had that interest too. It’s the sort of place that draws you in – there are so many different layers to it and each time we’ve gone we feel like there’s loads more to explore. It’s a very convivial lifestyle too, very green and nowhere near as big or overpowering as some cities of the world. The art and culture scene is amazing…and I could go on and on! Had a busy week and our younger granddaughter’s birthday yesterday so catching up on the blog now! Hope your week was a good one too – will be heading over your way soon to read up! Have a lovely weekend too! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. restlessjo says:

        Rick Stein was there on one of his long cooking weekends recently and it looked definitely quirky. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think I saw part of that show Jo – think he ended up having a meal cooked in an offbeat restaurant in an old prison or castle can’t remember which. Berlin is certainly quirky with an eclectic vibe! πŸ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Looks like a lovely area to stroll around Rosemary, narrow streets and alleys are just my thing! Love the name of the cafe as well, our son is practising Toot Sweets on his flute at the moment so that tune is running through my head a lot!! Those statues are incredible too – great picture!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it was a charming area and am so glad that it finally got restored as it is the heart of “Alt Berlin”! What a coincidence – yes I can imagine the tune running through your head! Funnily enough our younger daughter played the flute for years so I was well used to hearing her practice. She got up to a very good standard so I always love hearing a flute played. The statues were very interesting – huge in real life! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. fifi + hop says:

    Such interesting information, Rosemary..had no idea Berlin was built on a swamp either! I’ve been wanting to go check out the art scene there for a while now..some day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I had no idea before we visited either – apparently the groundwater levels are very high. The art scene is amazing if you ever get the chance to go there I’d highly recommend it! πŸ™‚

      Like

  4. Anabel Marsh says:

    I thought Marx and Engels had disappeared on our second visit. When we first visited (forget exactly, maybe 2004) that was a vast paved area. We were quite disoriented in 2012 till we realised it had been grassed over and the statues had been moved and faced the other way. Unless our memories were playing terrible tricks on us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How interesting Anabel – no am sure you’re right things are changed round in Berlin all the time!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. RuthsArc says:

    Lovely to be back in Berlin. Thanks for the trip, Rosemary.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Am glad you enjoyed it Ruth – love Berlin! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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