Berlin/Mitte

Mitte, literally meaning "the middle" and being a contraction of Stadtmitte (city centre), contains the historical heart of Berlin and represents in many ways the real center of the city. It is here where you will find the vast majority of the most popular sights.

It is important to note that "Mitte" can refer both to a larger district (Bezirk) and its smaller component (Ortsteil), which incidentally used to be a district itself until 2001, when the administrative division of Berlin changed. In this guide, we focus on the smaller Ortsteil Mitte, while covering some of the points of interest located right beyond its borders that are convenient to include in your tour of Mitte.

For other Ortsteile contained within the present-day Bezirk Mitte, such as Tiergarten, Moabit or Wedding, see Berlin/City West.

Understand

Location of Ortsteil Mitte within Bezirk Mitte

Administrative division

Before the reunification of Germany, Mitte was a district of East Berlin and the place where the Berlin Wall was most prominent, running right through the historic fabric of the city. Following reunification, the old administrative division was kept for a decade, with the Mitte retaining its borders unchanged, but slowly merging with neighbouring districts of former West Berlin, Tiergarten and Wedding.

In 2001, the hitherto Mitte, Tiergarten and Wedding were all merged into a new district, called Bezirk Mitte. The former districts became localities (Ortsteile) of the Bezirk Mitte. This may lead to confusion, as both the Ortsteil and Bezirk are referred to as "Mitte" in the common parlance and many written texts. It is generally safer to assume that most Berliners would refer to "Mitte" as the Ortsteil and former district, which is smaller and more cohesive.

As the administrative divisions serve other functions that just helping travellers, this guide oversteps the boundaries of the Ortsteil Mitte and includes some neighbouring parts located in other Ortsteile of the Bezirk Mitte, including the Spreebogen or Potsdamer Platz areas.

Areas of Mitte

The old district Mitte as covered in this guide can be divided into several neighborhoods:

Get in

Mitte regained its position as the main transfer point as in June 2006 with the opening of the new main station (  Hauptbahnhof. ), a giant palace of glass and steel, which is at the border of Mitte and Tiergarten. Almost all short- and long-haul trains will arrive and depart from this station. Other main public transport stations are Friedrichstraße and Alexanderplatz.

S-Bahn station Hackescher Markt

S- and U-Bahn

Mitte is served by many S- and U-Bahn lines. The S1, S2 and S25 go from north (Oranienburg and Gesundbrunnen) to south (Potsdamer Platz and Schöneberg), the Stadtbahn (city S-Bahn, line 5, 7, and 75) goes from west (Charlottenburg) to east (Friedrichshain). They cross at Friedrichstraße. U-Bahn line 2 connects Mitte with Charlottenburg (west) and Prenzlauer Berg (northeast), the U-Bahn lines 6 and 8 go north to Wedding and south to Kreuzberg and Neukölln. The little U-Bahn line 55 from Hauptbahnhof to Brandenburger Tor.

The most important stations are:

Buses

One of the best, and most cost-effective, ways of exploring Berlin is riding one of Berlin's over 400 double-decker buses. You can enjoy great views, especially if you get to sit in the front, at just the cost of a bus ticket. There are two lines especially developed with tourists in mind - the 100 and 200 - as well as some MetroBus lines (replacing the tram system dismantled in West Berlin), both of which are generally operated using double-decker buses.

The buses generally operate every 10 minutes and you may rely on their punctuality except for extreme rush hours, but do mind diversions due to the frequent construction works in Berlin and check the current Fahrplan at bvg.de, the bus stops and on the bus. There is a good chance all important notices will be posted in English just as well. Do also note that the buses do not operate in the night (a separate, different night buses network does) and that there is no guarantee, just a very high chance, that you will get to ride a double-decker bus.

The cost of a day pass on all forms of Berlin transit within zones A and B (including the Tegel airport) is €6.70 (full tariff as of November 2013), which is less than most "hop-on" bus tours on offer and gives you much more flexibility and better access due to the multitude of lines and stops. The downside is that some lines get pretty crowded in rush hours, and obviously no buses are open-top.

See

Dorotheenstadt / Unter den Linden

Unter den Linden and Mitte as seen from Berliner Dom
The Brandenburg Gate

Friedrichstadt

Concert hall on the Gendarmenmarkt square
Deutscher Dom on Gendarmenmarkt - German Bundestag's historical exhibition
Checkpoint Charlie

At the border to Kreuzberg

Museumsinsel

Museumsinsel

Based on plans of the famous architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1822 and starting with construction from 1830 onwards, the island in the river Spree was developed as a Museum island by the Prussian emperors. There are five museums today on that island that mainly focus on archaeology and art of the 19th century. After the reunification, all museums were restored (or are being restored still) and brought back to life. The Museumsinsel (Museum Island) has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. – Area ticket Museum Island: €18, red. €9, young people up to the age of 18 free. – 3-day-museums-pass (55 museums): €24, red. €12

Pergamon Altar in Pergamon Museum,
closed from 2014 Sept. 28th til 2020
Old National Gallery on the Museum Island
Bode Museum with the Monbijoubrücke

Alexanderplatz / Alt-Berlin

The Fernsehturm

The square formerly hosting a cattle market (Ochsenplatz) was named after the Russian Tsar Alexander I when he visited in 1805. It rose to prominence in the 19th century following the construction of railway and gradually became the eastern focal point of Berlin. The bustling area around the square was immortalized by Alfred Döblin in a monumental novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929).

The Alexanderplatz area was largely destroyed during the Second World War and redeveloped by socialist city planners as the new centre of East Berlin. The vast expanses of open spaces and large, imposing examples of modern architecture provide for a very different feel than the part of Mitte located across the Spree. Incidentally, the areas directly southwest of modern-day Alexanderplatz were the places where the city of Berlin originates from (Alt-Berlin), and many remains of that can be found interspersed between the modern architecture of the quarter.

Two of the highest buildings in Berlin, the Fernsehturm and the Park Inn hotel, dominate today's Alexanderplatz, while historic buildings such as the Rotes Rathaus, Marienkirche and the Nikolaiviertel flank its sides.

Rotes Rathaus (Red town hall)
Church of St. Nicholas

Spreebogen / Regierungsviertel

Reichstag or Bundestag?

You may be confused to find the large building with the glass dome referred to by two different names. Reichstag (short for Reichstagsgebäude, Reichstag building) refers to the building itself, while Bundestag is the name of the legislative body that meets there – the German parliament. In everyday speech, Germans don't always make that distinction and sometimes refer to the building as Bundestag (even the U-Bahn stop is called that), but never the other way around: the last people to refer to the parliament as Reichstag were the nazis. As a visitor, feel free to use both terms for the building, you will be understood.

Outside of the Reichstag Dome
House of the Cultures of the World

Spandauer Vorstadt

New Synagogue

Potsdamer Platz / Kulturforum

Inside the Sony center, near Potsdamer Platz

The Potsdamer Platz and the neighbouring Leipziger Platz were important squares in pre-war Berlin, but were almost entirely razed during the Second World War, and in the aftermath they became a strip of no man's land separating East and West Berlin. To bring together the disjointed city, a large-scale project was initiated after the German reunification to fill in the empty space with large, impressive and modern buildings, housing corporate headquarters, commercial and entertainment venues and upscale apartments. Today, the Potsdamer Platz is a major draw for tourists and a lively hub of Berlin.

Immediately west off Potsdamer Platz begins the Kulturforum, an ensemble of buildings housing cultural institutions built on the outskirts of the former West Berlin, as most of the seats of former cultural institutions of Berlin remained in the East. The buildings of the Kulturforum represent the various bold styles of architecture of the 1950s and 1960s.

The border between Mitte and Tiergarten runs right across the Potsdamer Platz, and most of the buildings and institutions described here are actually in Tiergarten, but for the sake of making this guide more useful are described along with the others which fall in Mitte proper. For points of interest lying further West, see Berlin/City West.

Leipziger Platz and Potsdamer Platz
Kurturforum: Kammermusiksaal

Oranienburger Vorstadt

Private art galleries

As Berlin is a city of art, it is quite easy to find an art gallery on your way. They provide a nice opportunity to have a look at modern artists' work in a not so crowded environment for free. Some gallery streets in Mitte with more than about a dozen galleries are Auguststraße, Linienstraße, Torstraße, Brunnenstraße (all north of S-Bahn station Oranienburger Straße) and Zimmerstraße (U-Bahn station Kochstraße). A directory listing of all Mitte's art galleries can be found on The Art of Berlin: Complete Berlin Art Gallery Directory

Do

During summertime you can enjoy an open-air cinema in front of the Altes Museum, showing alternative movies (most of them in original language). It's very wise to buy tickets for the "Sommerkino" in the afternoon if you don't want to join a long queue at night with the chance of not getting a ticket.

Theater

Admiralspalast in the Friedrichstraße

Opera and Musicals

Musical Theater am Potsdamer Platz
Revue theatre Friedrichstadt-Palast

Other

Buy

Department stores and shopping centres

Galeries Lafayette, Friedrichstraße

Flea markets

Gifts and souvenirs

Record shops

Eat

Postdamer Platz / Friedrichstraße

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Hackescher Markt at the S-Bahnhof

Around Oranienburger Straße and Rosenthaler Platz

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Around Gendarmenmarkt

Lutter & Wegner at Gendarmenmarkt

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Cafés

Bars

Clubs

Sleep

Accommodation in Mitte is mostly catered for the backpacker or business traveller so the mid-range market is small. When you intend to travel for a trade fair, prices tend to rise fast but not as bad as in Frankfurt. During off-peak times, the splurge hotels offer substantials discounts that bring down the price to mid-range level (€120 per night is offered sometimes), so check carefully upfront for special offers.

Dorotheenstadt / Unter den Linden area

Splurge

Friedrichstadt/Leipziger Strasse area

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Alexanderplatz area

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Potsdamerplatz area

Budget

Splurge

Luisenstadt area

Mid-range

Splurge

North of Spree

Budget

Mid-range

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, March 28, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.