We propose you a walk in the best “good bye lenin” style through the old corners of communist Berlin that are still alive! From its large and sumptuous cinemas, theaters or propaganda buildings or small bars and simple traffic signs, here we will show you the places you have to visit in Berlin to feel on the other side of the iron curtain!
This nice character was the protagonist of the DDR traffic lights for more than 40 years. The origins of the ampelmännchen date back to the 50s, when the first traffic lights dedicated exclusively to pedestrians began to be installed in Germany. Unlike its capitalist equivalent, this little man was somewhat shorter and plump, in addition to having a nice hat with wings, which gave a distinctive and charming touch. Over time this figure became the standard of East Berlin’s pedestrian traffic lights and was present in virtually every corner of the city.
With the German reunification in the 90s, many of the old traffic lights were exchanged for the more traditional and western models. But thanks to the resistance of the neighbors of the new unified berlin themselves, who had become fond of the old design, he ampelmännchen not only survived the replacement, but extended to other parts of the city.
Alexanderplatz was thought to be “Times Square” of East Berlin, this was the place to meet friends or go shopping in some of its large socialist department stores. It was also the place where they produced the glorious military parades, as well as where the great demonstrations against the regime took place.
The Berlin TV tower was the way the DDR wanted to show its potential to the world. Built in 1961, this modernist space design tower is still the tallest building in Germany and throughout Western Europe. If you want to visit it, we tell you that inside there is not only a viewpoint, but also a revolving restaurant, from which you get one of the best views of Berlin.
If you want to experience in your own flesh what it was like to live on the other side of the iron curtain, the DDR museum is your place to visit in Berlin. Here you can not only see how the aesthetics of houses, their streets and everyday objects were, but you can also see the “day to day” of their population. But if you think that this is a museum of photos and stained glass, you are totally wrong because in the DDR museum you will literally enter a Soviet apartment to see or use your furniture and even get on a mythical Trabant.
Little more real experiences exist in Berlin than climbing aboard a picturesque Trabant. Without air conditioning, or radio, or power windows or adjustable mirrors, the East German town car was not characterized precisely by its luxuries or its benefits, but it was one of the few cars to which its citizens could aspire. In the years of the German Democratic Republic, to acquire a Trabant you had to sign up for a list and wait up to 10 years or go to the black market, where its price was up to triple.
Today there are few who survived, however there is the option of getting on one and doing a Berlin safari. Who knows you may be lucky and you have a racing version, the Trabant 800 RS, which has a raging 65 horsepower!
Have you ever wondered what it was like to go for drinks in DDR times? Well we introduce you to W. Prassnik, a Berlin pub that is a true time capsule, where we will move to the times of DDR, a place where if you want to smoke a cigarette, you don’t even have to go outside. A bar where you can still live the great dilemma of all East Berliners, Vodka or beer? Good maybe better both!
Created in 1951 under the orbit of the Ministry of State Security in East Germany, better known as the “Stasi,” Hohenschönhausen was a place where you certainly didn’t want to spend a second. It is estimated that more than 20,000 people considered obstructive for the communist regime were imprisoned here and it is not known how many more passed through its 120 interrogation rooms. Today this prison is open to the public as a museum, where you can see interesting exhibits on how the state repressive apparatus worked and terror in the DDR.
In its golden times this was the main cinema in East Berlin, where the great DDR films were released. Built in the 60s, this cinema is a true communist architectural jewel. It is still in operation and in its only room premiere films are screened daily. Don’t miss visiting his grand lobby or having a drink in his cafeteria with huge panoramic windows.
As we know that you can also go sightseeing with your stomach, we recommend a stop by the Volkskammer, a place where you will experience the whole atmosphere and taste of an authentic Soviet restaurant. A corner of Berlin where the DDR still lives, not only in its propaganda pro-Soviet decoration, but also in its menu, which is based on the typical dishes of that time and the countries of the eastern block.
Located on a small side street in Potsdamer Platz, in the heart of Berlin, this old border watchtower is the only one that survived the more than 300 that were installed throughout the city. They were built next to the infamous Berlin wall in the 60s and in them the communist border guards mounted guards 24 hours a day. The tower is open to the public and if you want you can climb its small staircase to its highest part and get the same views as the DDR guards had.
If you want to soak up the most refined music of the DDR, don’t miss a tour of the impressive Funkhaus Nalepastraße building. This old radio transmission station has four large recording studios, which not only have a unique sound quality, but are also sumptuously decorated and will make you feel in a true palace of music.
Although today it is used by the world’s great labels for its musical productions, it has been decided to maintain its original style, both in its decoration and in its furniture, so visiting it is a true trip to the past.