NEUKÖLLN: A TRENDY HUB OF CONTRASTS
Home to one of the highest percentages of immigrants in Berlin, Neukölln is a neighborhood in flux that’s rapidly growing out of its proletarian roots. Brimming with hidden gems and dark corners alike, it’s a place where rents are rising as an increasing number of students, artists, musicians, and young professionals converges with established blue-collar workers and families from over 160 countries.
The densely populated northern sections of Neukölln contrast sharply with the district’s sleepy, suburban southern localities. In the past five years, the Reuterkiez/Kreuzkölln quarter of northern Neukölln - which is known for relatively affordable apartments in period buildings - has become a sought-after area for young people and artists (as well as a focal point for gentrification-related tensions). Located next to the repurposed green space at the now-defunct Tempelhof Airport, Schillerkiez is another fashionable northern Neukölln neighborhood with turn-of-the-century buildings centered around a leafy promenade. East of Karl-Marx-Allee in Rixdorf, the Böhmische Dorf is a historically-protected area with idyllic, village-like streets, modest 18th-century era homes, cobblestone courtyards, and gardens.
The Britz locality in central Neukölln is divided into two areas: Neu Britz and Großsiedlung Britz. A freeway tunnel runs under Neu Britz, which is mostly made up of large-scale housing developments but is also the site of the so-called Ideal-Siedlung, an attractive residential area combining row houses and 3-story apartment buildings with gardens. Großsiedlung Britz contains the UNESCO World Heritage Hufeisensiedlung, a massive, horseshoe-shaped residence with a network of row houses and single-family homes. The Britzer Garden and the Gutspark Britz are scenic parks that draw visitors from all over the city.
Quiet, single-family dwellings and garden colonies dominate the southern localities of Buckow and Rudow. Buckow also has high number of new multi-family real estate developments, including the architecture award-winning Parksiedlung Spruch. Because of its proximity to the freeway and to the future Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, Rudow is a less desirable district, though new building projects like the Rudower Felder - a series of modern apartment buildings surrounded by parks -- and the Rudow Garden City are attracting young families seeking budget-friendly housing in tranquil surrounds.
The Rollbergsiedlung and the High-Deck Siedlung in the north and the Gropiusstadt neighborhood in the south are all characterized by high-rise buildings from the 1960s and 1970s with a large percentage of low-income residents.
One of the most diverse places to shop in Berlin, Neukölln boasts specialty stores selling products from India, the Middle East, and Africa along with mainstream malls like Neukölln Arcaden, the Kindl-Boulevard Passage, and the Gropiusstadt Passagen. The Nowkoelln Flea Market showcases work by upcoming artists and designers, while the Turkish Market on Maybachufer offers everything from fresh produce to fabric to Middle Eastern snacks and African street food at bargain prices. Every Saturday, the church in Schillerkiez's Herrfurthplatz organizes a farmers market with fruit and vegetables, meats, cheeses and seafood from local producers. For vintage enthusiasts, there are shops like Let Them Eat Cake (a trendy boutique with a thoughtful selection of timeless fashions) and Fantasiakulisse (a funky shop with a singular collection of antique movie and theater props).
Despite its gritty reputation, Neukölln has plenty of green spaces -- like Körnerpark, Volkspark Hasenheide and Rudower Fließ -- where you can escape the urban hustle and bustle. The tree-lined trails along the Landwehr Canal are also a lovely place to catch your breath. Swimmers and architecture fans will appreciate Stadtbad Neukölln, an Art Nouveau-style public pool and sauna covered with stunning mosaic-lined domes. The Neuköllner Oper and Heimathafen Neukölln stage innovative theater performances, and movie buffs frequent the Kulturverein Kinski for screenings of rare films. Both the Museum Neukölln and the Schloss Britz feature exhibits exploring the history and evolution of the neighborhood. Galleries like Holz Kohlen Koks and Cell 63 host a mix of multimedia and traditional installations, though most art galleries operate underground, publicizing exhibitions on short notice via social media. The annual “48 Hours Neukölln” art festival invites visitors to explore the dozens of lesser-known galleries throughout the neighborhood.
Thanks to the recent influx of freelancers and creatives, there is no shortage of style-conscious, artist-friendly cafes: Pappalreihe, Home, Isla Coffee, Populus Coffee, and Gordon Cafe & Records are especially popular with the local coffee-loving crowd. Besides its multitude of fast-casual spots serving excellent Turkish, Arabic, and African food, Neukölln has a restaurant culture that’s more hipster than high-end, though you will find Michelin-recommended spots like eins44, where the menu focuses on seasonal modern German food. Gutshof Britz by chef Matthias Buchholz specializes in traditional regional cuisine, while Sauvage is the only restaurant in the city that offers a 100% organic paleo menu.
Neukölln has an excellent public transportation infrastructure, including the S-Bahn ring and the U7 and U8 lines, as well as numerous buses with quick connections to the city center.
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Weserstraße (Neukölln) by Nicor (own work) CC BY 3.0; Rixdorf (Neukölln) by -jkb- (own work) CC BY 2.5; Richardplatz (Rixdorf) by Bodo Kubrak (own work) CC BY-SA 4.0; Onkel-Bräsig-Straße (Britz) by Rosakoalaglitzereinhorn (own work) CC BY-SA 3.0; Hufeisensiedlung (Britz) by Sansculotte (own work) CC BY-SA 3.0; Leinestraße (Neukölln) by Lienhard Schulz (own work) CC BY-SA 3.0; Kiehlufer-Wildenbruchstraße (Neukölln) by Aude (own work) CC BY-SA 3.0; Hermannstrasse by Pudelek (Marcin Szala) (own work) CC BY-SA 3.0; Heideläuferweg (Buchow) by Dirk Kobow (own work) CC BY 3.0; Alt-Rudow by Fridolin freudenfett (own work) CC BY-SA 4.0; Radewiesenweg (Rudow) by Fridolin freudenfett (own work) CC BY-SA 4.0; Wutzkyallee (Gropiusstadt) by A Savin (own work) CC BY-SA 3.0; Schloss Britz by Frank Schubert (own work) CC BY-SA 4.0; Wildenbruch Bridge by Lienhard Schulz (own work) CC BY-SA 3.0; Hasenheide Park by 3m2 (own work) Public Domain