AS MUCH OF BERLIN AS YOU'RE LIKELY TO GET
Berlin's borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg used to be two separate boroughs, divided by the Berlin Wall. Geographically speaking, the site of the “360°” apartment complex marks the very centre of the city.
It is the smallest of Berlin's boroughs, and simultaneously the most popular one. Around 277,000 people call Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg their home. Day-to-day amenities are supplied by a vast number of stores large and small throughout the neighbourhood. Crèches, preschools and several elementary and secondary schools are within easy reach. The Spree River that runs through the centre of the borough used to be the dividing line, separating East from West Berlin. Unsurprisingly, the borough's landmark is Oberbaumbrücke, a listed river bridge with distinct turrets.
The Berlin Wall is commemorated right on the riverbank, where the longest section of the wall still standing was covered with original artwork by 118 artists from 21 different countries. The borough also boasts Europe's longest architectural landmark, Karl-Marx-Allee, an avenue lined by striking post-war architecture – and this, too, is just a ten-minute walk away. Mercedes-Benz Arena, an event venue seating 17,000 and opened in 2008, hosts exciting sporting events, spellbinding concerts, and other fascinating shows of every kind. It is the home stadium for the city's Eisbären ice hockey team.
The Ostbahnhof railway station is one of the busiest stations operated by Deutsche Bahn. Long-distance, regional and rapid-transit trains depart every minute to ensure swift and smooth mobility, while local transportation is provided by a number of bus lines. Just two stops west on the rapid transit line, and you are in the heart of downtown East Berlin around Alexanderplatz. Here, people like to congregate on the sprawling square around the well-known world clock. Clustered on and around the square are countless shopping venues, including malls and department stores – always an option for spending time out of the weather. The TV tower on Alexanderplatz is Germany's tallest structure at 368 metres. The revolving restaurant atop the TV tower has a phenomenal view across the city. A short walk will take you to the red brick edifice of City Hall, St. Mary's Church, Neptune fountain, and the quaint historic Nicolai quarter, the oldest settled area in Berlin. History-steeped buildings such as St. Nicolas Church or Ephraim Palais provide a glimpse of a bygone Berlin, just one of the city's many facets.
One train stop westward you will find the hugely popular area around Hackescher Markt with more than 150 restaurants, pubs and bars. The labyrinthine courtyard complex of Hackesche Höfe, the largest in Germany, is a major attraction for art and design aficionados while tourists of any sort just love the many quaint and quirky boutique stores here. Noteworthy among the night-time entertainment venues is the Varieté Chamäleon in one of the wings. A five-minute stroll through Montbijou-Park will take you from Hackescher Markt to Museum Island. Its cluster of museums is one of the most significant in the world, and it has been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1999. If you are interested in the splendid historic façades only, you may opt to view it from one of the pleasure boats on the Spree River.