Until the mid-eighteenth century, Berlin was rather a small town, far removed in size and importance from metropolises such as Paris, London or Vienna. When Peter the Great founded Saint Petersburg in 1703, Prussia too realized that it needed to turn this small town and the villages clustered around it into a prestigious imperial capital. And so Berlin was expanded, initially to the west. The result was Dorotheenstadt, although in the early years Dorotheenstadt was administratively not part of Berlin at all. The quarter was named for Dorothea, Electress of Brandenburg, who is today little known to the area’s inhabitants. Although Dorothea had a street in “her” quarter named for her, her husband Friedrich Wilhelm had more interest in a great boulevard. And so Berlin’s most famous street, Unter den Linden, was created. Today that street lies in the heart of the city.
So Dorotheenstadt comprises all of the land and buildings situated along Unter den Linden: the Brandenburg Gate, Pariser Platz, the great embassies, the Hotel Adlon, Humboldt University, and at its eastern end, the prestigious Bertelsmann Building – the reconstructed Alte Kommandantur. Two of the city’s three opera houses – the Komische Oper and the Berlin State Opera – are located on the boulevard. By contrast, the side streets to the left and right of Unter den Linden can be quieter – much quieter than you might think. These streets are home to politicians, media professionals and lobbyists, who gather daily in Cafe Einstein. In Dorotheenstadt, then, you are at the political heart of Germany. However – and very few people know this – Dorotheenstadt also comprises the fabled Friedrichstrasse railway station and the somber Führerbunker, which also has a museum dedicated to it. No other neighborhood has so much history packed into such a small area. And no other neighborhood has more flair. To live here is to have a prestigious and world-renowned address.
Nowhere else in Berlin is quite so rich in history: today, Dorotheenstadt is a unique jigsaw puzzle of different eras. But the new Berlin is here, too. The best shopping in the city and plenty of superb restaurants can be found around Friedrichstrasse.