This is a district that has everything: from a lively restaurant and bar scene to wasteland; from perfectly renovated apartment blocks to mansion house and more than a few new and architecturally exciting buildings. This is rare even in a city as varied as Berlin. The Rosenthaler Vorstadt is not one of the larger districts in this part of town, however: It is merely perfectly situated.
To the south, the Rosenthaler Vorstadt ends at that part of Torstrasse with a reputation that has reached as far as New York. It is said that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have an apartment here, while half of the city’s IT scene gather at the St. Oberholz café on Rosenthaler Platz, a place where people spend less time talking and more time consulting their tablets and smartphones. Here you can see what the transformation in the worlds of media and work really looks like.
From Rosenthaler Platz, we pass the Weinbergspark and head diagonally down Kastanienallee, colloquially referred to as Castingallee, being the runway of the new urban bohème. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kastanienallee has been a flashpoint between the new and old Berlin and has its own peculiar charm in the form of the sort of cross-pollinating lifestyles that you might find in Haarlem in Amsterdam.
Behind Torstrasse to the north lies Mitte’s most desirable residential area, comprising Ackerstrasse, Gartenstrasse, Fehrbelliner Strasse, and Choriner Strasse, with private apartments in an exclusive complex offering a Berlin lifestyle in 130 apartments across nine separate buildings. It’s an ideal place to live, with the pulsating life of the city only a stone’s throw away.
The desirability continues. Further to the north lies Kollwitzplatz, the heart of Prenzlauer Berg with its extremely livable environment. The area offers bars, designer shops and an emphatically relaxed atmosphere, and, every Saturday, one of Berlin’s best known weekly markets. Tourists on extensive cycle tours taking in countless stops gather around the Water Tower, one of the city’s most famous residential buildings. There is a lot to see here, including hip Oderberger Strasse and the inviting Kulturbrauerei (literally: “culture brewery”) cultural complex. And there are yet more desirable areas. Above Danziger Strasse, the quarter ends at the area around Helmholzplatz, another collection of residential streets with perhaps a better and more avant-garde local scene. Accordingly, this area is home to individuals and families who do not fit the image of inhabitants of a prestigious area. Culture and joie de vivre characterize Rosenthaler Vorstadt – as they also did back in the GDR era.
But the Rosenthaler Vorstadt also comprises the Brunnenviertel quarter of Wedding, a part of the old West-Berlin that was developed rapidly, with an eye to function, and without too much thought. There are many things that people would do differently today. On the other hand, the old buildings that remain exude an air of laid-back living.
At the northern edge of the Rosenthaler Vorstadt stands empty land, located in the district of Pankow, where the old Nordbahnhof railway station once stood. The green park between the tracks has an exit in the south of the district, where a couple of undiscovered and beautifully restored rows of buildings can be found around the Jahn-Sportpark: a middle-class idyll that you would not expect to find here. It is one of the mysteries of Berlin how a place just around the corner can sometimes remain forever hidden.