Kottbusser Tor is the lively centre of the eastern part of Berlin’s district of Kreuzberg, formerly of West Berlin. It truly is a place that never sleeps and a first-time visitors coming out of the U-Bahn might think they have been magically transported into the middle of Istanbul. There is always something new to find and explore at Kotti.
Kreuzberg was one of the poorer districts of West Berlin. While the whole Berlin was (and to some extent still is) slowly rebuilding after the WWII, the area of SO36 (the old postal code for the eastern part of Kreuzberg) started being renovated in the 1970s and 80s. For fans of modern architecture, Kotti is a very exciting place, where the creativity of the architects and the necessity of affordable social housing clashes. One of the most prominent buildings is Neues Kreuzberger Zentrum, a 1970s housing estate dominating the northern part of the square and towering over Adalbertstrasse. The Interbau Exhibition in 1987 contributed with the motto of ‘careful urban renovation’ and the buildings created as a part of this project are the ‘Wohnregal’ – ‘the living shelf’ at Admiralstrasse 16 and the apartment buildings at Fraenkelufer.
Named after the former post code of this part of Kreuzberg, SO36 has been a part of Berlin’s club scene for more than thirty years and is home to Berlin’s punk rock movement. In his Berlin period, David Bowie often visited the club with Iggy Pop. Nowadays, SO36 organizes not only concerts, but also Balkan music parties, roller discos, flea markets and a lot of different sorts of events, while still staying true to its punk origins.
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Walking by the Landwehrkanal, the canal connected to the River Spree is a nice relaxing way to spend a sunny morning or afternoon. Whether you choose to take the Fraenkelufer street, walking past the Admiralbrücke, a popular meeting point and a hangout place for many street musicians, and taking a break at Böcklerpark; or Maybachufer in the other direction, to visit the Turkish market, which takes places every Tuesday and Friday, it’s always a nice way to spend your day off.
Right outside the northern entrance to the U-Bahnhof Kottbusser Tor, there is a vegetable and a fruit stand selling fresh goods almost 24/7. While some people might hesitate to buy possibly dirty food next to a busy crossroads, it is without doubt a nice representation of the community feeling present at Kotti.
Not that there aren’t any other great shawarmas or döner kebabs in Berlin, but Lebanese restaurant Maroush at Adalbertstrasse 93 is however one of the best the city has to offer. Besides this, they also offer a wide variety of sweets, vegetarian meals such as falafel or halloumi, fresh orange juice and strong black Arabic tea. The downside is that it’s always crowded. But who could be surprised by that?
The mysterious Neues Kreuzberger Zentrum is a true labyrinth, which holds many hidden pubs and bars such as the Paloma Bar and Monarch Bar. Finding them is not easy and usually involves unmarked doors, flights of stairs and long corridors, but isn’t that part of the adventure?
For a first time visitor of Berlin, this might be one of the most surprising things to experience. A nonstop flower shop. What if there’s a flower emergency at 3 a.m.? You can always visit the florist at Kotti.
Originally a shady café, Café Kotti developed into a friendly meeting point after changing owners. Nowadays it’s a multicultural meeting spot, both colorful and vibrant.