This unusual square is the heart of the unusual city: Berlin’s Alexanderplatz. Millions of visitors make the Alex, as the locals call Germany’s largest city square, one of the biggest tourist attractions. There are many reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on this unique place: shopping opportunities, great food places, or just the special atmosphere. Here is all you need to know about Alexanderplatz:
Alexanderplatz is an important transportation hub, so many roads lead here. The train station of the same name connects all east and west bound S-Bahn lines, and even regional trains and some long-distance trains stop here. Hidden in the underground the subway lines U2, U5, and U8 connect you with the rest of the city. All around the square different tram lines have their stops, so do bus lines. If you prefer to bring your car, there are several car parks. From here you can reach most major sights by foot: Museum Island, Berlin Cathedral, Red City Hall, and GDR Museum are only minutes away. Even Brandenburg Gate is only a 25 minute stroll down the avenue. And the biggest (or rather: tallest) attraction is right next door anyway: the TV Tower. By the way: from Industriepalast Hostel it is only a 10 minute ride on the S-Bahn to Alexanderplatz.
What to see and do:
Most of all, Alexanderplatz is a real shopping paradise. Besides several department stores and international flagship stores there are two malls waiting for you: Alexa and Rathauspassagen. Fashion, electronics, and much more. When you feel like a break, climb the TV Tower (no worries, there are escalators) and enjoy the capital’s best lookout point. And, if you are daring enough, check out Menschen Museum. Feeling hungry? No problem, there’s an excellent choice of restaurants, coffee shops, and snack bars all around the square. Try some authentic Berlin street food or have a fancy dinner, whatever you prefer. And there is reason to stay after dark: trendy bars and famous night clubs – most notably the famous rooftop club Weekend – make sure that Alexanderplatz never sleeps.
From the 17th century on, the square, later named after Russian Emperor Alexander I who visited the place in 1805, had served as a military parade ground. It was often the scene of historic events, as in 1848 when during the German March Revolution ferocious fighting took place here. In the early 20th century huge department stores were erected and a notorious nightlife emerged. In the Roaring Twenties Alexanderplatz became a hotspot of urban life, as portrayed in Alfred Döblin’s famous novel Berlin Alexanderplatz (). After suffering great damage during the bombardments of WWII the GDR government had the entire square redesigned. The general structure hasn’t changed since then, so much of the original spirit remains. Most prominent feature of the square is a clock-like sculpture by artist Erich John called Urania-Weltzeituhr from the same period. Today it is a popular meeting point for both locals and travellers.
…and into the future:
Over the last 25 years numerous new buildings and shopping centres were built all around Alexanderplatz. But still, many spots remain empty and there is much space for new ideas and projects. For years the city has struggled to settle on a real (and realistic) master plan for the area. Right now it appears that the many gap sites as well as some crumbling concrete structures will be turned into fancy new buildings soon. In the long run a new city centre including 13 newly built skyscrapers is in the works, turning Alexanderplatz into a new “Downtown” Berlin. In any case, Alexanderplatz will be one of the busiest and most interesting places of the German capital for many years to come.
Don’t miss out on Alex!
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.