SO36 (South-East36) is still “untamed“, compared with SW61 (South-West61), the bourgeouise part of Kreuzberg. We start at Kottbusser Tor (Cottbus Gate), a busy traffic hub and the name of a U1 (Berlin’s first underground line) station. The ambience reminds a little bit of a busy Mediterranean spot. Turkish market stalls beside arab restaurants and bistros, fashionable cafés and alternative clubs and bars surround the square. On your way you pass Gründerzeit (Founding period from 1860 on) tenements and the gigantic so-called New Kreuzberg Centre built in the 1970’s. On Oranienstraße (Orange Street) you have reached the heart of SO36 (The ancient post code of this neighbourhood). A high number of small independent shops selling a big variety of goods withstood the displacement attacks by large commercial chains. Restaurants and bars offering international cuisine contrast with rough typical Berlin pubs. Some of them became famous, such as „Zum Elefanten“or „The Red Harp“. The Municipal Institute for the Blind with it’s own “dim craft shop“ is represented here. The “Museum of Things“ exhibits houshold design industrially produced everywhere in Germany from 1900. Special shops for picky customers and cheap shops seduce one to spend money. Oranienstraße is the home of the legendary music club “SO36“. There’s so much to discover on this vibrant street! We continue our walk crossing Heinrich-Platz (Prince Heinrich Square), we pop into “Chocolate Factory“, pass Marianne’s Square to get to an old hospital complex. After the letter had been closed in 1970, it became the very first squat in Kreuzberg. Neighbouhood people fought successfully for a socio-cultural use of its neglected houses. Eventually they founded the Bethany Art Quarter, venue for artistic performances, also housing a kindergarden, social institutions, alternative healers, the municipal music school among others. Numerous abandoned barack style tenements from the 19th or the beginning of the 20th century had to be squatted in the 1970s/1980s, before city administraters and local politicians gave up their plans to knock all the houses down in order to build posh, profitable new ones. The “Treehouse at the Wall“, not far from the Bethany Art Quarter, tells another story: Once the Berlin Wall turned SO36 into an enclave. A newcomer from Anatolia had an idea how to upgrade his housing situation next to the Wall... One of the last stopps is Markethall IX, a source of quality food. Afterwards you can have a look at Görlitz Park, the biggest green refuge in Kreuzberg. A vast long-distance train station called Görlitz station was located here, but was destroyed in World War II. Today a couple of sports facilities, wide meadows for suntanning or barbeques, playgrounds for children and further leisure time amenities are assembled in this public park. Following the popular shopping and restaurant mile of Wiener Straße (Vienna Street) you end up at the contemporary Görlitz station (U1).
Meeting point: Skalitzer Straße 137 (Opposite the underground station “Kottbusser Tor“, line U1 and U8 / near REWE market)