The old Berlin
The Nikolai quarter, known to Berliners as the Nikolaiviertel, is the oldest residential area of Berlin. With its mediaeval lanes and numerous restaurants and bars, it is one of the favourite destinations for visitors to Berlin.
In the Middle Ages, a trade route went through this area. Artisans and merchants settled at the junction of river and road. Circa 1200, the St. Nicholas church was built, a late Romanesque stone basilica. The church developed round a settlement with two main areas: Berlin, which was a somewhat larger settlement locate east of the river Spree and Colln, which was situated directly across from Berlin on the western shore.
Until the Second World War, the district was characterised by inns, stores, farms and small businesses. Artists such as Kleist, Hauptmann, Ibsen, Casanova, Strindberg or Lessing either lived or stayed here. The area, however, was largely destroyed by bombing in 1944 and for a long time it laid in ruins.
Only between 1981 and 1987, in the run-up to the 750th anniversary of Berlin, did reconstruc-tion work begin. The landscape of ruins was rebuilt by the architect Günter Stahn. Based on historical models. the houses and streets were recreated as accurately as possible, so that the illusion exists that one is actually visiting a piece of old Berlin.
The main attractions, in addition to the St. Nicholas church, include the Ephraim Palace, a masterpiece of palace architecture of the 18th century Berlin. Equally beautiful is the Baroque style Knoblauch house built in 1760, which offers insight into world of the upper middle class world through its rooms and valuable furniture.
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