This history of the borough is best told by its architecture. In Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf you can find the delicate playfulness of the Rococo, turn-of-the-century town houses, the simple forms of the 1950s and the buildings of today.
The revival of the City West
The area around Kurfürstendamm has been reinvented as the City West. After reunification, things went quiet in what was the centre of West Berlin. Restaurants, clubs and boutiques moved to the east, and many institutions closed or fell dormant. But for some time now, a fresh breeze has been blowing through the City West. With the new buildings at the Zoo, the whole neighbourhood is being transformed. The Bikini Haus and Zoo Palast have added a new dimension. Both buildings date from the 1950, but have recently been renovated and restored to their former glory.
One indication of the revival of this district was when the fashionable photo gallery c/o Berlin moved into the Amerikahaus – here too, the casual elegance of the 1960s architecture combines perfectly with contemporary aesthetics. The Gedächtniskirche has also just been renovated. Take a look inside the impressive church building with its translucent blue glass blocks.
Schloss Charlottenburg reflects the glory of past times. Stroll through the magical Rococo galleries and elegant suites of rooms. Walk through the large park where you will discover summer houses and a mausoleum. Two buildings flank the entrance to Schlossstraße with their 19th-century architecture. On the east, the Stülerbau houses the fascinating Scharf-Gerstenberg collection of Surrealist paintings. On the other side is the Museum Berggruen with works by Picasso, Klee and Matisse. Next-door, the Bröhan-Museum exhibits craft items and Art Nouveau painting. You can explore the whole history of the borough at the Bezirksmuseum Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in the Villa Oppenheim.
Architecture in Westend
A witness to the dark side of Berlin’s history is the Olympiastadion, built by the Nazis for the 1936 Olympics. Following extensive renovation, it now boasts the latest technology for hosting football matches and major sporting events. You can go on a guided tour of the stadium – or go and watch Berlin’s top football team Hertha BSC. The history trail at the Olympiastadion has 45 panels telling you the story of the sports complex once known as the Reichssportfeld.
Further on towards Spandau there is a fascinating experiment in modern residential architecture. The simple façade of the Corbusierhaus, a high-rise block directly on the edge of the woods, embodies the bold, progressive mood of the post-war period.
And here’s another special tip:
Take a swim in the historical swimming baths of Stadtbad Charlottenburg on Schlüterstraße. The Art Nouveau Alte Halle is simply beautiful.
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