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Berliner Moderne

Industrial heritage in Berlin

Kabelwerk Oberspree
© visitBerlin, Foto: Steve Simon

Art in the factory hall, fashion shows in the cold store, theatre in the transformer station – all over the city, Berliners have brought former industrial heritage buildings back to life. The former factories, industrial complexes and industrial areas are what make Berlin so charming, as they have had a lasting effect on the cityscape – and still do to this day!

The period of industrialisation with its new technologies and challenges changed and shaped Berlin like no other city in Europe. It made Berlin a city of modernity with innovative novelties in transport, electricity and electrical engineering as well as architecture, art and lifestyle. Berlin became an "electropolis".

 

Industrial heritage today

Go on a journey of discovery and explore industrial heritage sites such as the Ullsteinhaus or the AEG turbine factory, which made architectural history. The rapid development of the city created the preconditions for the merger of the individual towns into a common city with a uniform infrastructure and administration. In 1920, the time came: Berlin became a city – in 2020 we are celebrating 100 years of Greater Berlin.

 

Kulturbrauerei

Industrial Heritage Cycling tour

Warm Light and cool Beer

During the period of industrialisation, not only factories and industrial buildings were built, but also numerous breweries to quench the workers' thirst for beer. Berliner Zentrum Industriekultur has created an exciting bike tour through Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg – passing power stations, transformer stations and breweries where today art is brewed instead of beer.

See bike tour

Metropolis of Modernism

Berlin was a relatively young city and, according to the understanding at the time, more like an American city than a European one with a long tradition and fortified structures. The city was open to people who wanted to come with their ideas and pioneering spirit and create something new. Within a short period of time, the city rose from an insignificant provincial capital to the metropolis of modernity.

Top events for Industrial Heritage

On interesting guided tours you can look behind the scenes and learn more about the history. In the here and now, the festivals and events are concentrated in the old factory halls and industrial buildings, which are now coming to life as original creative locations. I

In our comprehensive overview of industrial heritage events you will find numerous other exhibitions, guided tours, festivals and tours.

Factories, breweries and transformer stations

Where is the AEG turbine factory located? How do you get to the Schöneweide Industrial Museum and what is there to see there? On the map you will find the most important places of industrial heritage clearly marked out. We have also compiled a complete overview of industrial heritage with all the information you need for your visit as well as exciting background information.

Industrial Heritage sites

Discover the highlights

Borsigtor
AEG Turbine Factory, Huttenstraße
© Landesdenkmalamt Berlin, Foto: Wolfgang Bittner

AEG Turbine Factory

The AEG turbine factory is a turning point in architectural history: architect Peter Behrens and engineer Karl Bernhard were the first to apply stylistic elements to an industrial building. However, instead of just using stone and chisels, the …

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Borsigturm, Hallen am Borsigturm
© visitBerlin, Foto: Wolfgang Scholvien

Borsigturm

The Borsigturm with its expressive brick façade is still a landmark of industrial architecture to this day.

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Theatre and clubs: Kulturbrauerei in Berlin
© TLG-Immobilien

Kulturbrauerei

Once they brewed beer here – nowadays it’s culture, and in every variety. On the site of the Kulturbrauerei, vats and barrels have been replaced by a cinema, clubs, a museum and restaurants.

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MetaHaus
© Stefan Müller

MetaHaus

Steel skeleton construction with a red clinker facade. It is a typical example of Bewag's industrial architecture of the 1920s in Berlin.
An Extension was added in 1951-53. Shutdown in the 1980s. Between 1999 and 2001 the house was converted into a …

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Fassade des Verwaltungsgebäude Knorr-Bremse in Berlin
© visitBerlin, Foto: Steve Simon

Knorr-Bremse

The building complex on Neue Bahnhofstraße near the Ostkreuz S-Bahn station immediately catches your eye: the uniform brick façade with rhythmically arranged windows and the arches on the ground floor dominate the streetscape.

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Skyline of Berlin
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Rapid development

Technology and industry have shaped Berlin since the middle of the 19th century. The first areas in the city to be built included the factory site in Oranienburger Strasse, which was called Feuerland (land of fire) because of its smoking chimneys. Later on, the factories moved to extensive sites on the outskirts of the city, creating new challenges for transport and infrastructure. The waterways were crucial: ships transported goods and raw materials to and from the factories on the outskirts of the city.
Prussia's first railway and the world's first tram began operating in Berlin. An underground network was built, connecting homes and workplaces.

 

Tickets and offers

  • Hamburger-Bahnhof

    Day Ticket: Hamburger Bahnhof

    Museum for Contemporary Art Berlin

    from € 14.00

    • Friedrich Christian Flick Collection
    • collections & exhibitions on art from the 1960s to the present day
    • Artworks from Beuys, Kiefer, Rauschenberg, Twombly & Warhol

    Tickets & dates

  • Couple at the Museum of Natural History Berlin

    Day Ticket: Natural History Museum Berlin

    A Journey through the World of Science

    from € 8.00

    • Discover the fascinating world of science & research
    • Collections & Exhibitions for all ages
    • Explore the world of dinosaurs, birds & evolution

    Tickets & dates

From Industrial Heritage to Bauhaus

The industrial buildings created a new architectural landscape with trend-setting forms and materials. At the same time, new challenges were emerging with industrialisation: Workers lived in miserable conditions in dark, crowded apartments in rear houses.

The Bauhaus with its bright, modern apartments provided an answer to the difficult situation. In a period of only 14 years, the Bauhaus revolutionised the language of architecture, helped to create the foundations of modern functional design and dared to think in new ways.

Forced labour under National Socialism

The period of National Socialism cast a dark shadow on the historical development of German companies and industrial sites: During the Second World War, around 13 million people from all over Europe were forced to work in National Socialist Germany – not only in armaments factories and on construction sites, but also in all other German production facilities. In Berlin alone, more than 3,000 labour camps in which forced labourers had to live in collective accommodation under inhumane conditions have been identified so far. The Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre in Berlin Schöneweide, since 2019 a location on the Industrial Heritage Trail, holds exhibitions on this theme at the historical site and is dedicated to educational work.

Berlin Modernism in all its diversity

Berlin Modernism encompasses many aspects; it is architecture and design, but also art, creativity and a whole attitude to life - yesterday and today. Learn more about the diversity of Berlin Modernism, read exciting stories and backgrounds.

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