Some are immediately apparent, others are only visible upon second glance: the little oddities, right there in the midst of everyday life, right there in the middle of the city. For example, why is there suddenly an Asian pavilion on Potsdamer Platz? Why are there pink pipes on every other street in Berlin? And what are these little creatures made from wine corks and the massive plastic bears all over the city? We have found out the answers to these and other Berlin mysteries.
The Pavilion on Potsdamer Platz
One day, it just appeared, as if out of thin air, right where Potsdamer Platz and Tilla-Durieux-Park intersect: a small pavilion made of colourful wood. It was long surrounded by a construction fence that just gave the whole thing a rather dreary countenance. That’s now gone, fortunately. And now there’s an information plaque that reveals the secret: in November of last year, the Korean Cultural Center had set up a “Unification Pavilion” to promote its interest in the reunification of Korea. There were also free concerts at the pavilion over the summer. Kristin
Colourful bears in Berlin’s streets?
They can be found in dozens of different sizes all over the city and even purchased in many shops. But what do they mean? It all started with an exhibition of the first Buddy Bears in front of KaDeWe back in 2001. They were so popular that the bears have been making their way world since 2002. Their motto is tolerance: “We need to get to know better for better understanding, mutual confidence, and our lives together.” Many of the artist-designed bears have found a home in German embassies and other missions abroad, although most are still in Berlin. Interested in a Buddy Bear discovery tour? Then here is the right Berlin map for you! Juliane
Rabbits on Chausseestraße
I right the same bit of road time and again, day night, rain or shine. But it was only after several years of this that I was suddenly struck by the golden bunnies hopping across Chausseestraße in Mitte. Were they new? No: the 50 brass rabbit plates are already 17 years old and were placed on the streets of Berlin as a remind of the former death strip between East and West Berlin. The area between the two sides of the Berlin Wall was actually full of life. Some spots were sometimes hundreds of metres wide and were home to thousands of rabbits. They were left undisturbed for decades, watched over by border guards and protected by the high walls and barbed wire fences of the Wall. They multiplied so splendidly in this ecological microcosm relatively free of human interference that eventually became so overpopulated that their tunnels almost caused the Wall to fall. What followed was a regime of poison, withered grass, and a command to shoot the bunnies on sight. The dramatic story of these Berlin Wall rabbits is still remembered today. The Oscar-nominated documentary “Mauerhasen” (2009) tells their story. And to this day, the bronze plates on the streets recall that the Berlin Wall change the lives of more creatures than just the people of Berlin. Maxi
The Missing House Numbers
Even though I have walked up and down Kurfürstendamm countless times, I’ve only noticed it recently. Not only that buildings have even numbers on side of the street and odd on the other, something that seems odd to Germans moving to Berlin from other cities. No, it’s that numbers 1 to 10 and 77 to 89 are completely missing. Where’d they go? 1 to 10 were lost during a renumbering of the street back in the 1920s. The fate of numbers 77 to 89 remains an unsolved mystery. Kristin
Sometimes we Berliners will stand in a trance as we wait for a traffic light to go green and sometimes we take the opportunity to look around. It’s those latter moments that bring a smile to your face when you catch the street yogis out of the corner of your eye. Under most circumstances, these little men made of cork and kebab skewer live on the city’s street signs and shows us Hatha yoga poses. They were created by sports teacher Josef Foos. Today, there are more than 1,000 street yogis in Berlin and they have since branched out to football, climbing, and even knitting. Allyn
Pink tubes in the streets of Berlin
Sometimes we Berliners will stand in a trance as we wait for a traffic light to go green and sometimes we take the opportunity to look around. This time it’s not a street yogi that brings a smile to our face, but a phenomenon that makes us scratch our heads. Massive pink, but also blue pipes are hanging over many streets. What are these? They carry groundwater from construction sites to the River Spree. And since there are always construction sites in Berlin, the pink and blue tubes are a very common sight in the cityscape. And the largest pink pipe is actually the “TUB circulation channel” of TU Berlin. This pink pipe has even become an architectural highlight in its own right. Kristin
Berlin’s Newest Gem
A silver sparkling steel block, or so it seems. Granted, a particularly artful, even beautiful, and aesthetically pleasing block designed by world-famous architect Daniel Libeskind standing on Mitte’s Chausseestraße. But can this brand new building made of glass and gleaming tiles be environmentally friendly? Yes, it can. The latest architectural masterpiece in Berlin is the SAPPHIRE residential complex, clad with a specially developed titanium dioxide coating that cleans itself and creates oxygen from the rain and sun. If that sounds like a rather grand idea for the cities of the future, we hope that it really works and is effective. Maxi
Where does the elephant fountain at the Adlon come from?
In August, the legendary Hotel Adlon Kempinski reopened its lobby. And the following secret was revealed: the inspiration for this renovation was a gift from the Far East. This was received by the hotel almost one hundred years ago, when the Maharaja of Patiala gave the historic hotel an almost 4-metre high fountain of bronze and black rock in 1930. Like many other things in the city, the fountain was destroyed in 1945 and later rebuilt. The copy dates from 1997 and like the original contains 12 mighty elephants, water-spouting bronze frogs, and a large lotus flower. The fountain now stands in the lobby of the famous hotel on Unter den Linden and is complemented by other Far Eastern symbols like the lotus flower motifs over the bar. Maxi