Some are immediately apparent, others are only noticeable at a second glance: Little oddities in the midst of everyday life, right in the middle of the city. Why did an Asian pavilion suddenly appear at Potsdamer Platz? Why do pink pipes run over every other street in Berlin? And what are these abandoned places that nobody seems to use anymore, but which are still a prominent feature of Berlin’s cityscape?
We have revealed them – Berlin’s mysteries. Because Berlin is always more than meets the eye ...
By the way, we have put together numerous other insider tips for Berlin.
Rabbits on Chausseestraße?
Have you ever noticed the golden rabbits hopping across Chausseestraße in Mitte? The approximately 50 brass rabbit plates are already 17 years old. They were placed on Berlin’s streets to remind us of the death strip between the East and West and, to be more precise, its inhabitants.
Because the no man’s land was actually full of life – thousands of rabbits lived on the strip, which was up to 100 metres wide in places, and they were essentially penned in when the Berlin Wall was constructed. For years they munched on the grass strip undisturbed, safely watched over by border guards and protected by high walls and barbed wire fences. In this ecological microcosm they multiplied so prolifically that they became a plague and their tunnels almost brought down the Wall. What followed were poisoning campaigns, withered grass and an order to shoot the rabbits. The dramatic story of the Wall rabbits is still remembered today. T
he Oscar-nominated documentary Rabbit à la Berlin (2009) also tells their story. And to this day, the golden plaques on the streets remind us how the Berlin Wall changed not only people's lives forever, but also the lives of these creatures too.
The missing building numbers
You probably only noticed it while shopping on Kurfürstendamm if you were looking for a specific house number: Some of the building numbers have disappeared: 1 to 10 and 77 to 89 are completely missing. Where did they go? 1 through to 10 fell victim when the street was renamed in the 1920s. However the fate of numbers 77 through 89 still remains a mystery.
Yoga at Berlin’s traffic lights
Sometimes we Berliners stand dreamily at the traffic lights, waiting for them to turn green and take a look around. This is the moment when the Street Yogi unexpectedly makes us smile. Usually the little man made of cork and kebab skewers takes a seat on street signs and shows us Hatha Yoga poses.
He was invented by the sports teacher Josef Foos. Today there are more than 1,000 Street Yogis in Berlin – and besides yoga they also play football, go climbing or do some knitting.
Pink pipes over Berlin’s streets
Sometimes we Berliners get a bit annoyed waiting for the traffic lights to turn green and take a look around. This time it’s not a Street Yogi that makes us smile, but rather something that makes us think. Huge pink, sometimes blue pipes hang over many streets. Why? They channel groundwater from construction sites into the Spree.
And since there are always construction sites somewhere in Berlin, the pink and blue pipes are very present in the cityscape. And by the way, the largest pink pipe is the TUB circulation channel at the TU Berlin. This pink pipe has even become an architectural highlight.
Who is that sitting in the Babylon cinema?
There he sits in the large theatre at the Babylon cinema, quite close to the front and in the middle of the row, happily puffing on his cigar. It is the legendary Berlin filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch, or to be more accurate, a statue of him.
In the nineties, the statue sat in Schöneberg’s Notausgang cinema, which was known for its screenings of screwball comedies and other old films and whose name still lights up the eyes of Berlin’s cinema enthusiasts today. After the cinema closed down, the statue moved to the Museum for Film and Television and watched the hustle and bustle of the Sony Center from out the window. Now it is back where it belongs – in the cinema.
And this unconventional building in Steglitz?
And what is the Beer Brush? A high-rise retro-futuristic building stands in the middle of Steglitz on the busy shopping street of Schlossstraße. When it opened in 1976 as the Steglitz tower restaurant, it was modern and trendy, today its best days are behind it. The 47-meter-high tower has housed restaurants and pubs over the years, hence the name Bierpinsel (beer brush). All the old tenants have long since left the building, and the reopening has been delayed. However, the formerly red tower got a colourful street art make-over in 2010.