What you need to know about Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf
Locals in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf are happy to leave other districts to don the mantle of the party place. They’d rather head the rankings as a touch more elegant and traditionally stylish than elsewhere in Berlin – as you can tell from the side streets of impressive town houses around the Kurfürstendamm boulevard and the resplendent villas in the leafy Grunewald district. This architecture evokes a rich history, while the new buildings set harmoniously in between point the way to the borough’s future. In Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, discover the neighbourhoods of one of Berlin’s more laid-back boroughs!
The centre of City West: Kurfürstendamm boulevard
Kurfürstendamm – known as Ku’damm to the locals – is the acknowledged heart of the borough. During the Berlin Wall years, the Ku’damm was renowned as West Berlin’s vibrant centre with stores and shops, cinemas and discos. Once the Wall fell, things became quieter as the new and cutting-edge clubs and bars opened in former East Berlin, and many cinemas and traditional cafés and shops here had to close.
Over the last few years, though, City West area has enjoyed a renaissance. With the Bikini Haus mall and the Waldorf Astoria close by, the area around the Ku’damm has a sleek new look. Now newly stocked with glitzy outlets and restaurants, galleries and art venues, City West has been reborn as a trendy place to see and be seen, shop and indulge in the night-life. It is an attractive mix – enriched by the magic of the imposing façades and elaborate portals of the solidly upper-class houses in the side-streets around Ku’damm.
Exploring the urban countryside: Grunewald and the Olympic Stadium
The Grunewald district, with its magnificent mansions and residences in green suburbs, has always been an oasis of tranquillity. The famous Grunewald forest, lakes and River Havel landscape are great places for a day out. Teufelsberg hill – literally the “Devil's Mountain” – may well be the most famous outdoor location in the borough. The hill topped by the remains of an abandoned US listening station mixes scenic beauty with a kind of morbid charm. And as one of the highest places in Berlin, Teufelsberg hill is well worth the climb for the view across the city!
Not far away, the fans of Berlin’s Hertha football team thrill to the action when their team takes to the pitch in the famous Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadium). The nearby Waldbühne amphitheatre set in woodland offers a magical open-air venue for concerts by world stars as well as the legendary end-of-season concert by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The Olympic Stadium’s Glockenturm bell tower offers fantastic views of Berlin’s forests and green spaces. The renowned Funkturm radio tower, Berlin’s smaller version of the Eiffel Tower, also offers a bird’s eye view of the city and its environs. And down on the shores of the Wannsee lake, the Grunewaldturm tower has stunning views out across the countryside and lakes.
The royal delights of Charlottenburg Palace
The grounds of Charlottenburg Palace are home to Berlin’s most beautiful baroque garden. The palace, with its elegant suites of rooms, is also ranked as the largest and most attractive former royal palace in the city. Culture lovers will find many inspiring museums to visit in the direct vicinity, some located on the spreading Schloßstraße boulevard. Strolling down this street with its magnificent nineteenth-century residences, you could almost imagine you are in France!
Wilmersdorf: A new urban vibe
In the 1980s, the “Wilmersdorfer Witwen” (Wilmersdorf widows) in their furs and pearls were immortalised in the famous Berlin musical Linie 1 as epitomising a particular type of conservative West Berliner. Today, they are a rare species. Locals can now most likely be found sipping an Aperol Spritz at their favourite Italian trattoria or a coffee at a French-style bistro on the square at Fasanenplatz. The Haus der Berliner Festspiele cultural centre and the Bar jeder Vernunft small acts venue in a traditional Flemish ‘mirror tent’ have long gained an international reputation, attracting guests from across the globe.
In the quieter streets on the other side of busy Uhlandstraße, children enjoy the playground on Ludwigkirchplatz near the red-brick church and locals relax in the adjacent beer garden. This attractive square also has many bars and restaurants in the vicinity – and it’s not only the residents here who rate this as one of Berlin’s most beautiful districts. Even the New York Times has also fallen for the charm of Wilmersdorf, ranking Rüdesheimer Straße as one of Europe’s most beautiful streets and praising its relaxed and stylish character. In summer Wilmersdorf is also renowned for its wine festival on the green Rüdesheimer Platz square – transformed into a spacious urban terrace where families, friends and colleagues meet and greet.