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Neukoelln, Sonnenallee
Straßenszene Sonnenallee Neukölln © visitBerlin, Foto: Dagmar Schwelle


Discovering history in Köllnische Heide by bike

There's now an idyllic cycling path running along the former course of the Berlin Wall in Köllnische Heide. It runs from Kiefholzstraße in the north to the Britz Canal in the south, crossing Sonnenallee along the way. Sonnenallee has become famous across Germany thanks to the 1999 comedy film of the same name directed by Leander Haussmann. The film, sometimes known as "Sun Alley" in English, tells about the life of young people in East Germany sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. Although the real Sonnenallee looks different than shown in the movie, the street was actually once divided by the Berlin Wall. It divided the part of Sonnenallee in Neukölln from that lying to the east in the Baumschulenweg neighbourhood. The western section became a modern, car-friendly suburban settlement in the 70s and 80s, while the eastern section slowly decayed. Circumstances have since changed: Today, many of the older buildings have been handsomely renovated, while the former flagship estates in Neukölln are rife with social tensions. Sonnenallee was also a border crossing for Berliners during the years of division. A monument by artist Heike Ponwitz features telescopes to remind us of the ubiquitous surveillance in the former border area.