Tour 37 - Cycling Tour of Friedrichshain
This tour begins at Landsberger Allee 26-32 in front of the NH Hotel Alexanderplatz. From the front of the hotel, head left. Take the second left onto Lichtenberger Straße. In two blocks, you will come to the Strausberger Platz roundabout.
The official place of execution in Berlin was located near Strausbergerplatz until 1704. Hans Kohlhase was executed here in 1540; this provided the historical model for Heinrich von Kleist's famous novella "Michael Kohlhaas". Almost completely destroyed in the Second World War, all of the present buildings date from the 1950s and were built in the style that came to be known as Socialist Classicism.
The most striking buildings in this style are the four gatehouses by architect Hermann Henselmann. The houses are 10 and 14 storeys high and are impressive examples of monumental architecture and design.
Take a ride around the roundabout and the "floating fountain" in the centre (unfortunately not accessible for pedestrians and cyclists) and retrace your route to the north on Lichtenberger Straße. Cross Platz der Vereinten Nationen.
Platz der Vereinten Nationen
The buildings at "United Nations Square" are further outstanding examples of socialist city planning dating from the time of the GDR. The redesigned square was officially opened in 1970. In addition to the high-rise tower buildings, the U-Block (also called the "boomerang"), the Green Block, the S-Block ("snake") and the Kaufhalle department store, a Lenin monument was also erected here.
The Lenin monument not only commemorated the Soviet leader, but also became a symbolic place in German history. The 19-metre high monument was dedicated on 19 April 1970 before 200,000 spectators. After reunification, the monument was demolished despite numerous public protests. Since 1994, a natural stone fountain symbolising the five inhabited continents has taken its place. Ride to the next corner and take a left onto Friedenstraße.
Ride for just over three blocks until you come to the church on the left-hand side. Erected in 1858 in neo-Gothic style, this church was severely damaged in the Second World War and rebuilt in 1957. The church is now a listed building. Head across the street and enter the Volkspark Friedrichshain.
This impressive "fairy-tale fountain" dates from 1913. Particularly beautiful are the numerous characters from Grimm's fairy tales that have been cut from stone. It's a great place to relax with or without children and play a game of "name that fairy-tale". Ride behind the fountain and head into the Friedrichshain park itself.
The park was created in 1846 in memory of Prussian King Friedrich II. It is 49 hectares in size. There are two "mountains" on site: these were two flak towers and bunkers erected here in 1941, which were blown up after the war and covered with rubble. The 78-metre high Großer Bunkerberg got its nickname of "Mont Klamott" during the time of the GDR.
With a little effort, you can ride up to the viewing platform on top of "Mont Klamott". In GDR times, this was one of those places where people could come to pine after life in the west, because the buildings in West Berlin were visible from this hill. The East German band 'Silly' dedicated a song and an album to Mont Klamott. Enjoy the ride as you speed down the "mountain".
Treat yourself to a break at Café Schönbrunn, with a beer garden, restaurant and kiosk window. Take a seat and enjoy some people-watching.
Leave the Volkspark Friedrichshain at the Danziger Straße entrance (on the far eastern end of the park) and take a right. Ride for three blocks, cross Landsberger Allee and continue straight ahead onto Petersburger Straße. Ride for a further four blocks and then halfway around Besarinplatz and then another block to the Frankfurter Tor. You're now back at Karl-Marx-Allee. Turn right.
At 1.8 kilometres, Karl-Marx-Allee is the longest monument in Germany. All of the buildings were built by the East German government in the 1950s in the style of Socialist Classicism. The street is unusually wide - and offers plenty of space for pedestrians. Ride for about 500 metres until you come to the Weberwiese U-Bahn station.
The Weberwiese ("Weavers' Meadow") was once home to dyers and weavers in the textile industry. The nine-story high-rise here was erected in 1952 and served as the template for the design of the entire Karl-Marx-Allee, which was intended to be a showplace for the socialist state. Ride to café Sybille at Karl-Marx-Allee 72 on the other side of the street.
Café Sybille was opened in 1953 as a "Milchtrinkhalle" ("milk bar"). It was rechristened with its present name in the 1960s. You can enjoy a nice cup of coffee here and take a look at the informative permanent exhibition about Karl-Marx-Allee. At the corner, take a left onto Koppenstraße.
Ride to the next corner and take a left onto Rüdersdorfer Straße. Ride for three blocks and take a left onto Wedekindstraße. Ride for two blocks, cross Gubener Straße and continue as the road curves onto Grünberger Straße.
Stay on Grünberger Straße. Cross Warschauer Straße, ride another long block until you come to Simon-Dach-Straße. This corner is the heart of Friedrichshain's nightlife scene. Enjoy cafés, restaurants, bars – and the overall hustle and bustle! Ride back to Warschauer Straße and take a right.
Ride for two long blocks on Warschauer Straße, cross Frankfurter Allee and go past Frankfurter Tor again and continue straight onto Petersburger Straße. At this point, you're retracing the route you started with. In about five long blocks, you'll be able to take a left back onto Landsberger Straße. At No. 26-32, you've reached your destination.