Go east! To visit in Berlin-Marzahn


Marzahn is from a tourist point of view as a hopeless case: ugly and boring. The district stands for plate structures, unemployment, lack of prospects. That has made DW-reporter Rosalie angel curious.

Once Europe’s largest housing estate, is one of Marzahn today, not just to the “Must-sees” in the capital. No question, Marzahn has a bad reputation. Perhaps wrongly? There are hidden treasures that could lure a Berlin-tourist of his pre-recorded paths?

After all, there are the grounds of the International garden exhibition (IGA) with its cable car and the views sculpture clouds grove. And there are the “gardens of the world”. From Japanese to Oriental garden, you can be surprised here distant worlds by strip – and as green as the grey infamous district but. In addition, the beautiful castle Biesdorf is still there. But all this does not interest me today. I want a plate pure.

Art in the plate

The first stop on my Route is an art project. And one that has been around since 1984. The “gallery M” is the Atelier and exhibition space of the New art initiative Marzahn-Hellersdorf.

It is located directly on the Marzahner Promenade, which leads to a swath through the housing estate. Created as a shopping and strolling area for the inhabitants. Today, it is no longer of this time. Many of the former shops are empty. Sought-after spaces for artists to use as studios. Or just as a gallery.

Art in Marzahn – gallery M

I’m at one of these hot summer days and is glad when I step into the cool gallery. Barely inside me, a gallery employee with a broad Smile on his face and offers me a glass of water. I take it gratefully, and am pleased to have this friendly gesture, which would be in an exhibition in Berlin-Mitte, only with difficulty conceivable.

Walking through the project room, I get into conversation with an artist. Some of your images are part of the exhibition. The concept of the art initiative is to create art of Marzahnern for Marzahner explains it to me.

“It’s really great that there is a place where people from our area together to make art and exhibit. Such a project shows that the bad reputation of Marzahn is unjustified. Our district is a lot of buildings more than just a series of anonymous Board“, the native Marzahnerin.

With a classic gallery that has nothing to do with it. But that is the Exciting part. Art is at the same time a municipal project. Here is the right place to get a feel for this to me strange district that is so far beyond the tourist track is.

The first Surprise succeeded in Marzahn. Also on the Promenade itself, there is an art to discover works, you just have to look carefully: the wall mosaics and typical ceramic reliefs from the DDR-time, the title as “work for the happiness of the people”.

Over the roofs of the city

After my gallery visit I’m curious to my next destination: The “Degewo-Skywalk”, a viewing platform on the roof of a building at the Marzahner Promenade. Several times a week, you can up free of charge along with a Guide. With the Elevator it goes first in the 23. Floor of the apartment block, and from there again through a door on the facade of the building attached to the head. Leads you to the platform, in 70 meters height. I’m not alone: we are together five of the ten participants.

In the heights of the Skywalk from Marzahn

Arrived at the top of the chat silenced my Mitbesucher for a short time, because the view of the high-rise settlements is so impressive, that we are amazed at all once together. Despite the relatively large distance to the Berlin city centre we can see the top of the TV tower and the Berliner Dom, and the Brandenburg Hinterland on the other side.

During the nearly hour-long stay on the roof, we know by our Guide, Markus Krause also a lot about the founding of the city in the 1970s. “The Whole thing was from the beginning a mammoth project. Starting in 1977, have been created here within the next ten years 60,000 apartments for 160,000 inhabitants. After the fall of many of the plate were torn off buildings, today, you build it partially, since there is more demand than supply.”

Marzahn is authentic

Quite different than it is today, was to Marzahn, to the times of the GDR as a “socialist” flagship project. For the time the apartments were spacious and luxurious, the people moved out of the at the time, had run-down district of Prenzlauer Berg and Marzahn.

“It’s attractive for potential residents was that since the opening of the first building complex, the entire infrastructure of the district was already in place,” says Markus Krause. “Kindergartens, schools, swimming pools and shopping facilities, large Parks and tree-lined avenues, it was from the beginning, all in one place.”

From the roof we see today, many of these public buildings stand empty. Fallen out of time. I have a hard time with it, this gigantic housing estate something Attractive wrest. But here I can learn a bit about the life-world of the GDR. It is probably in the whole city of Berlin a better place. Marzahn is in the unadorned, non-marketed and therefore authentic.

A village from another time

Almost like a Museum in the village of Alt-Marzahn

For many, the move to Marzahn meant that despite the grey plate and a moving “to the country”. As you walk around, built in the 1970s, the new residential complex aware of the historic villages of Biesdorf, Kaulsdorf, mahlsdorf and Alt-Marzahn, making the district, in spite of plate, a piece of building remained intact rural charm.

After I’ve seen from the platform of the Skywalk, already in the middle of the plate location, the village buildings of Alt-Marzahn, I decide after my climb to a walk through the historic Village. I feel on the streets of Old-Marzahns back is actually in a different time. Only the roofs of multi-storey residential complexes, which are seen from almost any point of view, destroy the Illusion.

A different side of Berlin

To draw a conclusion about Marzahn, reminds me of my day trip difficult. On the one hand, I’m positively surprised by the project space “gallery M” and the Skywalk, from the fact that Marzahn is actually more than just a dreary plate.

On the other hand, I have a hard time, my friends recommend a trip to the district without restriction. The large distance to the city center of Berlin, as well as the fact that I’ve seen during my entire stay not a single Café or Restaurant are clear drawbacks, particularly for Berlin visitors, who only spend a few days in the city.

However, if you want to experience a different side of Berlin – away from much-visited districts such as Mitte and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg – and who wants to deal with the everyday life in the GDR time really apart, I would recommend to go to Marzahn.