Discovering the medieval heart of Berlin

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Discovering the medieval heart of Berlin

Have you ever been to the medieval quarter in the German capital? There, we take you on a guided tour through its well-preserved alleyways, visiting authentic taverns and secret museums.

Discovering the medieval heart of Berlin

Nikolaiviertel – the city's medieval neighbourhood

On the banks of the River Spree, the reconstructed historic quarter of Berlin invites you to stroll along its winding alleyways, teeming with informal restaurants, traditional taverns and shops. Start your walk at the Nikolaikirche. The church of Saint Nicolas, in Romanesque style, was already in existence when the city was founded in the 13th century, but its two towers were added in 1877. A sense of grandeur sweeps over you as you look up at the tall ochre towers and lofty spires of this place steeped in history. It was here that the first freely elected parliament convened after reunification of the country which had been divided in two during the Cold War. In the church museum, you will find out about the city's troubled history during the last century. All around, neo-classical houses stand side by side with small clothes boutiques, perfume shops and elegant cafes popular with locals.

Nikolaikirche
Nikolaikirchplatz
10178 Berlin
Germany

Nikolaikirche Museum
Nikolaikirchplatz
10178 Berlin
Germany
+49 30 24002162
www.en.stadtmuseum.de/st-nicholas-church-museum

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Discovering the medieval heart of Berlin

Neo-classical facades and a Rococo palace

The hustle and bustle of this pedestrianised area with its narrower streets reminds you of the old Berlin with its neo-classical architecture and cheery traders. Close by is the Knoblauchhaus Museum, one of the few 18th-century residences in Berlin to have survived the bombing raids. Behind its elegant renovated facade, family documents tell you all about the social life, economy and architecture of this bygone age.

Make a detour to the Ephraim-Palais Museum, a lavish Rococo residence that belonged to the banker, Veitel Heine Ephraim. Outside, marvel at its Tuscan columns, pilasters and golden balcony railings, before stepping inside to admire the superb decor and design over three floors, created by the architect Friedrich Wilhelm Dieterichs. Suddenly, you come face to face with an extraordinary spiral staircase with a wrought iron balustrade of superlative finesse. Very impressive indeed! Culture vultures will be in their element when they discover that the museum is always holding temporary exhibitions on the art or history of the city. Not long ago, for example, the place was transformed into a large photo gallery depicting the lives of West Berliners in the 60s and 70s.

Knoblauchhaus Museum
Poststraße 23
10178 Berlin
Germany
+49 30 24002162
www.en.stadtmuseum.de/knoblauchhaus-museum

Ephraim-Palais Museum
Poststraße 16
10178 Berlin
Germany
+49 30 24002162
www.en.stadtmuseum.de/ephraim-palais-museum

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Discovering the medieval heart of Berlin

Heinrich Zille – Berlin's major artist

A bit further on, head to the Zille Museum. The soul of this iconic Berlin artist still seems to penetrate the Saint Nicolas quarter. His drawings, lithographs and photos take you back to the Berlin of the industrial expansion at the end of the 19th, beginning of the 20th centuries. Through his works, you are plunged into the ancient world of the Berlin middle classes. And the humour in some of the everyday scenes caricatured by the artist are sure to make you smile.

It is then time for a bit of merriment at the Zille-Destille (distillery). Take a seat at the wooden bar in this old pub and quench your thirst with a Berliner Moll, the local beer. For an authentic lunch, head to Zur Gerichtslaube with its medieval decor. Find a table under the vaulted ceilings or out on the terrace at this Berlin institution; you will be treated to traditional and seasonal fare, just like Zille would have known. Those with a big appetite will happily tuck in to the traditional and enormous Prussian dish of sauerkraut garnished with boiled pork and mashed potato. A feast to be sure!

When you have eaten your fill, take a peaceful stroll along Poststraße, the quarter's main street lined with the very best shops around. Have a look around Rumanli, an elegant antiques shop with many hidden treasures. You might pick up a vintage lamp, a piece of antique jewellery or a locally made Art Deco vase. If timepieces are your thing, then head to number 25. There, at Exclusive Wohnraumuhren, you will discover rare pocket watches and Art Nouveau clocks in bold designs. You will find the whole of Berlin from the last century spread out before your eyes.

Zille Museum
Propststraße 11
10178 Berlin
Germany
+49 30 246 32 500
zillemuseum-berlin.de

Zille-Destille
Propststraße 9
10178 Berlin
Germany
+49 30 242 52 47
zilledestille-nikolaiviertel.de/?lang=en

Zur Gerichtslaube
Poststraße 28
10178 Berlin
Germany
+49 30 241 56 98
www.gerichtslaube.de/?lang=en

Kunsthandel Rumanli
Poststraße 12
10178 Berlin
Germany
+49 30 75 52 85 08
www.kunsthandel-rumanli.de

Exclusive Wohnraumuhren
Poststraße 25
St Nicholas quarter - right in front of the church
10178 Berlin
Germany
+49 30 2415808
wohnraumuhren.de/en/