Hill Of Change

With his­toric build­ings and popular parks, Pren­zlauer Berg pro­vides a stunning back­drop to a round of shop­ping. Annabelle Mal­lia set out with comfy shoes on and credit card in hand.


His­tor­i­cal Pren­zlauer Berg: a stunning back­drop to a round of shop­ping.

W hen the Wall came down, the world dis­cov­ered Pren­zlauer Berg. Lo­cated on the bor­der with for­mer West Ber­lin, this neigh­bor­hood is fairly cen­tral, de­cently green, and, sur­prise sur­prise, most of it had been spared from WWII air raids – and what hadn’t went to cre­ate the 90-m-high hill that is now the Volkspark. Sure, the build­ing fa­cades looked aban­doned and run-down at best, but the cost of living was so low and the old build­ings so charm­ing that artists, stu­dents, and squat­ters started mov­ing there. Leg­end has it that on any night you could knock on the door of a stranger who was hav­ing a party and join in.

Twenty-five years have passed, and th­ese stu­dents, artists, and squat­ters are now fully grown adults with of­fice jobs or art gal­leries. A few years ago, when they all started hav­ing kids, some jour­nal­ists be­gan re­fer­ring to Pren­zlauer Berg as “preg­nant hill.” Now those ba­bies are school­child­ren, 99% of the fa­cades have been ren­o­vated, and Pren­zlauer Berg has be­come a mix­ture of hip, trendy stores, pleas­ant cafés, and a Tower of Ba­bel of in­ter­na­tional lan­guages.

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