Serene Tseng steps into pre­served, cen­turies- old apart­ments to ex­pe­ri­ence how the dif­fer­ent so­cial classes in Ber­lin lived in the past.

Where Berlin - - CONTENTS -

Step in­side cen­turiesold apart­ments for a glimpse of the past.

It's easy to for­get it, con­sid­er­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of Ber­lin’s 20th cen­tury, but the cap­i­tal is ac­tu­ally well over seven cen­turies old. Ber­lin saw rapid growth be­gin­ning in the late 18th cen­tury, and as a re­sult, many of its houses and apart­ments are win­dows to Ber­lin’s past.

Dur­ing the Bie­der­meier Era, the arts and the mid­dle class flour­ished. The Knoblauch­haus (www.stadt­mu­ was built dur­ing this time in 1761, and for nearly 170 years, it was the silk mer­chant Knoblauch fam­ily’s res­i­dence and com­mer­cial base. To­day, the re­stored Knoblauch­haus is one of the few re­main­ing houses from the 18th cen­tury, of­fer­ing a glimpse into the ev­ery­day lives of an up­per­mid­dle-class mer­chant fam­ily.

A cen­tury later, Fritz Heyn, an­other wealthy in­dus­tri­al­ist, had a house built for his fam­ily. Built in 1893, the Pankow res­i­dence had or­nately painted ceil­ings with elab­o­rate plas­ter mold­ing, ce­ramic heat­ing ovens, and a tiled bath­room, which was a lux­ury in the late 19th cen­tury. Af­ter Heyn’s death, his daugh­ters lived in the apart­ment un­til 1972, re­tain­ing most of the orig­i­nal in­te­rior and fur­nish­ings. Now, as part of the Mu­seum Pankow, the Heyn­straße

8 apart­ment ( T: 030 4814047) is an au­then­tic peek into the up­per mid­dle class dur­ing the turn of the 20th cen­tury.

On the other side of the coin was the work­ing class, and the apart­ment at Dunck­er­straße 77 in Pren­zlauer Berg de­picts the work­ing per­son’s do­mes­tic life. The apart­ment, also run by the Mu­seum Pankow, com­pares and con­trasts the liv­ing con­di­tions of the work­ing class who lived in the

Vorder­haus, built di­rectly fac­ing the street, and the Hin­ter­haus, apart­ments in the in­ner court­yards where the largest fam­i­lies lived. Call 030 4452321 to book a tour.

For those par­tial to the Neo-Gothic style, the apart­ment build­ing at Bleib­treustraße 15 (view­able from the out­side) is es­pe­cially evoca­tive of me­dieval splen­dor. The em­bel­lished wooden doors give way to a beau­ti­ful, Neo-Gothic foyer with tall stained glass win­dows, in­tri­cate met­al­work, a painted ceil­ing, and carved an­i­mals on the stair ban­is­ters. Built in 1902, this com­plex was de­signed to be one of Ber­lin’s most lux­u­ri­ous, and still re­mains vis­ually so.

A room of the Knoblauch­haus. In­set, be­low: Kitchen cor­ner at Knoblauch­haus.

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