Dickes B. – Stadt oder Weltstadt?
Contrary to the suggestive nature of the title of this blog, it will in fact be written in English.
Berlin has always been a city that I love ever since I stepped foot in it after landing in Tegel with a school trip in 2006. Over the past 6 years I have been to Berlin numerous times and have been living here since September. Living here full time certainly gives a different impression of the city that coming for holiday doesn’t; albeit being on holiday is also a great way to discover the city. I was handed a copy of “Dein Bahnhof” at Zoologischer Garten on Tuesday and came across a blog entitled “Weltstadt Berlin” (global city) and it got me thinking about how Berlin is a Weltstadt.
To quote the short introduction of the article: “Die Hauptstadt boomt. Besonders augenscheinlich ist das beim Tourismus. Da spielt Berlin inzwischen in einer Liga mit London, Paris und New York.” (The capital city is booming. It is particularly apparent with tourism. There, Berlin is now playing in a league with London, Paris and New York). It is this particular line that is the inspiration for the blog.
There is no denying it, Berlin is a great capital city. The largest German city with 3.5 million inhabitants and also a Bundesstaat. There is something for everyone in Berlin. Having lived in London until I moved for university, it is clear that Berlin is a very different city compared to London. London and New York have populations of around 8 million with Paris having 2.2 million (all of these excluding greater/urban areas). London and New York are major financial and travel capitals of the world but Paris and Berlin still play extremely important roles. It doesn’t take much to see that Berlin is so different to any of these other three capital cities. Berlin’s tallest building is the Fernsehturm (television tower), and as magnificent as it is, all other capital cities have major skyscrapers and are built up differently to Berlin. London especially has a central area where everyone goes to work, but only those selective few who have the money actually live there. In Berlin it has been said, even in the 1930s when Christopher Isherwood was writing, that Berlin has no one-central area. It has Alexanderplatz and it has Zoologischer Garten. This idea is then developed 20 years later with the dividing of Berlin. The west had Zoologischer Garten and surrounding areas as their central part, and the East kept Alexanderplatz. Huge “Plattenbau” buildings can still be seen in Berlin near Alexanderplatz even though it is considered “central”. It is a completely different set up. Alexanderplatz and many other places in Berlin transform to huge markets for Oktoberfest, Weihnachten (Christmas) and Ostern (Easter). Perfection!
There are still areas of Berlin, e.g. in Mitte, Unter den Linden and Potsdamer Platz that have the commercial/financial feeling that capital cities have in certain areas. But in every corner of every street in Berlin, there could be a firm, a business; doctors can be hidden in the Hinterhöfe (backyards) of Berlin or within buildings where you need to be buzzed in to get to them. Such a different feeling. When in London or New York, there are huge buildings of office blocks where you find all financial firms and then on the local streets big, in your face buildings where you can find the shop you need.
Yet, Berlin is an ever increasingly popular city. The article states that in no other German city can you find as many bars, restaurants, cafés, top-class sport or theatres. I don’t deny this for a second. Berlin is a capital city of wonders in its own right. Yes, it is different from London, New York and Paris, but it is a capital city with huge importance and history. It has 969 bridges which beats Venice by a long shot (55 of which are on the Spree). Berlin is a cheap city, with the exception that there are places which are more expensive than others (as with all capital cities). It boasts flexible Sperrstunde (closing hour) and a great clubbing experience. What more could you want? How many other capital cities have songs dedicated to them? Marlene Dietrich – Ich hab’ noch einen Koffer in Berlin; Seeed “Dickes B” and Culcha Candela “Somma im Kiez”.
As a final word, Berlin is a great city. It is different but amazing in its own right. As the famous Berliner Pilsner saying goes “Berlin, du bist so wunderbar!” (“Berlin you are so wonderful!”)
If you want to read the article, turn to page 8 of the magazine, accessed through this link.