Kreuzberger Kiez-Welten (The hidden side of Kreuzberg)
This tour leaves Potsdamer Platz and goes through Kreuzberg via Tempelhof airport, then along to the East Side Gallery at the Ostbahnhof – this is a gallery of paintings on the former Wall. It’s about 12 miles. The GPS file shown above is in reverse for some unknown reason – I (and the guide book!) started the ride at Potsdamer Platz which is on the left of the map.
The forecast for today was very heavy showers but as I left my apartment the sky was blue and the sun shining. It was rather windy, however, which made for an amusing journey down Straße des 17 Juni as acorns were falling all around me – I reckon one of those would hurt if it hit me on the head but fortunately I was lucky and avoided that.
This tour started at Potsdamer Platz so I did my usual route there; not the shortest route (through the Tiergarten) but the main road route which goes past the Brandenburg Gate.
On the way, opposite the big memorial park of grey stelae for the holocaust, I looked out for (and finally found) the newest addition to that memorial. It’s on the other side of the road, set slightly back from the road in a small clearing in the park.
This is a memorial to the homosexual people who were killed by the Nazi regime. It’s 3.6m high and 1.9m wide and is a stone cube with a window. Through the window you can see a short film. I was very puzzled as to how they get into the memorial to service it or repair the film or anything – I couldn’t see a single access point. I can only assume that there’s a way in from underneath, or something.
I continued on along Stresemannstraße before turning right just past Schönebergstraße. Once again I passed this ruin and decided to photograph it.
Reading through the guidebook now I discover this is the very front of the old Anhalter Bahnhof railway station. It was a huge complex which had fallen into disuse in 1952, partly due to war damage but also because of its part in the story of the holocaust – from June 1942 trains left there to deport Jews to Theresienstadt (in the Czech Republic). The Jews were transported in two carriages which were attached to the third class carriages of regular trains. 116 trains transported around 9600 people.
Just behind the old Anhalter Bahnhof front is the Tempodrom, a sport place in the old Anhalter Bahnhof grounds.
I then found myself cycling over Gleisdreieck which is a U-Bahn station.
“The station’s name literally means “railway triangle” or wye in English and marks the spot of an earlier major train hub opened in 1902, where the three branches of the first Stammstrecke U-Bahn line from Zoologischer Garten, Potsdamer Platz and Warschauer Brücke met. A major accident at the triangle happened on September 26, 1908, when two trains collided. One car derailed and fell from the viaduct, killing 18 people and injuring 21. Upon another dangerous incident, the single level triangle from 1912 was rebuilt and replaced by the current two-level station. Since then there is no direct rail connection between the two lines at Gleisdreieck, only an intersection. Though in 1939 the North-South Tunnel was opened in close vicinity, there is no interchange to the S-Bahn system.”
However, what struck me when cycling over Gleisdreieck wasn’t the trains, it was the DC-3 hanging from a building.
Later on in the tour I found somewhere where a DC-3 was missing so perhaps it was this one!
Behind this, where the old railway tracks were, is a park “Gleiswildnis” which was very pleasant to cycle through. I came across a pair of windmills:
These are part of the Deutsches Technikmuseum of Berlin which is one of those museums you could spend days in and never get bored! I’ve visited it multiple times and there’s always new interesting stuff.
I pootled on for a while before arriving at Viktoriapark in Kreuzberg. I was rather impressed by this waterfall!
I should have known, however, that the author of this guide book would have me cycling up to the top. I’ve gone up every high place there is in Berlin, it seems, following the Berlin Erfahren routes!
A steep climb in my lowest gear got me up to the Tempelhofer Berg, a 66 metre high bit of Berlin which used to have vines grown on it (no longer). At the top of this is a 20 metre high “Kreuzbergdenkmal”, a memorial, from which the waterfall starts. There’s a good view from the top.
Looking down at the waterfall and Alfie the trike:
From here a very quick descent led me to the former Schultheiss Brauerei, an old brewery (the beer is still brewed today but clearly elsewhere) which is being converted into oh-so-posh apartments. The cobbled streets and periodic flights of steps made this a pain in the neck to cycle round.
Now I found myself at Tempelhof Airport again, which of course I had been round a few days ago, so I whizzed down Columbiadamm to get to the next point of interest (which happened to be a mosque). On the way my attention was taken by this large sign.
Thing is, there was no DC-3 there. Perhaps someone had pinched it and hung it from a building at Gleisdreieck.
Saw the mosque, then cycled through Volkspark Hasenheide which had lots of people walking dogs and cycling. I then carried on along some streets before arriving at Görlitzer Park which actually seemed a bit of a mess. It was created in the 1990s when the former Görlitzer Bahnhof (station) was taken down and still has obvious areas where rail tracks were – rather like a lot of the UK cycle paths. They were digging up the path where I wanted to go so I had to find an alternative route.
Which suddenly involved a big pile of stand which acted as a very effective brake.
I’m glad I had an Alfine hub rather than the derailleur on my other trike as that would undoubtedly have been full of sand at this point. The chain tensioner was almost too low for this trike!
And then when I got to the end of this former railway line, I had to contend with some steps. Lovely.
I now found my way to Treptower Park which had a huge Soviet war memorial, with two very imposing gates as you go into and come out of the park.
I then found myself at Flutgraben which is where the Landwehr Canal and the Spree River join. I saw this memorial plaque but Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know anything about it.
I stopped here for a crepe.
And to be amused at the unfortunate name for this café.
I saw myself in a shop window so took a pic.
I had stopped off earlier at a little local shop which had various mobile phone things to buy a cover for my cracked camera screen (which I have now fitted and works very well). I had a 10 minute chat with the shop owner who was interested in my trike and looked at various bits. He seemed really excited that I had Schwalbe tyres – they are German, you know, he said. I did know, and I then pointed out the Schmidt Dynohub (that’s German) and the Busch & Müller front and rear lights (they’re German) which are much more interested but he wasn’t that impressed. Clearly tyres are his thing.
Anyway, I continued on going the wrong way over one bridge initially as the correct track wasn’t very obvious. I sorted myself out eventually and found myself going into a roaring headwind along the bank of the Spree.
Whereupon I saw a huge metal sculpture rising out of the water.
There was a plaque which explained it a bit.
Then I crossed over the Oberbaumbrücke which links Kreuzberg with the district of Friedrichshain.
The middle span of the bridge is rather less attractive than the ones either side. According to my guide book, Adolf Hitler had the middle span removed to try to slow down the Red Army’s march into Berlin.
I was then at the East Side Gallery again which I visited on a ride earlier in the week.
From here it was a direct route home as I had finished the tour once I got to the Ostbahnhof.
Whilst pootling along I saw the Berlin equivalent of Boris Bikes, whose control mechanism thingie appears to be solar powered.
There was a chap there cleaning everything and maintaining the bikes, except he knocked one over!
On my way back I cycled past the Rotes Rathaus. I took this pic when stopped at some traffic lights.
I have refrained from taking yet another photograph of the Brandenburg Gate (aren’t I kind!) but I did pass this comedy bike at the Siegesäule and took a pic. You usually see them with a bunch of drunk lads helping to pedal. This one seemed rather lonely.
Back to my apartment after 22 miles, so a short day today although it took almost five hours in total.
This is my last cycling day in Berlin as we drive home tomorrow lunchtime. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures – next year I shall be cycling from Berlin home to Britain so at least I’ve checked out the first five miles of the 700 mile route!!!
Statistics for this ride:
Distance – 21.84 miles
Time – 2 hours 58 minutes
Moving average – 7.35 mph
Average heart rate – 97
Max heart rate – 140
Maximum speed – 20.50
Calories burned – 776