A couple of weeks ago, part of the Woerlitz Tourism trade, I went to a tour of the cultural institutions in Berlin. From the comfort of the leather chairs of a Mercedes bus, I spent 50 minutes passing by bus around one of the usual spots I go by almost once the week, this time being shared histories and details that I was not familiar with. Berlin was and continue to be home to a variety of institutions and cultural attractions, from cabaret to movie theatres and musical theatres.
One of the oldest was created in Alexanderplatz. For instance, in 1824, a private theatre was created here whose aim was to avoid any tragic representations. It was closed in 1848 and shortly replaced by the Deutsche Theater. On the other part of the city, in the Spandauer Viertel, the Jewish emigres from Central and Eastern Europe were developing a culture in Yiddish, including theatre, a genre that started to develop from the 18 century onwards.
Another cultural center that continue to function nowadays is at Hackescher Hof, where maximum 8 kinos. The area also has beautiful galleries hosting modern artists from all over the world, many of them living in Berlin. Another recognized cultural institution is the Museum Insel, part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Further on, around Friedrichastrasse is situated the classical Admiral Palast. On Unter den Linden, the Komische Oper and the Kanzleramt, inheriting Knoll Opa, a place famous in the 1860s and destroyed by the war. Another cultural attraction nearby is the Haus der Kultren der Welt, a present of the US to the city of Berlin in 1957. After the intensive cultural program, Tierpark is offering the green alleys for discussions and complete relaxation.
The area around Ku'damm was and continue to has an intensive cultural activities. Theater dem Westens, for instance, is changing the repertoire once the year, offering a local variant of Broadway. A couple of minutes away, there is the Helmut Newton Photography Museum. Straight away, direction Charlottenburg, there is Renaissance Theatre, hosting not only modern representations, but also regular book lectures and intellectual discussions. Only a couple of bus stations away is the Deutsche Oper, with more than 1,000 guests. For the summer, the neighbouring Charlottenburg Castle offers concerts and special Romantic menus at the Orangerie restaurant.
Back around Ku'damm, the jazz lovers know that Quasimodo is one of the best places to check in town. I've been there once and enjoy the intimate ambiance and the good quality of the music. The Delfi Kino, situated on the other side of the building was part of the network of Berlinale movies.
Many theatres in Berlin cope with difficult financial times, and 'insolvenz'/bankruptcy was often mentioned in relation with the recent history of cultural institutions in Berlin. Knowing the history of the buildings is important to know exactly what happened with them. For instance, in this building used to be once the Nelson Theatre where Josephine Baker once played.
I might say that most of the theatres on Ku'damm are from the leisure category, offering either musicals or various levels of entertainment. For more seriousness, Potsdamer Platz can be an alternative, especially if thinking about the exquisite programs offered by the Philharmonic. Very close, the Museum of Musical instruments gives the opportunity to follow up the social history of music and the Neue Galerie.
Returning close to Alexandeplatz, Volksbuehne and Kino Babylon, where the original organ for mute movies can still be seen, are the main cultural foci. For the expats looking to continue their good cultural habits even though they don't speak German, the Gorki Theatre recently introduced the English subtitles, a step aimed to encourage more cultural integration of the growing expat population of Berlin.
With so many cultural opportunities around, I might confess that I visited roughly 45% of them. On the Berlin front, more evening out in the cultural scenery of the city are the priority in the next weeks.