Merged to become part of the borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, the former working class district of Friedrichshain has turned from a classic tenement location just east of the Berlin Wall into a young and vibrant quarter in the heart of Germany’s first city.
The district’s name is inspired by the Volkspark Friedrichshain public park in its northern part, which is a popular hangout not just for local residents. Situated on an elevated point with a view across the inner city, it is an oasis used by people young and old for running, skating, climbing or for picnics at the Fairytale fountain.
The southern section of Friedrichshain borders on the Spree riverbank with its promenades, the remnant of the Berlin Wall called East Side Gallery, industrial brownfields and disused railway sites that have been redeveloped into art and cultural venues with annexed restaurants and bars. The sole nexus between the two districts of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg that form a single borough is Oberbaumbrücke, a landmark bridge shared by cars, cyclists, pedestrians and an underground track. Once a year, it is closed off to motorised traffic to host the Open Art Gallery, a popular event drawing crowds of visitors. The Stralau peninsula at the southern-most tip of the district has gradually evolved from a quaint day-trip destination into a high-end residential quarter of suburban flair directly on the waterfront of Spree River where it widens into Rummelsburger Bucht.
Architectonically speaking, Friedrichshain is an eclectic blend of several historic periods. While the district’s western end is dominated by the successive stages of post-war urban development, the eastern part remains dotted with late-nineteenth-century buildings, most of which have been refurbished at great cost. Probably the most remarkable artery traversing Friedrichshain is Karl-Marx-Allee, expanded into a grand boulevard in the neo-classicist style of Stalinist architecture during the 1950s. Residential settlements left and right of the thoroughfare manifest the classic modernist style of the 1920s.
The diversity of old and new, of vibrancy and tranquillity, makes Friedrichshain one of the most sought residential areas in the city.