Tag Archives: Gendarmenmarkt

Christmas Markets in Berlin – 5 Stars

Angel at Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

The Christmas Markets season in Berlin is well underway now and I’ve been out and about trying to sample as many as possible.

A friend recently told me that there are 60 Christmas Markets in Berlin this year.  It’s no wonder then that Berlin is popular with tourists who plan holidays specifically to take in some festive cheer.

With so many markets in the city it is difficult to know which ones visit so here’s my pick of the best Christmas Markets in Berlin I’ve seen so far.

Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt

Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt - a Christmas Market in Berlin

The Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber (Magic Christmas Market) on the Gendarmenmarkt is one of Berlin’s most popular Christmas Markets and it’s not difficult to see why.

Set between the Deutscher Dom, Konzerthaus and Französischer Dom on one of Berlin’s most picturesque squares it has many food and drink options and stalls selling decorations, craft and gifts

Merry X-Mas heart-shaped sweet at Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt - a Christmas Market in Berlin

When I visited on a Saturday evening the market was so busy it was difficult to move at times but even on a Wednesday evening it was thronging with people.

Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt and Französischer Dom - a Christmas Market in Berlin

If you have a mug of Glühwein here look out for the image of Knut (a famous Polar Bear at Berlin Zoo, sadly no longer with us) as an angel inside the lip, as pointed out to me by an eagle-eyed Digital Cosmonaut on a recent visit.

Tip: Climb the Französischer Dom (entrance fee €3) for a bird’s eye view of the market from the viewing platform.

Weihnachtsmarkt Zauber Gendarmenmarkt - a Christmas Market in Berlin - from the Französischer Dom

Location, Opening Times and Prices

Gendarmenmarkt – nearest station – U Hausvogteiplatz / Stadtmitte

Every day until 31 December: 11:00 – 22:00.

€1 (Free Monday to Friday 11:00 – 14:00)

Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais

Stalls at the Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais - a Christmas Market in Berlin

The Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt (Nostalgic Christmas Market) at the Opernpalais was one of the busiest and most atmospheric that I visited last year in Berlin.

Unfortunately, I think its popularity has been affected by virtually being surrounded by a building site, as visitor numbers seem much lower this year based on the few visits I’ve made.

Despite this it is still an interesting setting with some great views and the market is well laid out and offers a good variety of stalls.

Wooden Decorations on a stall at Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Hopefully, as we move closer to Christmas, the crowds, and with them the atmosphere, will return to Nostalgischer Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais

Tip: Stop by the stage in the southeast corner for musical performances.

Location, Opening Times and Prices

Opernpalais (Unter den Linden) – nearest station – U Hausvogteiplatz

Monday to Thursday: 12:00 – 21: 30; Friday & Saturday: 11:00 – 22: 30; Sunday: 11:00 – 22: 30 until 26 December.

Free

Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg

Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Schloss Charlottenburg lit up in many colours, Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg is the most impressive looking of all the Christmas Markets I’ve visited so far.

Stalls at Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

The cupola of the Schloss dominates the skyline over the market but the minaret of one food and drink stand and the Christmas Pyramid (Weihnachtspyramide) of the Deutscher Winzerglühwein stand provide interesting counterpoints.

A Food and Drink Stand at Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

People Drinking Glühwein at Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Tip: Arrive early and take the time to stroll around the Palace Gardens or go inside Schloss Charlottenburg.

Location, Opening Times and Prices

In front of Schloss Charlottenburg (Spandauer Damm) – nearest stations – S Westend / U Richard-Wagner-Platz

Monday to Thursday: 14:00 – 22: 00; Friday to Sunday: 12:00 – 22: 00 until 26 December.

Free

Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei

A Glühwein stand at Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei - a Christmas Market in Berlin

My favourite of favourite Berlin Christmas Markets of all those I’ve experienced this year (I haven’t been to all of them) has to be Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt at Kulturbrauerei.

Smaller and therefore more intimate than any of the other markets I’ve visited, Lucia has the best atmosphere.

Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Having read the Tourist Information on the market’s website I can tell you:

Named after Lucia, the Nordic goddess of light, the market is dedicated to the Scandinavian countries.

The emphasis here is on food and drink stalls, with just a few selling the usual trinkets, and it seems that it is popular as a meeting place for the local community.

A Glühwein stand at Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei - a Christmas Market in Berlin

As this market is behind my local supermarket I have been here on all days of the week and have yet to go without walking into the buzz and chatter of groups of friends.

A Dinosaur and a car on a Carousel ride at Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in der Kulturbrauerei - a Christmas Market in Berlin

Tip: If you’re feeling a little chilly look out for the ‘Coat-Open-Air-Heater’, a circle of Sheepskin coats strung around a fire.  Sit down and slip your arms into a coat where it hangs – add Glühwein for added fortification against Berlin’s winter weather if needed.

Location, Opening Times and Prices

Kulturbrauerei (Schönhauser Allee / Sredzkistrasse / Knaackstrasse) – nearest station – U Eberswalder Strasse

Monday to Friday: 15:00 – 22: 00; Saturday & Sunday: 13:00 – 22: 00 until 23 December.

Free

Stattmarkt at Stattbad Wedding

Extinguisher - Art by KEN (aka Plotterroboter) at Stattmarkt at Stattbad Wedding in Berlin

If you’ve had your fill of Glühwein and Bratwurst and would like an alternative to the many traditional markets in Berlin, head out to Stattbad Wedding for Stattmarkt.

This former public baths (Stadtbad), now a gallery/club/performance space, is hosting an art market Thursday to Sunday until 16 December.

Lost - Art by ALIAS at Stattmarkt at Stattbad Wedding in Berlin

With over 300 artworks from new and established urban artists Stattmarkt at Stattbad Wedding is an opportunity to view some outstanding art in an innovative and intriguing setting.

Tip: Make sure you check out the outside of the building too as this is a popular spot for Street Artists.

Location, Opening Times and Prices

Stattbad Wedding (Gerichtstrasse 65) – nearest station: S + U Wedding.

Thursday to Sunday: 12:00 – 19:00 until 16 December.

€5 (€3 concessions).

Berlin Festival of Lights 2012

The 8th annual Festival of Lights is taking place in Berlin 10 – 21 October 2012.  During the festival, a number of Berlin’s most famous landmarks and some lesser known buildings have been transformed with light installations, laser animations and video projections.

I started my tour of the Festival of Lights locations on Saturday in the Gendarmenmarkt, which I chose as there are 3 buildings taking part in close proximity.

Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral)

One of a pair of similar, though not identical, churches on the Gendarmenmarkt, the Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) is on the southern side of the square.

The Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Konzerthaus Berlin (Berlin Concert House)

Nestled between the two churches on the Gendarmenmarkt is Konzerthaus Berlin (Berlin Concert House).

A video projection on the Konzerthaus Berlin (Berlin Concert House) during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Französischer Dom (French Cathedral)

The Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) certainly looked very different from when I climbed it in January.

Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) lit up in many colours during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

It wasn’t just the fronts of some buildings that were lit up.  This statue lit up in orange on the side of the Französischer Dom caught my eye.

A statue on the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) lit orange during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

The Fernsehturm (TV Tower)

The Fernsehturm has to be one of my favourite buildings in Berlin.  Dominating the city skyline, at 368m it is visible from almost everywhere.  The views from it are also spectacular and I was fortunate enough to watch the sunset from the Fernsehturm recently.

Fernsehturm (TV Tower) and in the foreground a boat streaks past on the Spree during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

A bus streak past the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall) and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

On Sunday, I was lucky enough to be invited by my friends Bine and Gilly (of Gilly’s Playground) to take a tour of a number of West Berlin locations for Festival of Lights.  After an excellent Lasagne, we headed off in the car with Bine driving.

This allowed me to see some installations beyond the centre of Berlin that I wouldn’t otherwise have got to.

Siemens AG had lit up a number of buildings in the Siemensstadt.

Siemens AG Turbinenfabrik

A light projection on the Siemens AG Turbinenfabrik during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Siemens Technopark

A light instillation in the Siemens AG clock tower at Technopark during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Siemens AG Siemensdamm 50

A light projection on the Siemens AG building at Siemensdamm 50 during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Siemens AG Nonnendammallee 101

A light projection on the Siemens AG building at Nonnendammallee 101 during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

RBB Fernsehsendezentrum (RBB TV Broadcasting Centre)

The roof terrace of the RBB Fernsehsendezentrum (RBB TV Broadcasting Centre) was transformed by its light installation.

The roof terrace of the RBB (Rundfunk Berlin Brandenburg) building lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Funkturm

The Funkturm was West Berlin’s TV Tower and whilst dwarfed by its counterpart in the East is still an impressive building, especially when it’s lit up against the night sky.

A bus streaks past the Funkturm (West Berlin TV Tower) and Messe Berlin lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Funkturm (West Berlin TV Tower) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Elefantentor am Zoologischer Garten (The Elephant Gate at Berlin Zoo)

The larger of Berlin’s two zoos, the Zoologischer Garten is said to be the most visited zoo in Europe.  It is located within The Tiergarten, which is certainly worth a visit in its own right.

Elefantentor am Zoologischer Garten (The Elephant Gate at Berlin Zoo) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

The Siegessäule (Victory Column)

Known by Berliners as Gold Else, the Siegessäule (Victory Column) towers over the Tiergarten and affords spectacular views of Berlin, as you can see from my post here.

The Sigessäule (Victory Column) lit up during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

The light projections at the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) are sponsored by Urlaubsland Österreich (Tourist Country Austria) and had what I originally assumed was a ‘Winter’ theme.

When I first went here on Saturday there was a silent disco taking place on the Lustgarten so the area was incredibly crowded with people so I went back on Monday for some clearer shots.

The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with a snowflakes projection by Urlaubsland Österreich (Tourist Country Austria) during the Festival of Lights

The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with a wintry projection by Urlaubsland Österreich (Tourist Country Austria) during the Festival of Lights

The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with a Christmas Tree projection by Urlaubsland Österreich (Tourist Country Austria) during the Festival of Lights

Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate)

Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate) is probably Berlin’s most internationally recognised landmark and a symbol for the city.

A video projection spectacularly transforms the gate into a busy apartment building.

Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate) made to look like apartments during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

But a more simple light projection is also effective.

Brandenburger Tor (The Brandenburg Gate) lit up in many colours during the Festival of Lights in Berlin

With light shows at 68 locations across Berlin during Festival of Lights 2012, I still have more to see and recommend that anyone in Berlin between now and 21 October 2012 finds time to take in the lights.

Fassbender & Rausch – Sublime Chocolates in Berlin

Kir Royal Trüffel (Truffles) at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

A trip to Fassbender & Rausch would be one of my top tips for anyone visiting Berlin.

Of course, on your first visit to the German capital you should see the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), but why not also see them crafted from chocolate.

Fassbender & Rausch was formed in 1999 when two families of chocolatiers joined forces.  Heinrich Fassbender started making chocolate in 1863 in Mohrenstrasse, not far from the present shop.  Later, in 1890, Wilhelm Rausch established his first confectionery.

Entering the shop on the southern edge of the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin’s Mitte, you’ll feel like Charlie stepping into Willy Wonka’s factory.  Your eyes will be on stalks as you walk passed all the sights listed earlier and the chocolate volcano.

The Fernsehturm made from chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

To give you some idea of scale, the Reichstag here measures 1.6m x 1.6m x 0.65m and weighs in at a staggering 285 kg.  Oh, and it took 492 man-hours to create it.

The Reichstag made from chocolate at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

There is a huge array of truffles on offer and after enjoying some yourself you can earn some serious Brownie points if you take some home as gifts.  Fortunately, the staff here are incredibly patient with customers who find it difficult to narrow down the wide selection.

Shoppers at browsing the Truffle counter at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

Truffles cost €5.75 per 100g but the less fancy (but still wonderfully tasty) Borken Schokolade costs €3.45 per 100g.

Above the shop there is a Café and Restaurant.  I’m told that the hot chocolate here is something special but I’ve never been so can’t vouch for that.  The desserts on the menu outside look like they are to die for.

For most, Fassbender and Rausch in Berlin is a fantasy world of chocolate creations.  For a chocoholic like me, it’s a little slice of chocolate Heaven on Earth.  On leaving, those worried about their waistline can cross the Gendarmenmarkt to the Französischer Dom, where climbing the steps to the viewing gallery will help burn off some of the calories just consumed.

A box of Berlin souvenir chocolates at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

A white chocolate rabbit at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

Mazipan Herz (Hearts) at Fassbender & Rausch Chocolatiers on the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin

Französischer Dom – Berlin’s French Cathedral

The Cupola and Viewing Gallery of the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) in Berlin from the Gendarmenmarkt

I decided that a clear, bright day was the ideal time to do a spot of climbing and experience some of Berlin’s best views.

I started in the morning with a visit to the Französischer Dom (the French Cathedral) on the Gendarmenmarkt, one of Berlin’s more picturesque squares, and later in the day visited the Siegessäule.

Entry costs EUR 3 and the viewing platform is reached by a spiralling staircase.  I counted 236 steps (on the way down as I was concentrating on breathing on the way up) but at the foot of the stairs it indicates there are 254 (I suspect this may be to the top of the tower where the bells are, a little above the entrance to the balustraded viewing gallery).

Looking up at the bells inside the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) in Berlin

As well as overlooking the Gendarmenmarkt, the climb is rewarded with views over Mitte, the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), which is omnipresent on the Berlin Skyline (but I never tire of seeing it, especially from new vantage points).

The Französischer Dom is at the north of the square and the vewing platform provides a fantastic view past the Konzerthaus (Concert House) to the Deutscher Dom (the German Cathedral) in the south.

The view across the Gendarmenmarkt from the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) to the Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) in Berlin

Neither church is in actual fact a Cathedral, both colloquial names are derived from their domed towers.

When the weather is a little warmer I would like to go back and climb the Französischer Dom again and see how Berlin looks as it lights up for the evening.