As you walk around, look out for the differences in architecture between buildings built under the Communists and the other that have sprung up after subsequent government investment: the styles make for quite a contrast.
Alexanderplatz, colloquially referred to as Alex by Berliners, is a park in former East Germany near the Fernsehturm, the enormous TV tower which has become the ultimate civic emblem of the country. Nearly every metro stops at U or S-bahn Alexanderplatz, so it’s incredibly easy to get to for lunch, or to enjoy its well-provisioned shopping district.
Alexanderplatz has a fun, relaxed city vibe - it’s a place where true Berliners come to sit, drink a few Pilsener and enjoy the bands and performers who move about the park.
In the Cold War Alexanderplatz was essentially the East German city-centre. The construction of a huge tower was as much a political play as a reflection of the revolutionary broadcasting technology being introduced worldwide. It has an austere, futuristic appearance and, importantly to the East Germans, was visible from almost everywhere in Berlin. It dominates the skyline in a city with few other high-rise buildings, the main financial centre remaining in Frankfurt. It was a message to the capitalist world, a statement of intent, a display of power.
Alex’s heyday was the 1920s, when together with Potsdamer Platz it was at the heart of Berlin's nightlife, inspiring the 1929 novel Berlin Alexanderplatz, a classic of the interwar period.
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