Top 10 Facts about the Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz is today one of the most popular meeting points for Berliners and tourists. There are several attractions in this square as well as rich history.
This Square is also the centre of the city’s transportation system. There are boutiques, restaurants and taverns that one can go to.
One other fascinating thing about Alexanderplatz is its history. It is not known by many and that’s what I’ll delve into today.
Located at the heart of the city, Alex, as the locals call it one place you cannot miss to stop by while in Berlin. Here are the top 10 facts about Square.
1. The Square started off as a cattle market
From a cattle market to a public square, that is what Alexanderplatz started off to be. This was in the early 19th century.
Back then the square was named after the Russian Czar who had visited Berlin in 1805. By the end of the 19th century, the Square was connected to the local train system and got its own train station.
This was followed by a subway station in 1913. The Square quickly became a commercial hot spot with its first big shopping centre opening in 1904.
It also became the centre of Berlin’s nightlife and a major traffic hub. Authors and artists like Alfred Döblin drew inspiration from this square and even wrote a novel
2. It once served as the centre of East Berlin
After Germany was separated into two, Alexanderplatz fell into the East Berlin territory. While there, it served as the centre of both East Berlin and East Germany.
Most people regarded it as the centre of evil. During that time, the Square underwent a great amount of renovation that made it better than it was before.
The communists destroyed the palace at the Square since they decided that the centre of Berlin doesn’t need another palace.
Instead, they built their very own version of a palace instead. The new palace was called the palace of the republic where the East German government would reside.
This palace had lots of glass and was seen as being too modern for the 1960s.
3. The square was remodelled after the fall of the wall
After the German reunification, the Square went through another reconstruction. The new government needed to readjust the square to their liking.
They picked the communist palace and tore it down. In its place, they rebuilt the old Prussian palace. The new name for the palace was Humboldt Forum. Private investors funded its construction.
More developments followed with additions of a shopping centre, a multiplex cinema, a department store, shops, hotels. There are plans to add more high-rise buildings.
Alexanderplatz is still the biggest public square in any city in Germany.
4. The world clock at Alexanderplatz is from 1969
There is a massive world clock on Alexanderplatz and was erected in 1969 during the GDR regime. This is one of the main attractions of this Square.
The clock was officially handed over for the 20th anniversary of the GDR in1969. It was designed by Erich John, as well as engineered and constructed by about 120 experts from various professions.
There is a stone mosaic embedded at the bottom of the clock depicting a compass rose. There are also 24 corners on the base giving the clock 24 sides.
Each of the sides represents one of the 24 time zones of the earth. The world clock is10 meters high.
This clock was featured in the music video by the British pop group Erasure. There is a myth about a couple having a lifelong relationship if they stopped by the clock at midnight and hold hands.
5. The Square became popular in the 13th century
Alexanderplatz’s history goes back as far as the 13th century. This was when the double-town Cölln-Berlin existed.
It gained historical importance with the construction of the original Chapel of Reconciliation around 1230. By the end of the 13th century, the Square was known as a traffic zone for those who wanted to enter Berlin through its Oderberger Tor.
The development of the Square was slow at the beginning of the 18th century when it was a cattle market. It as frequented by farmers and merchants. This Square also served as a wool market.
6. The Alexanderplatz was used for military parades
While it served as a market, Square become a popular area for military parades and exercises. The Prussian troops, before the reunification of East Germany and West Germany, spent hours and days marching through the Square.
It progressed to become a major transport junction when the railway station opened in 1882. In 1886, the central market hall was constructed.
The construction of the Tietz department store between 1904 and 1911 made it the city’s main shopping centre. It gained literary fame around the world Alfred Döblin published his novel Berlin Alexanderplatz in 1929.
7. The Square was destroyed during World War II
A large section of the Square was destroyed in the Second World War. It was rebuilt in the 1960s to take the shape it boasts of today.
During this time, the big department store known as Centrum was built along with the adjacent Alex-Passagen, the world clock, the Fountain of International Friendship and East Berlin’s famous television tower. The Square became the centre for large events such as the 25th anniversary of the GDR.
8. It is near some other top attractions in Berlin
There are several attractions and sights around Alexanderplatz that can be reached on foot. Some of them are the Museum Island where the Pergamon Museum is, the Berliner Rathaus and the Berlin Cathedral. The Brandenburg Gate is also not far from the Square.
Berlin’s historic district, the Nikolaiviertel, is also close by as well as several stores to shop from. The TV tower is the second tallest structure in Europe and incredibly popular.
9. The Square hosts the Christmas market
If you happen to be in Berlin in December, check out Alexanderplatz for several Christmas markets.
At Alexanderplatz, you will find the Berliner Weihnachtszeit at Rotes Rathaus, or around the world clock and Alexa shopping centre.
There is also a market set under the iconic TV Tower, right between the Galeria Kaufhof department store and Alexa shopping mall.
You will find an open-air ice rink, a fairground ride and a Santa Claus party house perfect for those with children. The Christmas Market at Alexanderplatz is one of the busiest in Berlin.
Vendors here sell traditional crafts and Christmas products such as pottery, tchotchkes and carved Christmas pyramids.
A special feature of the market is the Christmas pyramid decorated with more than 5000 lights.
10. Alexanderplatz first train station was established in the 19th century
The late 19th century was extremely important for Alexanderplatz. It had the first train station that was created in 1882. This marked the beginning of what turned out to be a well-linked transport system.
The train allowed Berliners to find accessible routes in any direction. The U-Bahn arrived in 1913 and has been an important part of Berlin ever since.