Districts of Berlin: Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf

Learn more about the district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf…

As the cultural and economic centre of the former West-Berlin, the district (Bezirk) of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf still has a lot to offer today. It is a large district with seven localities (Ortsteile) which range from urban communities to quiet suburban neighborhoods. The majority of the residents in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf remain ethnic Germans without immigrant backgrounds, but there are sizeable Turkish and Russian populations with a long history in the area bringing it some multicultural flair. With universities, museums, theatres, and many historical locations there is something for everyone in this district.

The Center of West Berlin Charlottenburg

  • How to get there
    Savigny Platz: S-Bahn: S5, S7, S46, S75 Bus: M49, X34
    Kurfürstendamm: U-Bahn: U1, U9 Bus: 109, M19, N1, N2
    Zoologischer Garten: S-Bahn: S5, S7, S46, S75 U-Bahn: U1, U2, U9 Bus: 100, 110, 200
  • Remarkable places: Kurfürstendamm, Savigny Platz, Charlottenburg Palace

Initially a small village called Lietzow, the area of Charlottenburg has been continuously occupied since the early 1200’s. It received its current name after Sophia Charlotte of Hannover, the wife of Frederick I, King of Prussia. Frederick I built a palace in the area near Lietzow for Sophia Charlotte, and after she passed away both the palace and village came to be known as Charlottenburg. Over the years, the palace’s popularity waxed and waned before eventually becoming a favorite royal residence into the 19th century. In addition to developments from the crown, the surrounding area of the district became popular as a recreational area for the city, and there were many beer gardens and inns. In the late 19th century, Charlottenburg became a residential area for the Bourgeoisie, and was developed to have wide streets, spacious buildings, and plenty of parks.  In the 1920’s, it became a centre of nightlife in Berlin and a popular residence for artists. The area was heavily damaged during the Second World War, but after Berlin was partitioned, it quickly became established as the centre of West Berlin. Despite its vast commercial development during the Cold War, after the reunification it struggled to find its place within the city, although Kurfürstendamm remains the main shopping street.

As rental prices rise in the popular former East, Charlottenburg is often a more affordable option within the centre districts of Berlin. The locality is urban and the majority of buildings are tenement houses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries or newer buildings built after World War II. There are long-standing Russian and Turkish communities in the locality, and Kantstraße is known as the Chinatown of Berlin. Savignyplatz is a highlight of old buildings, tree-lined streets, and classy cafes. And to this day, Charlottenburg remains a popular location for famous artists and performers. 

Quiet and Green Charlottenburg-Nord

  • How to get there
    Jungfernheide Station: S-Bahn: S41, S42 U-Bahn: U7 Bus: M21, M27, N7, X9
  • Remarkable places: Jungfernheide Park, the Plötzensee Memorial (Die Gedenkstätte Plötzensee), Maria Regina Martyrum

Before district restructuring in 2004, the locality of Charlottenburg-Nord was a part of Charlottenburg proper. With the restructuring, the zones of Siedlung Charlottenburg-Nord, Jungfernheide, Paul-Hertz-Siedlung, Plötzensee, and Großsiedlung Siemensstadt were combined to form the new locality. The majority of this area was only settled after the Second World War. Prior to this time the only settlements were the Siemens factory and a prison built in the 1870’s in Plötzensee. The Plötzensee Prison was the location of the executions of hundreds of anti-Nazi resistance fighters. There is now a memorial to those executed by the Nazis at the prison.

Today, the area remains a working class district with limited options for nightlife or entertainment. The northern third of the district is comprised of the park Jungfernheide, the eastern third are private garden allotments (Kleingartenanlage), and in the south-west are housing estates. Charlottenburg-Nord remains one of the cheaper areas of Berlin and is a good choice for those searching for cheaper options within quick transit to Charlottenburg. 

Historic Wilmersdorf

  • How to get there: 
    Fehrberliner Platz: U-Bahn: U2, U3, U7 Bus: 101, 104, 115, N3, N7, N42
  • Remarkable places: Volkspark Wilmersdorf, Preussen Park Thai Market

Wilmersdorf has a long history in the area, likely beginning in 1220 during the German Eastern Expansion (Ostsiedlung) of the Margraves of Brandenburg. A successful farming community, Wilmersdorf began to rapidly expand in the 18th century, and by the 19th century land speculation along with influx of millions of economic migrants led to the area becoming an urban environment. It joined the city of Berlin in 1920 during the Greater Berlin Act and during this time developed into a middle-class community. In the early 20th century, the district had a large percentage of Jewish residents, comprising of more than 13% of the population in 1933. During the Nazi era, the Jewish population of Wilmersdorf was systematically displaced and exterminated. Despite this tragic past, Wilmersdorf continues to be a stronghold of the community, and includes the Israeli embassy.

The modern locality of Wilmersdorf is an eclectic mix of the fast-pace of inner-city living and calm, quiet residential areas. To its north, it borders the shop street of Kurfürstendamm with its many restaurants and high-street shops. The south of the locality is far more residential with quiet streets, parks, and cafes being the norm. It is one of the more expensive places to rent in Berlin.  

Small but Fun Halensee

  • How to get there
    Halensee Station: S-Bahn: S41, S42, S46 Bus: 104, M19, M29, N42, SEV, X10
  • Remarkable places: Hochmeisterkirche, Kurfürstendamm

Like the district of Charlottenburg-Nord, Halensee only recently became its own locality with district restructuring in 2004. Prior to 2004, Halensee was a part of the locality of Wilmersdorf. It was named after a lake in the Grunewald and was developed as tenement housing in the late 19th century. It was an area popular with retired military officers and writers. In the 1920’s it was also a popular location for Russian immigrants. During the Second World War, Halensee was severely damaged and so the area is a mix of new modern buildings and older tenement houses.

With Kurfürstendamm running through its centre, Halensee has a lot to offer in terms of shops and restaurants despite its small size. It is an easy walking distance from many of the main sights in Charlottenburg. The area is primarily urban with a mix of new and old apartment blocks. The rent prices are similar to those in Charlottenburg, and it is easy to get from Halensee to most central areas of the city making it a popular choice.

Quaint Schmargendorf

  • How to get there:
    Berkaer Str./Breite Str.: Bus 110, 186
    Hohenzollerndamm: S-Bahn: S41 S42 S46 
  • Remarkable places: Breite Straße, Berkaer Straße, Rathaus Schargendorf

Another small village which joined the city of Berlin during the Greater Berlin Act of 1920, Schmargendorf, like the neighboring village of Wilmersdorf, was likely founded in 1220. It was first mentioned in 1354 and at the time it was called “’s Margreven Dorp” which translates as the Margrave’s village, and over time it reached its current spelling. Schmargendorf borders the Grunewald forest, which led to it becoming a popular residential area of the middle class.

Today, Schmargendorf remains largely residential with a small-town feel, limited public transportation, and relatively high rents. While much of the area is comprised of villas, there are also some apartment blocks. The east of the locality contains a large sport complex and to the south is an area of private garden allotments (Kleingartenanlage).

Naturally Beautiful Grunewald

  • How to get there
    Grunewald Station: S-Bahn: S5, S7, S75 Bus: 186, 349, M19
  • Remarkable places: Holocaust Memorial “Track 17”, Grunewald Park

Grunewald (English: “Green Forest”) derives its name from the neighboring hunting lodge of the same name which is the oldest preserved castle in Berlin. It was developed in the late 19th century as an upper-class residential area, largely promoted by the chancellor Otto von Bismarck. It soon became one of the wealthiest areas of Berlin. Along with its impressive villas and natural beauty, Grunewald is also well known for its dark past of being the location of the Grunewald freight railway station where more than 50,000 Jews were deported by the Nazis to extermination camps.

Not much has changed in Grunewald over the years, and it remains mostly made up of the forest and a limited area of villas. It is a popular location for walking, cycling, and swimming with more than 3,000 hectares of land. Only the eastern part of the locality is populated, and it is a quiet and expensive residential suburb of the city.

Remote and Relaxed Westend

  • How to get there
    Theodor-Heuss-Platz: U-Bahn: U2 Bus: 104, 218, 349, M49, N2, N42, SEV, Z34, X49
  • Remarkable places: Theodor-Heuss-Platz, Olympic Stadium (Olympiastadion), Steubenplatz

For most of its history, Westend was a sandy hill with only a few mills. However, following the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt in 1806, Napoleon set up a camp for his occupying troops while he resided in the nearby Charlottenburg Palace. After the French troops withdrew, the area remained unoccupied. In the 1840’s, a brewery was opened called the Spandau Bock Beer Brewery and its popularity led to the development of several bars and inns on the road to Charlottenburg. However, it wasn’t much thought of until the 1860’s when developers began to buy up large parcels of land in the area in order to build villas for the wealthy. It was at this time that it received the name Westend, so called after the ritzy district of London. While these initial development plans collapsed in the economic Panic of 1873, the area soon became populated due to the increasing need for residential areas as Berlin expanded during the industrial revolution. During the early 20th century, the northwestern area of Westend became the home of several sports complexes culminating in the stadium for the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Westend is a mix of different types of buildings from tenement houses to villas to private garden allotments (kleingartenanlage). While quite a distance from the center of the city, the rental prices remain rather average for Berlin. In Neu-Westend (U-Bahn Neu-Westend) there are primarily tenement houses, but a few blocks away is a large villa colony built in the early 20th century. The west of the district is mostly comprised of the Olympic complex and to the north is park area and garden allotments. The south west corner near Heerstraße is more rural in nature with a small-town feel.