Districts of Berlin: Marzahn-Hellersdorf

Learn more about the district of Marzahn-Hellersdorf…

Marzahn-Hellersdorf is a quiet district (Bezirk) with five localities (Ortsteile) and is on the far eastern edge of the city of Berlin. Each locality was originally a small village and this atmosphere is still present with historical old village centers and modern suburban sprawls. Recently, the area has seen a surge of popularity due to its small-town atmosphere, beautiful parks and lakes, and eminently affordable rents.

Suburban: Biesdorf

How to get there:
  • Berlin-Biesdorf: S-Bahn: S5 Bus: 192
  • U Elsterwerdaer Platz: U-Bahn: U5 Bus: 108, 154, 190, 269, 398, X69
Remarkable places: Schloss Biesdorf, Biesdorfer Dorfkirche

As a small village founded during the German eastward expansion (Ostsiedlung), Biesdorf had a modest beginning which was significantly devastated during the Thirty Years War. Thereafter, it came under the control of Friedrich Wilhelm, Elector of Brandenburg and from then on was controlled by his successors and later the King of Prussia until 1874. In 1920, Biesdorf joined district of Lichtenberg with the Greater Berlin Act. When the Nazis came into power, Biesdorf was the location of forced labor camps which held mostly French and Soviet POWs. In addition, hundreds of patients of local institution for epileptics were sterilized and many were later deported to death camps. Following World War II, Biesdorf became part of the Soviet controlled East Berlin. Biesdorf is a densely populated, middle-class district made up of mostly single and multifamily homes. It is readily accessible with public transport, though the S-Bahn and U-Bahn lines run through the center parts of the district. The north and south are served by bus lines. While Biesdorf does not have many parks, to the west it borders to the Tierpark, one of Berlin’s two zoos, and the grounds of the Schloss Biesdorf are open to the public. Biesdorf is one of the most popular localities of Marzahn-Hellersdorf and the rental prices reflect this, although they are still reasonable compared to inner-city prices.

Well-connected: Hellersdorf

How to get there:
  • U Bahnhof Hellersdorf: U-Bahn: U5 Tram: 18, M6 Bus: 195, N5, X54
Remarkable places: Helle Mitte, Hönower Weiherkette

First documented as “Helwichstorpp” in 1375, Hellersdorf was a small village for much of its history. In 1886, the city of Berlin purchased the estate of Hellersdorf and a hospital for the chronically ill was built. After World War II, it became part of the Soviet controlled East Berlin. During the 1970’s, it was heavily developed and several “Plattenbauten” (prefab high-rise apartment buildings) were built. Following the reunification of Germany, Hellersdorf was further developed with the Helle Mitte, a community center which was finished in 1997. Hellersdorf is an inexpensive suburb of Berlin with lots of green spaces and inexpensive flats. Much of the locality is comprised of Plattenbauten, but many of the flats were renovated in the 1990’s and the area has started to become a popular location for families looking for inexpensive, suburban living. The entire locality is well connected by U-Bahn and Tram, and U5 lines goes directly to Alexanderplatz in thirty minutes. Although the area has a reputation of far-right activity, in recent years this has begun to change and now Hellersdorf is becoming a more popular location for those searching for a budget-friendly area of Berlin to live.

Quiet and remote: Kaulsdorf

How to get there:
  • S-Bahnhof Kaulsdorf: S-Bahn: S5 Bus: 164, 197, 399, N95
Remarkable places: Dorfkirche Kaulsdorf/Jesuskirche, Kaulsdorfer Seen

Built from the remains of a previous Slavic settlement, Kaulsdorf (originally “Caulstorp”) was founded in the late 12th century during the German eastward expansion (Ostsiedlung). The area was devastated during the Thirty Years War in 1638 and wasn’t reoccupied until 1652. In 1920, it was incorporated into the district of Lichtenberg during the Greater Berlin Act. Following World War II, Kaulsdorf became part of Soviet controlled East Berlin. Along with neighboring localities Mahlsdorf and Biesdorf, Kaulsdorf is part of Germany’s largest contiguous area of single and multifamily homes. It is densely settled, but there is a large park with several lakes in the central-east part of the locality. It is largely a middle-class area with single-family homes. Rental prices are reasonable, though not as inexpensive as other areas in the district such as Marzahn or Mahlsdorf, however there are not many public transport options which can make it very remote from the city center.

Inexpensive: Mahlsdorf

How to get there:
  • S-Bahnhof Mahlsdorf: S-Bahn: S5 Tram: 62, 63 Bus: 195, 197, 395, 398, N90, N95
Remarkable places: Gründerzeitmuseum, Dorfkirche Mahlsdorf, Berliner Balkon

Mahlsdorf developed as a north-south oriented linear settlement in the early 13th century. South of the church the old Berlin-Frankfurt (Oder)-Poznań-Gniezno trade route ran, which provided the town with much of its economic livelihood. The village church was built in the 13th century and is still actively used. Mahlsdorf was incorporated into Berlin in 1920 and after World War II became part of the Soviet controlled East Berlin. From 1959 to 1989, the former cinema Lichtburg in Mahlsdorf was the production location of the popular GDR children’s television program “Unser Sandmännchen”. Mahlsdorf is a densely populated suburb largely made up of single and multifamily homes. While rental prices are considerably lower than in the inner-city, the access to public transport can be sparse. Together with neighboring localities Biesdorf and Kaulsdorf, it is part of the largest contiguous area of single and multifamily homes in Germany.

Up-and-coming: Marzahn

How to get there:
  • Berlin-Marzahn: S-Bahn: S7, Tram: M6, 16, Bus: X54, 191, 192, 195, 29
  • Marzahner Promenade: Tram: 16, M6 Bus: 191, 192, 195
Remarkable places: Marzahner Bockwindmühle, Marzahner Dorfkirche, Gärten der Welt

Similar to many of the surrounding areas, the area which became the village of Marzahn was founded during the German eastward expansion (Ostsiedlung) of the early 13th century. It was first documented in a deed in 1300 as the village of “Morczane” by the Margrave Albert III of Brandenburg-Salzwedel. For much of its history, Marzahn was a small, rural village and was incorporated into Berlin in 1920 as part of the Greater Berlin Act which expanded the borders of the city of Berlin to several outlying villages. Unfortunately, the twentieth century saw a darker period for Marzahn. In 1936, it became the location of the first camp for “foreign races” (Fremdrassige), a labor camp for Romani. It was originally opened as a way to clear the city of Romani prior to the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, but it soon became the largest “gypsy” camp in Germany. Thousands were incarcerated in the camp, and many of these were eventually sent to their deaths at the camps of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. Marzahn was also the location of the two forced labor camps whose prisoners were made to work at a nearby factory of Hasse & Wrede and local farms. Following World War II, Marzahn became a part of the Soviet controlled East Berlin and later became the location of several housing developments. With its mix of “Plattenbauten” (prefab high-rise apartment buildings) and single-family homes, Marzahn offers a wide variety of residential options for those seeking more affordable rents as inner-city prices increase. Although it is one of the more distant suburbs of Berlin, it is well connected by S-Bahn, tram, and bus. It also has the benefit of the Eastgate shopping center which is the fifth-largest in Berlin. Marzahn has long had poor reputation due to far-right activity in the area. However, the situation has significantly improved in recent years and there have been broad restoration work done on buildings and parks.