Districts of Berlin: Mitte

Learn more about the historic district of Mitte…

The district (Bezirk) of Mitte is comprised of six localities (Ortsteile), and is one of two districts which include localities of both former East and West Berlin. The area of Mitte is the location of the oldest part of Berlin and contains many of the most important historical monuments, museums, and government offices in the city. An important point to note, when locals speak of “Mitte”, they are usually referring to the locality and not the greater district.

Living Centrally: Berlin Mitte

  • How to get there: S5 S7 S75 U2 U5 U8 Alexanderplatz
    Remarkable places: Alexanderplatz, Hackescher Markt, Friedrichstraße 

The word Mitte means “middle” in English, and is a fitting name for the most central and oldest of all the Berlin districts. In medieval times, much of the area which now makes up the district Mitte was comprised of two towns, Alt-Berlin and Cölln which in time grew together to make up city of Berlin. In 1920, Mitte became the first district of Berlin during the Greater Berlin Act (Groß-Berlin-Gesetz) and was developed during the reign of the Prussians. Heavily damaged during World War II, Mitte later became the city centre of East Berlin. 

Mitte contains some of the most important museums and cultural sights of the city. At the centre of the district is the Museum Island (Museumsinsel) which is named for the area where five internationally important museums are located as well as the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom). To the east is the former East Berlin hub Alexanderplatz, famous for its TV Tower (Fernsehturm), as well as the city hall of Berlin (Rotes Rathaus). To the west is the State Opera of Berlin (Staatsoper), Humboldt University, the shop street Friedrichstraße, the Holocaust Memorial, and the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor).

Due to its prime location and historical significance, Mitte was the first of the former East Berlin districts to gentrify and now has some of the highest rents in the city. However, along with the high rents this district is popular for its trendy cafes, restaurants and beautiful historic streets. It is also easily accessible with public transport.

Park and New Developments: Tiergarten 

  • How to get there: S1 S2 S25 U2 Potsdamer Platz, S5 S7 S75 Tiergarten
  • Remarkable places: Potsdamer Platz, Straße des 17. Juni

Tiergarten, which means “animal garden” in English, was originally a large hunting ground for the Electors of Brandenburg, but was developed into its current form as a park in the 1830’s. After the devastation of World War II, it was deforested and the wood was used for firewood for the city. Today, the park has been regrown and is known for its memorials for the victims of the Nazi era. Splitting the park in half is the street “Straße des 17. Juni” which from east to west starts at the Brandenburg Gate, passes the Victory Column (Siegessäule) and ends at the Charlottenburg Gate (Charlottenburger Tor).

The locality was formerly within West Berlin, and is now the home of many parliamentary and government buildings including the offices of the German Chancellery and Bundestag. While in the past the area was undeveloped, in recent years several new apartment buildings have been built opening the way for new residents.

Famous Working Class District: Wedding 

  • How to get there: U6, U9 Leopoldplatz
  • Central area: around Leopoldplatz

A farmstead and forest for much of its history, Wedding started to develop in the mid-1700’s as a pleasure district. With mass migration from rural areas to the city in 19th century, Wedding later became a working class district. During the interwar years, it was known for the violent clashes between Nazis and Communist groups. After World War II, Wedding was part of the French sector which later became West Berlin.

Today Wedding is one of the poorest areas of Berlin with high unemployment rates. However, rents are also relatively low in comparison to other areas, although this is slowly beginning to change. It is an ethnically diverse area, with significant Turkish, Arab, African, and Asian communities. 

Full of History: Gesundbrunnen 

  • How to get there: S1 S2 S8 S9 S41 S42 U8

Gesundbrunnen translates as “health well” and derives its name from a mineral spring discovered in the area in 1748. In its early years it was a popular location for health seekers, but later became a working class district and the home of the popular Berlin football club Hertha BSC. It became famous during the Soviet Era for the daring escapes of some East Germans after the wall was built. In addition, the border crossing at Bornholmer Straße station was the first to open allowing East Berliners to pass into the west. 

Like its close neighbor Wedding, Gesundbrunnen also has higher statistics of poverty and unemployment. Near its centre is one of the larger parks of inner-city Berlin, Volkspark Humboldthain. In recent years, Gesundbrunnen has begun to become more gentrified as rents have increased throughout the inner-city. 

Historic Hansaviertel 

  • How to get there: U9 Hansaplatz

For a period of time in the 15th century, the city of Berlin was a member of the Hanseatic League, a commercial and defensive coalition of allied city states. The locality takes its name from this coalition and its streets are named after the different Hanseatic cities of Germany. It is the smallest locality in Berlin and was almost completely destroyed during World War II. The area was redeveloped as a housing estate in the 1950’s by international architects and is now a protected historic monument. 

The Hansaviertel was developed to be a self-contained community and is home to several churches, childcare facilities, a library, a theater, and a club. Among its highlights are the unique architectural style of the buildings, several interesting works of modern art and sculpture, and the residence of the German President, Schloß Bellevue.

From Border District to Central: Moabit 

  • How to get there: U9 Turmstraße

Moabit was originally a waste dumping area and part of the hunting grounds of the electors of Brandenburg. It remained sparsely populated throughout the 18th century and stayed this way until it was developed as an industrial suburb in the 19th century. Formerly a border district of West Berlin, since the fall of the wall Moabit has become central. In recent years there has been much new development, including the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the central station Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Near the Hauptbahnhof in the Berlin State Museums of Contemporary Art which is housed in the former Hamburger Bahnhof, one of the oldest railway stations in Germany. 

Known for its large immigrant population and its prison, Moabit has only just recently begun to see signs of gentrification since the opening of the Hauptbahnhof. The district is split between the more affluent section south of park Kleiner Tierpark, and the poorer northern section. However, it remains an affordable area in central Berlin and is easily accessible by both U-Bahn and S-Bahn.

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