Districts of Berlin: Pankow

Learn more about the district of Pankow…

The district of Pankow is the most populated and second largest district in the city and has thirteen localities which range from urban to rural areas. Before the late 19th century, the localities of Pankow were mostly small farming communities. It has now transformed into one of the most popular areas of the city, particularly around the famous southern locality of Prenzlauer Berg. The outer localities of Pankow are increasingly popular for those seeking inexpensive rents in areas with peaceful and beautiful surroundings. With both urban and rural options and convenient public transport options, Pankow is a district with much to offer.

Trendy Prenzlauer Berg

  • How to get there
    U-Bhf. Eberswalder Straße: U-Bahn: U2  Tram 12, M1, M2, M10 Bus N2
  • Remarkable places: Kollwitzplatz, Kulturbrauerei, Prater Beer Garden, Mauerpark

Prior to the 19th century, the area that would become Prenzlauer Berg was just a few fields and wind mills. Like many of the surrounding districts, the layout of Prenzlauer Berg was defined by the binding-plan of urban design of the Hobrecht-Plan and was part of the Wilhelmine Ring. The results of which was a community of multi-occupancy housing blocks on wide avenues with large urban parks and a modern sewer system. The locality became known for its specific style of tenement houses and was highly overpopulated at the turn of the century. Later in the century the Nazis used several buildings in the area to torture political opponents including the historic water tower (Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg). While the area was significantly damaged during the war, only 10% of buildings were considered completely destroyed and 72% of buildings were only slightly damaged or intact which is considerably less than other areas of the city such as Mitte and Tiergarten which had a 50% loss of buildings. Due to this relative low amount of damage, the area retains much of the architectural charm of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Prenzlauer Berg was part of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and became a popular location for artists, students, and the gay community. Following the reunification of Germany, many of the buildings which had been state owned were sold to private investors leading to significant gentrification.

Prenzlauer Berg is the most densely populated locality in the city. An area severely affected by gentrification, since the reunification in the early nineties it has transformed from a working-class neighborhood to one of the most expensive and sought-after areas in the city and the community is largely made up of young urban professionals. It is characterized by tree-lined avenues, classic architecture, young families, and trendy restaurants, cafes, and bars. Kastanienallee is a popular location for its nightlife and Greifenhagener Straße is known to be the place of East Berlin's vibrant gay scene.

Traditional Weissensee

  • How to get there
    Falkenberger Staße/Berliner Allee: Tram: 12, 27 Bus: 27, 156
  • Remarkable places: Weißensee, Park am Weißensee, Milchhäuschen, Brotfabrik

Weißensee, which translates as “White Lake” and derives its name from the lake of the same name, was founded around 1230 on a medieval trade route. It was first mentioned in 1313 as “Wittense”. The early settlers subsisted on fishing and trading on the nearby route which went between Berlin and Szczecin (Stettin) and the Baltic Sea. Around 1540 a manor was established in the area, but it frequently changed ownership. During the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648) the village was repeatedly occupied by Swedish troops and the population was devastated, but it quickly recovered. In the late 19th century, the population expanded greatly as the area was developed due to the expanding population of Berlin. Following World War II, Weißensee was a part of East Berlin.

Weißensee is a green and spacious urban-residential district. It is one of the least densely populated areas of Berlin, although it's beginning to become more popular due to the convenient public transport into the city centre and its proximity to the popular neighborhood of Prenzlauer Berg. Until recently, the area has largely been ignored by developers and investors making it a relatively inexpensive option which retains the charm of Berlin before its rise in popularity. The locality has five different quarters: the Gründerviertel to the west is mostly commercial and industrial buildings, the Komponistenviertel to the south is mostly apartment blocks of both new and old styles, Alt-Weißensee at Berliner Allee is in the centre of the locality and where shopping can be found, the Munizipalviertel in the central-west has architecturally significant apartments from the 1910's, and the Taut-Siedlung which is an inexpensive apartment block.

Suburban Blankenburg 

  • How to get there
    S-Bhf. Blankenburg: S-Bahn: S2, S8, S9 Bus: 150, 154
  • Remarkable places: Dorfkirche Blankenburg, Alt-Blankenburg

Like many of the villages around Berlin, Blankenburg was founded in the early 13th century during the eastward expansion (Ostsiedlung) of settlers from the south western areas of Germany. The village church (Dorfkirche Blankenburg) was built in 1250 and it still exists to this day. In Alt-Blankenburg, the village still retains many old buildings and the classic village design of houses built around a central church and green park.

Today, Blankenburg is a quiet, developed suburb with is mostly made up of single-family homes. It has some of the lowest rental prices in Berlin, but it is far removed from the nightlife opportunities available in inner-city localities. That being said, the S-Bahn connection is highly reliable, and it takes only 20 minutes to reach the city centre.

Historic Heinersdorf 

  • How to get there
    Heinersdorf Kirche: Tram: M2 Bus: 158, N58, X54
    S-Bhf. Pankow-Heinersdorf: S-Bahn: S2, S8, S9 Bus: N50 Tram: 50
  • Remarkable places: Dorfkirche Heinersdorf, Altes Spritzenhaus, Wasserturm Heinersdorf

Heinersdorf was first mentioned in 1319 when it was sold by the Margrave of Brandenburg to the Hospital of the Holy Ghost in Berlin, but it was likely founded much earlier, around 1230. After the initial sale, the village changed owners several times. The church foundations were laid around 1300 and there are two stained glass windows by Charles Crodel from 1946. With the construction of the railway line in 1900 to the city of Bernau, the locality of Heinersdorf began to grow with modern single-family home settlements built.

Like many of the surrounding localities, Heinersdorf is a suburban community with inexpensive rents. Much of the area to the south and north are communities of private garden allotments (Kleingartenanlagen). It is also the home of the Khadija Moschee, the first mosque in Eastern Germany.

Quiet Karow 

  • How to get there
    Alt-Karow: Bus: 150, 158, 350, N58
    S-Bahnhof Karow: Train: RB27 S-Bahn: S2 Bus: 350
  • Remarkable places: Alt-Karow, Dorfkirche Karow, Karower Teiche

Founded in the early 13th century, Karow was first documented as “Kare” in 1244, although it is uncertain where the name originates. The village church was built around 1250 and it still exists along with several farmhouses from the 19th century. Karow was a rural farming community for much of its history before being lightly developed in the late 19th century. The northern part of the locality was used as a sewage farm for Berlin. With the creation of the train line between Bernau and Berlin, Karow became a more popular location and the population raised significantly in the 1920’s and 1930’s, almost exclusively as small settlement houses created for partial sustainability. 

The northwest area of Karow, where once there was a sewage farm, is now a nature reserve. The area is one of the more densely settled areas of northern Pankow district, but is still comprised of primarily single-family homes, though there are some apartment blocks in the eastern part of the locality. Like neighboring areas in northern Pankow, Karow is an inexpensive suburban community without many nightlife options, but easily accessible to the city centre.

The S-Bahn station of Karow is as well the starting point of the Heidekrautbahn RB 27 (Heather flower line) which takes commuters and Berliners seeking recreation out of town to many place in Northern Brandenburg like Wandlitz, Groß Schönebeck and Schmachtenhagen. 

Small and remote Stadtrandsiedlung Malchow

  • How to get there
    Schwarzelfenweg: Bus: 255
  • Remarkable places: Golf Resort Berlin Pankow

Stadtrandsiedlung Malchow is a small hamlet which used to belong to the rural community of Malchow. In the 1930’s the area was lightly developed and the northern part was used as a sewage farm, approximately a kilometre southwest of the village of Alt-Malchow. Here the streets and places are named after Norse mythology.

Most of the locality consists of farmland and private garden allotments (Kleingartenanlagen) with only a small southern section populated by single-family homes. The community borders the industrial northern area of the locality of Weißensee. It is not easily accessible with public transport.

Up-and-coming Pankow

  • How to get there
    S-Bahnhof Pankow: S-Bahn: S2, S8, S9 U-Bahn: U2 Bus: 107, 155, 250, 255, M27, N2, N50, X54 Tram: 50, M1
    Rathaus Pankow: Tram: M1 Bus: 107, 155, 250, 255
  • Remarkable places: Rathaus Pankow, Barockes Kavaliershaus, Alte Pfarrkirche Pankow, 

Named for the Panke River which flows at the edge of the locality, Pankow was founded in the early 13th century. It was a small village until the early 19th century during an urban boom. Traces of the original village can be found on Breiten Straße where the original village green with connected church remains. In the late 19th century, Pankow became a popular destination for Berliners to spend their summer months. During the partition of Berlin, Pankow was in the Soviet sector. It was an important district due to the nearby Schönhausen Palace being the residency of the president of East Germany.

Pankow is an urban-residential community which is primarily made up of apartment buildings. As it is still relatively inexpensive compared to nearby districts and well-connected to multiple public transport routes, it is an up-and-coming area which has seen rental price increases and minor gentrification in recent years. The area of Breite Straße lies the centre of the old village of Pankow and continues to be a highlight of the area. 

Blankenfelde

  • How to get there
    Berliner Straße: Bus: 107
  • Remarkable Places: Dorfkirche Blankenfelde, Botanische Anlage Blankenfelde

Before Blankenfelde was settled during the eastward expansion (Ostsiedlung) in the early 13th century, it was the sight of an old Slavic settlement. Like much of the surrounding area, it was greatly affected by the Thirty Years War, but soon recovered as a small rural community. In the late 19th century, the area was used as a sewage farm for the city of Berlin. During World War II it was the location of two camps for forced labourers. And for much of the Soviet occupation and GDR it was the location of an immigrant and returnee reception centre.

Blankenfelde is a rural community with single-family homes. Much of the locality consists of farm fields and only the central area is densely populated. It borders the neighboring state of Brandenburg to its north and is not easily accessible with public transport beyond one bus line, the 107. 

Buch

  • How to get there:
    S-Bhf. Berlin-Buch: S-Bahn: S2 Bus: 150, 158, 259, 353, 893, N58
  • Remarkable places: Schlosspark Buch, Schlosskirche Buch

While the village of Buch was founded in 1347 on the Panke River, the area has a long history of settlement ranging back as far as the Stone Age. The name Buch is a result of some of this history, for the area was settled by Slavic tribes long before the German settlers came during the eastward expansion (Ostsiedlung). While Buch now seems to mean “book” in modern German, it actually is derived from the Slavic Polabian word for a beech tree (“buk”). Buch was the location of several medical facilities which were built in the late 19th century and led to the village developing into a sizeable town. In the aftermath of World War I, housing communities were built to accommodate the increased demand. While many of the surrounding villages have retained their small village charm, Buch was greatly altered in the 1970’s with the building of many apartment blocks. 

Today, Buch is a thriving community which is continuing to grow. There are many apartment blocks and some single-family homes in the southeast; the rest of the locality is farmland and forest. Buch is one of the least-expensive areas to rent in the city of Berlin and has an easy connection to the centre of the city with the S-Bahn. It is a rural and quiet community with easy access to natural beauty within the locality and in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg.

Französisch Buchholz 

  • How to get there:
    Französisch Buchholz Kirche: Tram: 50 Bus: N50
  • Remarkable places: Dorfkirche Französisch Buchholz, Kossätenhof in Französisch Buchholz

Likely founded in the early 13th century, Französisch Buchholz was first documented in 1242. In 1670 the area became the possession of the Elector Friedrich Wilhelm. After the Thirty Years War, the area’s population and the infrastructure was devastated and as a result of the Edict of Potsdam in 1685 the town was turned into a “French Colony” by the settlement of the Huguenots. These French farmers brought with them many plants which were previously unknown in the area such as cauliflower, asparagus, artichokes, and various herbs and fruit trees. Around 1750 the area became known as Französisch Buchholz and became a popular excursion location for Berliners. During World War I, due to anti-French sentiment, the area was renamed Berlin-Buchholz and it was only in the late 1990’s that the original name was returned. 

Französisch Buchholz is a small rural community with private garden allotments (Kleingartenanlagen) and single-family homes. Along Rosenthaler Weg there are some modern apartment buildings. It is easily accessible by car as the motorway A114 is at its eastern border. Public transport options, however, are limited as it is only serviced by the tram and bus lines. Due to its relative remoteness from the inner city, rental prices in Französisch Buchholz are lower than the Berlin average.

Niederschönhausen

  • How to get there
    Tschaikowskistraße: Tram: M1 Bus: 107, 250
  • Remarkable places: Schönhausen Palace, Friedenskirche, Schlosspark, Sowjetisches Ehrenmal (Schönholzer Heide)

Another of the many villages around Berlin founded during the eastward expansion (Ostsiedlung) of the 13th century, Niederschönhausen differs from its neighbors due to the attention it received from Prussian royalty. Estates were purchased by the Elector Frederick III (later Frederick I, King of Prussia) and he built a manor house in the Baroque style as a Hohenzollern residence. His consort Elisabeth Christine lived there until her death in 1797. In the early 20th century, former grounds of the palace became known for its mansions. As the palace and surrounding area was only lightly damaged during World War II, Schönhausen Palace became the seat of the East German President from 1949 and later, a guest house of the East German government. It was also the location of the Two Plus Four Agreement (Zwei-plus-Vier-Vertrag) which paved the way for German reunification. Now, the adjacent premises are the home of the German Federal Academy for Security Policy and the palace has been restored to its original Baroque condition and is one of the few Berlin palaces to have survived the war unscathed.

Niederschönhausen is a green locality with many parks to the south as well as some private garden allotments (Kleingartenanlagen). There is a mix between mansions, new and old apartment blocks, and single-family homes. Rental prices are mixed depending on the type of residence, but apartments tend to be lower than the Berlin average. Public transport is limited to tram and bus services, though S-Bahn stops are nearby in bordering localities of Reinickendorf and Heinersdorf.

Rosenthal

  • How to get there
    Rosenthal Kirche: Bus 124
    Hauptstraße/Friedrich-Engels-Straße: Tram: M1 Bus: 122, 124, N53
  • Remarkable places: Dorfkirche Rosenthal, Gutshaus Rosenthal

Rosenthal was first settled in the early 13th century and documented in 1356 as the village of “Rosendalle”. The local village church was built in 1250 and many of the nearby buildings are from the 19th century. For much of its history, parts of Rosenthal were the location of sewage farms for the city of Berlin. This has now been turned into a nature reserve with walking trails. From 1906 until 1932, it was the location of a factory which built turbines and electric cars (“Protos”).  

Rosenthal remains a small, urban-suburban community with primarily small garden allotments, single-family homes, and some apartment buildings. It is known for its yearly festival, the Rosenthaler Herbst (Rosenthal Autumn), which is a fair with musical acts, arts and crafts shows, and fireworks. Rosenthal has limited public transport as it is only served by tram and bus and has low rental prices.

Wilhelmsruh

  • How to get there
    S-Bhf. Berlin-Wilhelmsruh: S-Bahn: S1, S85 Bus 122
  • Remarkable places: Wilhelmsruh station, Wilhelmsruher See

Wilhelmsruh began as a villa colony built in the late 19th century to accommodate the growing population of Berlin. In 1894, the village received the name Wilhelmsruh (William’s Rest). The area was further developed into the 20th century due to the construction of the nearby factory Bergmann Elektrizitätswerke. During World War II, the factory was used to produce armaments, and was largely destroyed by allied bombings. After 1945, Wilhelmsruh became part of the Soviet sector and the factory was partially reconstructed. With the construction of the Berlin Wall, the locality became almost an enclave as it was surrounded on three sides by West Berlin territories. The S-Bahn line was shut down and the area was only accessible by bus. With the opening of the free market after reunification, the Bergmann factory began to do poorly and this had a negative effect on the socio-economic status of the community. Single family homes and townhouses were built in the 1990s and the population increased for the first time after years of stagnation. 

Wilhelmsruh is the third smallest locality in Berlin located in the northwestern part of the district of Pankow. To the west is the industrial area of the locality and rest is comprised of mostly single-family homes and apartment blocks. Wilhelmsruh is quite green and has several small parks. It is an affordable and quiet community with easy access to the city centre.

Further Information