Districts of Berlin: Tempelhof-Schöneberg

Learn more about the district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg…

With six localities ranging from the inner-city to the rural borders of the neighbouring state Brandenburg, the district of Tempelhof-Schöneberg has a varied and interesting historical and cultural history which continues to influence it to this day. David Bowie, the Comedian Harmonists, Marlene Dietrich, Günter Grass and Billy Wilder all made the district their home and it continues to attract a wide variety of people from all walks of life. With relatively affordable rents considering its wide range of cultural activities and public transport options, Tempelhof-Schöneberg is becoming an increasingly popular choice for those looking for both urban and suburban options in Berlin.

Schöneberg

  • How to get there:
    Wittenberg Platz: U-Bahn: U1, U2, U3 Bus: M19, M29, M46, N1, N2, N3, N26
    Bayrischer Platz: U-Bahn: U4, U7 Bus: N7
    Nollendorfplatz: U-Bahn: U1, U2, U3, U4
  • Remarkable places: Rathaus Schöneberg, Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), Wittenberg Platz, Königskolonnaden, Gasometer Schöneberg

Like much of the outlying districts, Schöneberg has a long history as a village and was founded in the 13th century. In 1751, a new village was founded by Bohemian weavers and came to be known as Neu-Schöneberg or Boehmisch-Schöneberg. The two villages remained separate from one another until 1874. The area was heavily damaged by Russian and Habsburg troops during the Seven Year’s War in 1760, but was heavily redeveloped in the middle 19th century. Many poor residents made money from this development and built mansions on Hauptstraße. Schöneberg became an independent city in 1899 and was incorporated into the city of Berlin in 1920. During the partition of Germany, the historical Rathaus Schöneberg became the city hall of West Berlin and is the famous location where John F. Kennedy gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech in 1963.

Schöneberg is divided into several neighborhoods, each with their own distinct flavor, but two are the most historically significant: the Bavarian Quarter (Bayrisches Viertel) and the Red Island (Rote Insel). The Bavarian Quarter is in the western part of the locality, and is comprised of streets named after Bavarian cities. It is historically a wealthy area and continues to be one of the most sought-after residential areas in the city. Once one of the largest Jewish quarters of Berlin, the population was devastated by the Holocaust. In remembrance of this tragedy, the memorial “The Places of Remembrance in the Bavarian Quarter” (Orte des Erinnerns im Bayerischen Viertel) is now a focal point. In the northeast of Schöneberg is the Rote Insel, a large area which is separated from the rest of the locality by three S-Bahn tracks which make the area into a man-made island. The neighborhood was historically to the left politically (hence the “red” in its name) leading to clashes during the rise of National Socialism. The large Gasometer Schöneberg has become a landmark of the neighborhood.

Schöneberg is a locality that ranges from hustling inner-city to quieter urban residential with a wide range of cultural and social sights. Rental prices vary greatly throughout with Wittenbergplatz and Bayrischer Platz at the higher end, while the area to the south is significantly cheaper. The neighborhood of Nollendorfplatz has historically been considered the centre of the gay scene in Berlin since the 1920’s and is the host of Europe’s largest gay and lesbian festival. 

Friedenau

  • How to get there:
    U Friedrich-Wilhelm-Platz: U-Bahn: U9 Bus: 186, 246, N9
  • Remarkable places: Rathaus Friedenau, Kirche zum Guten Hirten

Unlike many of the localities of Berlin which began as villages in the 13th century, Friedenau was founded in 1871. After the Franco-Prussian War, some 50,000 people moved to Berlin creating a housing crisis. To resolve this problem, a large parcel of land was purchased from the manor Deutsch-Wilmersdorf and it was intended that the area be developed as affordable housing. Friedenau’s name comes from the German words for peace (frieden) and meadow (au). 

As Friedenau was a carefully planned community, it retains a uniform charm of late 19th and early 20th century architecture. The area is known for its buildings with small front gardens and the uniform layout of its streets. It is a quiet urban residential district, close to more popular nightlife areas. 

Tempelhof

  • How to get there
    S+U Tempelhof Berlin: S-Bahn: S41, S42, S45, S46, S47 U-Bahn: U6 Bus: 140, 184, N6, N84
  • Remarkable places: Tempelhofer Feld, Platz der Luftbrücke, Dorfkirche Tempelhof, UFA-Fabrik

Originally named Tempelhove, many scholars believe the Knights Templar founded a commandery (komturei), a small estate controlled by a military commander, in the area in the mid-13th century and it’s from the order that Tempelhof gets its name. The settlement consisted of a church and the estate and the surrounding area was developed by farmers from the Rhineland. When the Knights Templar order was abolished in 1312, Tempelhof was taken over by the knights of Saint John (called the Johanniter in Germany). The Johanniter controlled the area until 1435 when they sold the estate to the city of Berlin. Tempelhof remained a rural village outside of the urban areas of Berlin proper until the late 19th century when it was finally developed. A large piece of land, the Tempelhof Field (Tempelhofer Feld), was denoted as a parade ground for the military. The field later became an important place of aviation history and was eventually the location of the Tempelhof Airport (Flughafen Tempelhof). The airport was the location of the Berlin Airlift during the Berlin Blockade and outside of the grounds there is a memorial to the airmen who died in accidents during the airlift. 

Today, Tempelhof is a mix of housing estates, apartment blocks, parks, industrial sites, and shopping centres. There are many parks and green spaces, particularly since 2008 when the Tempelhof Airport was decommissioned and turned into a public field making it a popular spot for those who love windsports. Most of the residential areas are in the western part of the locality. The northwest is primarily a settlement of small family homes with gardens and the southwest are apartment blocks. The southeast mainly consists of industrial areas along the Teltow Canal (Teltowkanal). Tempelhof is easily accessible by public transport and can be an affordable inner-city option for those looking for centrality on a budget.

Mariendorf

  • How to get there
    Alt-Mariendorf: U-Bahn: U6
  • Remarkable places: Volkspark Mariendorf, Adlermühle, Dorfkirche Mariendorf

Like neighbouring locality Marienfelde, Mariendorf (which translates as “Mary’s Village”) was created in the 13th century by the Knights Templar as a subsidiary village to the nearby commandery the Komturei Tempelhof. It was later sold to the city of Berlin and it remained a small village for many years. In 1800, Mariendorf only had a population of 162 residents. Moving into the late 19th century and the southern part of the locality was developed as a mansion colony (Villenkolonie) which greatly increased the area’s population. In 1913, the harness racing track (Trabennbahn) was opened and in 1924 a public park was developed (Volkspark Mariendorf). 

Mariendorf has relatively low rents compared to the city average, but it is also rather remote and quiet. The northern part of the locality are mostly private garden allotments (Kleingartenanlage) and the rest of the area is largely a mix of single-family homes, apartment blocks, and to the west, industrial buildings. 

Marienfelde

  • How to get there
    Berlin-Marienfelde: S-Bahn: S2
    Buckower-Chaussee: S-Bahn: S2 Bus: 277, 710, 711, M11, X11
  • Remarkable places: Freizeitpark Marienfelde, Alt-Marienfelde, Dorfkirche Marienfelde

Marienfelde (Mary’s Field), like the similarly named Mariendorf, was a farming community developed by the Knights Templar. It was founded in the early 13th century and the local village church also originates from around that time. Marienfelde remained a small village for much of its history and only began to see an increase in population with the opening of the train station in 1875. In the late 19th century, a mansion colony was built called Neu Marienfelde, but much of this was severely damaged during World War II. After the war many houses and apartments were built and the area became characterized by its high-rise buildings and the housing estate of Waldsassener Straße. 

Marienfelde is a quiet and relatively inexpensive area of Berlin which retains some of its village charm in the area of Alt-Marienfelde near the village church (Dorfkirche Marienfelde), one of the oldest buildings in Berlin. While much of the southeastern part of the locality comprises of industrial buildings, the rest of the district is a mix of apartment blocks, single family homes, and a large public park (Freizeitpark Marienfelde).

Lichtenrade

  • How to get there
    S-Lichtenrade: S-Bahn: S2 Bus: 743
  • Remarkable places: Dorfkirche Lichtenrade, Mälzerei Lichtenrade Concentration Camp

Unlike the nearby settlements of Marienfelde, Tempelhof, and Mariendorf, Lichtenrade’s history does not begin with the settlement of Knights Templars, but with the German Eastern Expansion (Ostsiedlung) of the Margraves of Brandenburg. It was likely established in 1230, and was first mentioned in writing in 1375 as Lichtenrode. The locality was rural for much of its history, and did not develop beyond this until it was incorporated into the city of Berlin in 1920. During World War II, a branch of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was opened in Lichtenrade and housed primarily Ukrainian prisoners of war. There is now a memorial for the victims of the camp on Bornhagenweg.

Today, Lichtenrade is a green, suburban community primarily made up of single-family homes. The rental prices remain low, but it is a significant distance from the inner-city and is subsequently quieter than other areas of the district. Public transport can also be an issue, as only the eastern part of the locality has quick access to the S-Bahn. 

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