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Kurfürstendamm dates back to the 16th century when Electoral Prince Joachim II constructed a path connecting his palace on Unter den Linden with his hunting lodge in Grunewald forest. In the late 19th century, Bismarck transformed the simple street into a prestigious boulevard lined by stunning town houses. Destroyed during the World War II and rebuilt in the ensuing decades, Kurfürstendamm is no longer the beauty it once was. Yet 'Ku'damm,' as Berliners affectionately call it, is still a symbol of wealth and prosperity.
The first section of Schloßstraße is characterized by beautiful bourgeois houses with turrets and ornate gable roofs. Yet it is the section between the Bierpinsel and Forum Steglitz that Schloßstraße is most famous for. Even though Schloßstraße isn't as recognizable as Kurfürstendamm or Friedrichstraße, it is still one of Berlin's most popular shopping streets. Out here, shoppers will find all that they can dream of - ritzy department stores, small family-run shops, fashion boutiques, supermarkets, banks, restaurants and a multi-screen cinema, Titania Palast. Schloßstraße has two or three U-Bahn stations, the most interesting of which is Schloßstraße station itself, a prime example of garish 1970's architecture.
Arkonaplatz is a little square at the border of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg that is just a few minutes walk away from the famous Mauerpark. While many people visit the Mauerpark market on Sundays, this hidden gem isn't even half as crowded. The prices might not be cheaper, but the quality is generally better. From furniture and antiques to clothes and records, almost everything sold at Arkonaplatz is of better quality than on the bigger markets. Moreover, the square itself is a nice place to hang out on a Sunday since you are surrounded by cafés and restaurants, which are definitely worth a try.
Over the years, Mulackstraße has emerged as one of the most popular shopping districts in Berlin. Located in Mitte district, this street is lined with great businesses, shops and boutiques like Lala Berlin, Weisser Laden, C’est Tout and Butterfly Soulfire, to name a few. Apart from this, there are bigger names like Adidas, Lee, Converse, and among many others that call Mulackstraße home. Usually abuzz with locals and tourists on a serious shopping mission, this street is a must visit when in Berlin.
In the early 19th Century, Hackescher Markt was still a muddy swamp situated outside Berlin's city gates. Yet as the industrial revolution gained hold, new businesses and booming industries set up shop here, bringing wealth and prosperity to the whole area. Hackescher Markt's main claim to fame, however, is its S-Bahn station. Constructed at the height of the railway boom in the late 19th Century, with a red-tiled facade, mosaics and rounded windows, this is one of Berlin's most attractive stations. Originally known as Bahnhof Börse because of its proximity to the Berlin Stock Exchange, the square in front of the station was renamed Marx-Engels-Platz by party apparatchiks during the socialist era. Nowadays, the station is used primarily by visitors to the nearby Hackesche Höfe complex, a labyrinth of courtyards brimming with cafès, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. A cinema, theater and the Oranienburger Straße nightlife strip complete the list of attractions in this increasingly popular district.
Friedrichstraße is Berlin's answer to the Champs Elysées, Oxford Street and Fifth Avenue, a vibrant melting pot where history, culture, entertainment and fashion meet. Before the fall of the Wall, the southern section of Friedrichstraße was located in the West, and the northern part in the East. Beginning at Mehringplatz in Kreuzberg, the three kilometer-long (1.86 miles) street leads through the heart of the city centre, past the former border crossing at Checkpoint Charlie, to Oranienburger Tor, Berlin's pulsating nightlife district. Historically, the area around Stadtmitte underground station used to be Berlin's premier shopping district. The crossroads at Leipziger Straße were lined with swanky boutiques before wartime bombs left their deadly mark. The new shopping district is now centered around Französische Straße underground station, and includes the fabulous Galeries Lafayette, the exclusive Quartier 206 and the awe-inspiring Friedrichstadtpassagen shopping mall - three of Berlin's new architectural highlights. The northern section of the street leads into theatre town. A magnet for theatre-goers since the 19th century, visitors still pour into places like the Friedrichstadtpalast, Berliner Ensemble, Deutsches Theater and Kammerspiele.
The original Alexanderplatz, locally called 'Alex' by Berliners, was completely flattened during World War II. Its present day appearance is a prime example of East German town planning: a huge, windswept pedestrian area surrounded by featureless 1960s high-rises. But those who are familiar with Alexanderplatz from Alfred Döblin's novel of the same name will find that none of the hustle and bustle of the square has disappeared. Alexanderplatz is still very much a commuters' thoroughfare and is regarded by locals as the true center of Berlin. Named after Russian Tsar Alexander I who visited the Prussian capital in 1805, Alexanderplatz was at the center of the mass-demonstrations which brought the Berlin Wall tumbling down in November 1989.