Alexanderplatz, East Berlin

Photo Catherine Gras

Before the great destruction of the Second World War, Alexanderplatz was at the centre of a very dense working-class district, where the police headquarters, nicknamed the Alex, were located.

There is not much left of it except for two buildings from the very early 1930s, designed by Peter Behrens, the Berolina and the Alexanderhaus. Peter Behrens is very well known in Berlin for his industrial buildings, notably for AEG (at the end of the post are two texts about AEG and Peter Behrens).

n the years of post-war reconstruction, the GDR regime turned it into a demonstration of East German urbanism, in the continuity of Stalinallee, which became Karl Marx Allee. A new centre that allowed the new regime to move away from the historic centre of Berlin, which was too marked by its Prussian and Nazi history.

This desire for symbolism is particularly evident in the television tower, completed in the early 1970s, which sends a strong message about the technical mastery required for a structure that will remain Berlin’s tallest building for a long time.

The square serves as a gathering place with meeting points such as the world clock and the fountain.

It is also a place for demonstrations, especially in the last days before the fall of the Wall, as these 2019 commemorations in light show.

Alexanderplatz is not the centre of the reunited Berlin but it is still a very active place, Berliners and tourists cross it by tram, SBahn, UBahn … I recommend the visit of the underground station with its pool coloured tiles.

The square is being reconfigured, with a building under construction which, when completed, should overtake the Park Inn hotel, which is also one of the tallest buildings in the city.

In its immediate surroundings, demolition work is also underway on the House of Statistics, one of the emblematic buildings at the western end of Karl Marx Allee. In Berlin, work is permanent, cranes are part of the landscape.

I have already written two posts on this district and its surroundings:

For those who want to know better the work of Peter Behrens for AEG in Berlin:

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