Self-Guided Tour Berlin-Charlottenburg
START at U-Bahn Richard-Wagner-Platz (U 7)
Stop A – Cross Otto-Suhr-Allee and have a look at the huge building with the 89m (270 ft.) tower. This was Charlottenburg City Hall (Rathaus) when it opened in 1905 and Charlottenburg was still an independent (and rich) city. In 1920, Greater Berlin was established, and today Charlottenburg isn’t even a district of its own. The building is Art Nouveau and the ornaments look pretty medieval.
Stop B – Follow Richard-Wagner-Straße south and make a right into Haubachstraße. Stop at the intersection Wilmersdorfer Straße and have a look at the buildings. The smallest one, no 13 Haubachstraße is from 1800 and follows the order by Prussian King Frederick I from 1705 dictating how a single family dwelling had to look like. Left and right, no 18 Wilmersdorfer Straße and no 15 Haubachstraße are from the late 19th century and no 14 Haubachstraße is from 1730 and got an additional floor in 1880.
Stop C – Continue on Haubachstraße, turn right at Gierkezeile and find a little yellow church at Gierkeplatz, the Luisenkirche. The baroque church from 1712 was renovated in 1826 by the neo-classical architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel and named for Queen Luise (1774-1810), the most popular queen in the history of Prussia. Like many historic buildings in Berlin this is a postwar reconstruction.
Stop D – Gierkeplatz is a traffic circle for Gierkezeile and Schustehrusstraße. Find Schustehrusstraße, go East and see no 13, the Museum of Ceramics. The oldest building in Charlottenburg is from 1712 and had almost been illegally demolished in 1983 hadn’t the neighbors stopped the bulldozers.
Stop E – Turn around, pass by the church again and follow Schustehrusstraße until you arrive at a little park, the Schustehruspark (the funny name is for a former mayor of Charlottenburg). In the park you see a 19th-century-villa: The Villa Oppenheim. Built in 1881 as summer house (this part of Charlottenburg had been very calm then) by the wealthy Berlin Oppenheimer family, it is now the museum of the Berlin district Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf with exhibitions about Charlottenburg history and an interesting collection of paintings from around 1900 (“Berliner Sezession”). The Villa Oppenheim also has a nice café for a break from all the visiting.
Stop F – The villa is on Schloßstraße and you can already see Charlottenburg Palace or Schloss Charlottenburg. Turn right and walk until you arrive at the intersection of Schloßstraße and the broad street Spandauer Damm. Turn around and you see two symmetrical buildings with domed towers. Built in the 1850s for the casernes of the Garde du Corps of King Frederick William IV of Prussia, they were used as a school for the criminal police in the 20th century (under SS-influence during the 3rd Reich). Today they house three museums: In the “Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg” you find works from the Surrealist period in the early 20th century: René Magritte, Salvador Dalí or Max Ernst and their predecessors in the 19th century. If you are more into Pablo Picasso or Paul Klee, Paul Cézanne or Henri Matisse, go across the street in the “Museum Berggruen”. The “Bröhan-Museum” next door specializes on Art Nouveau and Art Déco art and objects. Find not only paintings, but also furniture, china and many interesting special exhibits. All the three museums emerged from private collections and are named for the collectors.
Stop G – Now it’s time to cross the Spandauer Damm and find Schloss Charlottenburg. The center with the dome and the equestrian statue of “Der Große Kurfürst ” (the great elector) is the oldest part, construction started in 1695. Queen Sophie Charlotte, the 2nd wife of Elector Frederick III, from 1705 on King Frederick I (not the guy from the equestrian statue!), had a little summer palace built, far away from what was Berlin back then. The palace grew with the generations of kings that used it. Namely Frederick II a.k.a. Frederick the Great enlarged the building only to decide later that he preferred Potsdam anyway … The palace can be visited and because it is so big, they offer different tickets for different parts of it. As it was damaged during WWI, the furniture is not always the original one that the Prussian kings and queens used, but they are from the respective centuries.
Stop H – Behind the palace is the huge Charlottenburg Park. The part closest to the palace is in the baroque style, then it becomes more like an English landscape park. In the park are some smaller buildings, like the Belvedere with a collection of China or the mausoleum for the popular Queen Luise Charliottenburg Park is ca good place for a picnic near the river Spree.