Did you know that the history behing the coolest Kiez in Berlin is way older than the vintage chair you are sitting on?
Walking through the streets of Neukölln, hand to hand with my terrible sense of direction, I could swear we were on the eastern part of the city. Concrete blocks, anti-capitalist street art, a street named after Karl Marx and a feeling that this place may have stopped in time. Opening my map in the middle of the street was not an option. Few things can annoy a berliner more than a tourist taking away their Kiez.
Luckily enough I was on the company of Anna, the owner of the blog Strollogy Berlin, who researches and tell the stories of forgotten places in town. She was our guide for the day. Myself, an English artist, a Belgian student and an Ipad filled with pictures from the last centuries.
Although Neukölln was one of the only neighbourhoods who never voted for the National Socialistic party (the other one was Wedding, if you were wondering), it was part of former West Berlin. When you get to know the city through souvenir shops and guide books it might be easy to forget that the history of Berlin goes beyond the Third Reich and the Cold War. No one had told me that the neighbourhood has a lot more than bars and cafés filled with vintage furniture and hipsters drinking beer.
In 1737, Neukölln was called Rixdorf and was just a small village given to the Bohemian exiles by the King of Prussia. The people started building their farms and houses around Richardstrasse, where even today you can still see the reminiscent of that era. As soon as you walk through the cobblestone streets, the noise of the cars on Karl-Marx-Strasse is gone, and you are instantly taken to a whole new hidden city where U-Bahns and Kebab stores don’t exist.
In the beginning of the 19th century, even before the unification of Germany, Rixdorf was already one of the biggest villages on the Prussian Kingdom, perfectly located on the way to its capital, Berlin.
The complex Neue Welt (which still exists, on a much smaller format and with a touch of currywurst), close to the Heisenheide Park, was famous for its musical shows, filled with women and alcohol. During the day, it was the meeting point of the German working class party. Decades later, it was one of the places that showed most resistance to the National Socialist party.
With the unification of the German country, Rixdorf became a part of Berlin and the number of visitors looking for entertainment was growing even more. As time went by, the reputation of the neighbourhood was so bad that they had to change it’s name. Neükolln was born.
Today you can still see bohemians fighting against capitalism on the streets of the former Rixdorf district. The only difference is that now they might prefer the bike other than the horse.
picture credit: http://litchi7.blogspot.com.br/