GERMANY – To fully understand Berlin, one has to understand how spacious it is. This means that some districts are so far from each other that they could almost be in different countries, both visually and culturally.
To many Berliners, this also means that many other parts of the city are full of the wrong kind of Berliner. Various West Berliners had warned be of one such place, a wasteland of eastern-block apartment buildings full of racist hooligans and Russians. I’m talking of course about the far-eastern borough of Morder, oops… I mean Marzahn.
Now as far from hip as possible in Berlin (outside Spandau), Marzahn was built in the 1970’s as a new home for residents of then deteriorating (but now infamously gentrified) central-eastern districts such as Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain.
Anyway, its reputation and history were reason enough for me take my bike on one of the first nice spring days of 2018 (April 7) and go and have a look!
Leaving from my then home near Schönholz station, my bike ride first took me through Pankow, which as usual, is rather nice.
Blankenburg S-Bahn station:
The former village of Blankenburg (now Alt-Blankenburg):
This part of Berlin (which is still part of Pankow) is pretty empty. Looking across farmland towards Hohenschönhausen (part of the borough of Lichtenberg):
The people who have allotments here would like to keep it that way though. This sign reads ‘5000 homes are already too many. They’re playing a wicked game with us! Traffic solution?’:
Crossing one of Berlin’s many dead-end railway lines, which used to be used to transport freight around the city’s industrial areas:
The former village of Heinersdorf (which is still part of Pankow):
Heinersdorf water tower, which was built in 1910, and apparently also used as the municipal hall:
Another dead-end railway line on the edge of the neighbourhood of Weissensee (which was a borough until it was merged with Pankow in 2001):
The Weisser See (‘White Lake’):
Marzahn (& Lichtenberg)
Continuing eastwards thorugh the borough of Lichtenberg, where I got my first glimpse of communist apartment buildings from the 1970’s and ’80’s:
Four more kilometres of ever more extensive (and spacious) neighbourhoods of typical eastern-block apartment buildings brought me to Marzahn, which to me feels pretty isolated from Berlin and could have been somewhere a lot further east (despite being too orderly):
What I didn’t expect, is that there would also be so many streets of detached houses like this one:
The Agricultural Machine Park (Landwirtschaftlicher Maschinepark) next to the windmill:
The former village of Marzahn (now Alt-Marzahn), with new Marzahn in the background:
A WW1 monument (I had never noticed them before, but there are many more of them all over Berlin):
Leaving Marzahn the way I arrived:
In conclusion: though I did see three rough looking types with tattoos on their shaved heads, the majority of people I saw in Marzahn looked normal like they would anywhere else. And apart from Russians (of which there seem to be very many), I also saw a few non-European foreigners*, including a Muslim family. So as usual, it seems that it’s not as bad as you’re told!
* Marzahn and Lichtenberg are also know for their Vietnamese community, and there is a Vietnamese market in Lichtenberg.
Retrospectively posted on 2019-05-02.
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