West Berlin glamour at Kurfürstendamm

One of Berlin’s most iconic boulevards is the Kurfürstendamm, a legend shaped during its years as THE address to go in former West Berlin. While tourists now favour the historical districts in the East, the Kurfürstendamm remains an evocative area to explore.

For most visitors, the Kurfürstendamm boulevard centres on the shops surrounding the Europa Centre (Berlin’s highest skyscraper, opened in 1965) and the ruins of the Memorial Church. But for Berliners, the area still nostalgically recalls the West Berlin golden years, as the half-city firmly anchored itself to the Western world.

From the 1880s onwards, the Kurfürstendamm took its inspiration from the Champs Elysees in Paris. It soon became the home for fashion, chic restaurants and hotels, a role confirmed during its West Berlin years. Many buildings still evoke Kurfürstendamm’s opulence. Walk along the section between Uhlandstrasse and Leibnitzstrasse to admire the majestic 19th and 20th century architecture. A great place for a break is the House of Literature (Literaturhaus) in Fasanenstrasse 23. The mansion used to welcome Russian poets in the 1920s and now houses literature events, a bookshop and a charming nostalgic café. Opposite Fasanenstrasse, walk along Bleibtreustrasse in the direction of Savignyplatz. The area is lined by 19th century classical houses, home to local designers. It is also a place where West Berliners meet over a drink or a meal. Try 12 Apostel for its outstanding Italian food or NU for top Asian fusion food. Go to Restaurant Café Bleibtreu and Lubitsch for a German gastronomy experience. The first offers popular dishes while the second caters for the more upscale segment.

Looking at more reminiscences of West Berlin? Although the iconic Café Kranzler disappeared, its typical 1950s architecture now welcomes the Barn, a hipster coffee shop with a terrace providing a 180o view of the Kurfürstendamm. The coffee shop is accessible from Kranzler Eck Berlin. Other West Berlin institutions in the area are the Paris Bar in Kantstrasse 152, a meeting point of artists since the 1960s, and the former Kempinski Hotel Bristol Berlin – today the Bristol Berlin. The elegant hotel welcomed VIPs such as Sofia Loren, Alfred Hitchcock and Romy Schneider. It recently underwent renovation, and is once again the place to be seen in the western part of town.

Still having some energy to walk around? View a sunset from the top of the Europa Centre at Puro Sky Lounge – Beyonce and Lady Gaga were seen there! – or from the Roofbar at Hotel Zoo Berlin.