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Hot Places
places worth revisiting
Friedrichstrasse, Berlin, Germany


Freidrichstrasse Railway Station August 2003. Photo SBL

I cannot think of anywhere you feel the heartbeat of modern Europe as you do in the cosmopolitan Friedrichstrasse, Berlin. Named after the famous Prussian king Friedrich der Grosse (Friedrich the Great), king in the time of absolutism and enlightenment. He was coached by the French philosopher Voltaire. The railway station (Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse) has served East-West and North-South traffic, leading to all corners of Europe. One U-line (underground), six S-lines (four elevated, two underground) are passing as well. Before World War 2 it was a busy street. 

During the Cold War Friedrichstrasse was a dull street with big scars from the war and with crossing points between East and West: Check Point Charlie in one end and the railway check point at Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse in the other. At this Bahnhof I have been waiting for hours while the East German police searched the train with dogs. At the underground U-bahn station Westerns were able to go under East Berlin without visa and buy tax-free, because East Germany was desperate for hard currency. Now times are changing. The area has been a tremendous building site for several years. Fashion shops, five star hotels and department stores are opening in this famous and busy street, which to me is a symbol of the dramatic history of Europe in the 20th century.

During the Cold War the station was divided in two sections, East and West. Here is the "West-platform" - Mailto: