Welcome back to the fifth part of this article series, where I’ll be taking you on a virtual tour of Berlin’s 12 Bezirke and introducing you to each district’s history, reputation and attractions. Today’s article will take us to the bustling and vibrant district of Mitte. As the name suggests, Mitte is located in the centre of Berlin, so it is unsurprising that the area is home to so many of the capital’s most popular tourist spots.
Berlin Mitte. Photo: noelsch via Pixabay
Berlin’s most central borough consists of 6 subdivisions: Mitte proper, Gesundbrunnen, Hansaviertel, Moabit, Tiergarten, and Wedding. Approximately 383,000 people live in Mitte, which borders Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf in the west and Pankow in the east.
As is the case with Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Mitte was formerly divided between East and West Berlin, and the historical traces of this divide are still visible across the borough. A better-known example of this is the cobblestone path that runs across the Brandenburg Gate, showing where the wall once stood. This is the result of the district’s East Berlin section being almost completely surrounded by the Berlin Wall between 1961 and 1989.
Checkpoint Charlie, one of Berlin’s most famous control points during the Cold War, is located between Kreuzberg and Mitte. It was operated by the United States Army and was used by both foreigners and diplomats.
Checkpoint Charlie. Photo: RedTusk via Pixabay
Berlin’s Mitte district contains some of the city’s most historically significant landmarks (Unter den Linden, Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower, to name a few), whilst also constituting the political core of the capital. The Reichstag, Paul Löbe Haus and German Chancellery can all be found here.
These buildings make up the Band des Bundes (Federal Ribbon), which connects East and West through the River Spree. Unsurprisingly, many embassies are also located in this area, specifically in the historic embassy quarter to the south of Tiergarten park.
Some of Berlin’s most famous streets and boulevards are located in Mitte. Unter den Linden, for example, connects the East’s Alexanderplatz to the West’s Brandenburg Gate, continuing as Straße des 17. Juni towards the Victory Column.
Unter den Linden and the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: Bill Kasman via Pixabay
As of 2010, approximately 44.5% of the district’s population has a migration background. This amount is even higher in the former West Berlin areas of Wedding, Gesundbrunnen and Moabit, totaling approximately 70% of the population.
The district’s political spectrum is fairly varied, but the SPD, Greens and the Left continue to be the strongest parties in this area. As of 2021, Berlin Mitte is represented by Hanna Steinmüller of the Greens.
Things to do:
Some of Mitte’s most popular attractions have already been mentioned in this article, but another site worth visiting (and one that you will inevitably encounter on travels across the city) is Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Berlin’s Central Station is a hub for inter-city and regional train connections but can also be the starting point for trips to Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, France, Russia and Poland.
According to Visit Berlin, Berlin Hauptbahnhof is ‘one of the most spectacular architectural projects of the capital.’ The station was re-opened in 2006 after 11 years of construction and is now celebrated as the largest and most modern connecting station in Europe.
Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Photo: stummer-he via Pixabay
Because Mitte is so popular amongst tourists, you’ll have to do a lot of research and exploration of your own if you’re wanting to fit in with the locals. Here are a few hidden gems to get you started…
While most tourists are already familiar with the Tiergarten (Berlin’s most popular inner-city park), fewer people are aware of the James Simon Park, which is the perfect location for relaxing with friends in the summer and momentarily escaping the city’s sometimes overwhelming atmosphere. You can even spot the TV Tower in the distance, rising high above the park’s surrounding buildings.
James Simon Park. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0
The Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt is one of Berlin’s 170 museums. Located in a workshop where blind and deaf Jews used to work, the museum documents the life of Otto Weidt during the Third Reich, who protected a number of his staff from deportation during the Second World War. With black and white photographs, old letters, poems and postcards hanging on the walls, the museum is an absolute must for anyone wanting to learn more about the experiences of individuals during the war.
Berlin was recognised as the vegan capital of the world in 2017 and is home to hundreds of diverse restaurants and cafes. Brammibal’s Donuts, located near Alexanderplatz, was founded in 2015 and offers delicious plant-based donuts – a great place to stop at for a sweet treat at the end of a long day of exploring!
And that was your brief introduction to the district of Mitte! Our next stop will be Neukölln…