Berlin is a city with history: If Paris is the City of Love, Berlin truly is the City of History, a constant reminder of the terrible and recent past of Germany and Europe. Nowadays, we can still breathe its history and be reminded of it as we walk along its streets, and that is possible thanks to spots such as Checkpoint Charlie, which was the busiest crossing point between the two Berlins, East Berlin and West Berlin, during the Cold War. Besides, it was the only crossing point for foreigners and Allies.
Checkpoint Charlie was also the place where many tried to cross without their permission – some escaped the authorities, but some met their end trying to do so. Checkpoint Charlie may nowadays be a little place visited now in a crowded commercial street (Friedrichstrasse), but it witnessed many heart-breaking stories before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Checkpoint Charlie has also appeared in many films and books, especially of the spy genre. It is definitely a must-visit if you travel to the capital of Germany.
Checkpoint Charlie is still a border nowadays: between the district of Mitte, the city centre, and Kreuzberg, a district known for being cosmopolite and home of many immigrants and descendants of immigrants, most of them Turkish. It is also one of the youngest neighbourhoods in Berlin, thanks to the cultural atmosphere. Still, the neighbourhood of Kreuzberg is also known by the low average income and the unemployment.
Around the apartments near Checkpoint Charlie you will mainly find offices, shops and other tourist accommodations, so when discussing the neighbours in the area it is way more interesting to go a few years back and think about the people who used to be around there before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Checkpoint Charlie is located in one of the commercial streets of the centre of Berlin, Friedrichstrasse. There, you will find many famous haute-couture brands like Gucci, Hugo Boss or Emporio Armani. You will also find the wonderful bookshop Dussman KulturKaufhaus, and many other shops as well.
Checkpoint Charlie is also near one of the biggest and newest shopping centres of Berlin, the Mall of Berlin, which was inaugurated in 2014. There you will find the shops you miss in Friedrichstrasse, as well as some entertainment stores like Saturn and a Toys’ R’ Us. It may also be a better option if you’re looking for more affordable brands.
Berlin is a huge city, and you will need to use its main transportation systems, the metro, called U-Bahn, and the train, called S-Bahn. To use them, you can buy a combined ticket of the three different price areas of the city, AB or ABC. Besides, they include the other transportation options available: the tramway and the bus. If you need to travel from Checkpoint Charlie, you will have to go to the metro station U Kochstr./Checkpoint Charlie, of the line U6, which will communicate you with the neighbourhood of Kreuzberg as well. However, Checkpoint Charlie is fairly close to the city centre, and you can easily walk up Fiedrichstrasse and you’ll end up right between the Museum Island and the Brandenburg Gate. If you want to walk around the charming neighbourhood of Kreuzberg, you can also walk down Friedrichstrasse and you will be there in a short time.
You can visit Checkpoint Charlie just by walking past it: you will be able to see the little part of the Wall where it was located, the border checkpoint and a replica of the signed that warned the Berliners that they were leaving American premises. Besides, next to it you will find the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, which is the Berlin Wall Museum. Besides, Checkpoint Charlie is a great middle point between Kreuzberg and the city centre, which means you will be at walking distance of many other tourist attractions of the City of Berlin: The Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and the Museum Island, as well as the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial.
After visiting Checkpoint Charlie, you will be in a great location to go shopping along Friedrichstrasse. Besides, you will be in the neighbourhood of Kreuzberg, a wonderful neighbourhood full of bars, cafes, art galleries and designers’ shops. If you’ve already visited the city centre, Kreuzberg will be a completely different experience.
Near Checkpoint Charlie, you will find a great place where to eat the typical currywurst: Checkpoint Curry 207, one of the best places to try the currywurst sausage according to the locals. If you’re in the mood for something fancier, you can try the vegetarian Asian restaurant Tim Raue, where you will be able to enjoy a really delicious meal. And, for lunch, you can try Johnny’s Bar, which offers German and fusion food in the friendliest possible atmosphere.
If you’ve decided to go into Kreuzberg, you can try a kebab there. Thanks to Turkish immigration in Berlin, kebab is one of Berlin’s most typical foods, and Kreuzberg is definitely the place to try it. There are plenty of delicious places around!
Berlin is not only famous for its rich and fascinating history, it is also famous thanks to its nightlife. Berlin is a Mecca for techno fans, as it offers some of the best clubs in Europe, like Berghain and Watergate. But around the apartments near Checkpoint Charlie, you will be closer to Asphalt, a small and more eclectic club where you will be able to dance to electronic music from minimal techno to disco. However, after visiting a landmark like Checkpoint Charlie you may be in the mood for a quieter drink. There is a perfect location for that right there in Friedrichstrasse: Charlie’s Beach, a great restaurant-café-bar with a wonderful terrace mimicking a beach. Especially good when the weather’s good, at Charlie’s Beach you will be able to relax as you weren’t expecting to in Berlin!