Until German reunification in 1990, it would have been accurate to describe Berlin-Kreuzberg as one of Berlin’s poorer districts. But since that momentous event, Kreuzberg’s fortunes have turned a corner. Its cultural diversity, once rather frowned upon, is now viewed through different eyes and considered to be a colorful asset that helps support Kreuzberg’s dynamic arts scene. ‘Gentrification’ is the term analysts now use, perhaps acknowledging that Kreuzberg’s inhabitants may be characterful, but they are also settled and proud of their legacy. Thus, it will be no surprise to learn Kreuzberg is the only Berlin district where a majority of voters support the Green Party’s counterculture objectives.
After Germany’s industrialization program of the 1860s, Kreuzberg rapidly became Berlin’s most densely populated district – whilst still remaining the smallest in area. A considerable amount of the housing stock, such as the housing in the Wilhelmine Ring, dates from the extensive building of that era. Real estate in the area reflects aspects of Kreuzberg’s past and present, with historical homes being renovated to modern standards, and new-build projects focusing on climate-friendly efficiency. As elsewhere in Berlin, most Kreuzberg sites have risen sharply in value in recent times. This persistent high demand for apartments for sale in Kreuzberg, whether for a move in ready apartment in Kreuzberg or some other configuration, has gradually eroded minor, street-to-street price differentiations.
In Kreuzberg, the housing density in many quarters is extremely high. Yet even where pricing has created a certain feeling of parity, there is still a discernable difference in ambiance between one neighborhood and the next. Many regard the Kreuzberg quarters south of Skalitzer Strasse and Gitschiner Strasse as essentially chicer and bourgeois. Furthermore, the Bergmann-Kiez and Graefe-Kiez, with their Parisian-style streets, have a definite appeal for international buyers. Other Kreuzberg sites with small, village-style appeal include the Wrangelkiez, the area around Engelbecken Park, and the environs of the Oranienstrasse and the Mariannenplatz. Kreuzberg also has some larger quarters such as the blocks along either side of the Prinzenstrasse, mostly built around the 1970s. More recently, this same locality has also brought forth some tasteful, medium-sized building projects.
There’s no escaping the fact that real estate prices in Kreuzberg are in the upper part of the range for Berlin. Thus, the market reports that the average price for all kinds of existing Kreuzberg properties completed prior to 2015 is around €6,430 per square meter – considerably above the all-Berlin average. And those perhaps seeking a 2-room apartment in Kreuzberg, or a 3-room apartment in Kreuzberg, should be aware that, more recently, Kreuzberg flats have been listed at an average price per square meter of around €6,500. Likewise, for new-build real estate, the 12-month average stands at €9,090 per square meter, with prices in the most recent quarter realizing something more like €9,150 per square meter.
Named after the highest hill in the district (217 feet above sea level), Kreuzberg is a modern Berlin neighborhood that was only brought into being by the Greater Berlin Act of 1920. Yet those unfamiliar with Berlin may still ask: Where is Kreuzberg? Lying just south of Berlin-Mitte, Kreuzberg has the River Spree as its eastern border, and the Landwehrkanal watercourse bisects the district from east to west. Ever since the late 19th century, the Kreuzberg area has been a focus for migrants. Together with Berlin’s rapid growth, this quickly transformed the district from a quiet semi-rural locale into a busy, crowded inner city area. After the post-war settlement, Kreuzberg found itself hemmed in by the Berlin Wall on three sides. And in international terms, Kreuzberg’s identity was probably defined by the setting up of Checkpoint Charlie, the most important gateway between East and West Berlin.
Kreuzberg’s Victoria Park is an urban parkland on Kreuzberg hill, topped by a Napoleonic War memorial placed there in 1815 by King Frederick William III of Prussia. During the summer, an artificial waterfall activates below the monument and flows spectacularly downhill. There are vineyards on adjacent hill slopes where the local “Kreuz-Neroberger” wine is produced. As befits a relatively new borough, Kreuzberg-Berlin is defined by its diverse young culture. The enduring historical home of Berlin’s punk rock scene, Kreuzberg has also become a byword for its vibrant arts subculture, new wave thinking, and alternative experimental lifestyles. Kreuzberg’s annual Carnival of Cultures is a huge festival that celebrates all the town holds dear.
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