In the very north of Neukölln lies a fascinating, lively, diverse area known as Kreuzkölln. Lying just to the south of the border with Kreuzberg (hence the portmanteau Kreuzkölln), the area is generally synonymous with Reuterkiez, the Neukölln neighbourhood with Reuterplatz in its centre, though the borders are, like all good Kiezes, somewhat fluid and flow into Graefekiez, Donaukiez and Reichenberger Kiez. One thing is for sure, though; Kreuzkölln is emblematic of the change and development going on in many parts of Berlin.
The north-western edge of the area follows the border with Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, along the banks of the Landwehrkanal and Kottbusser Damm. Bustling Sonnenallee, with its myriad shops, restaurants and cafés, forms the border in the southwest, while in the southeast, Wildenbruchstraße and Kiehlufer are the boundaries to other parts of Neukölln.
Kreuzkölln covers around 70 hectares and, with almost 20,000 inhabitants, is one of the most densely populated areas in Berlin. The first commercial enterprises were established on Maybachufer around 1850, taking advantage of the connection provided by the newly-constructed Landwehr Canal. The area continued to develop and, between 1871 and 1905, a typical Berlin Altbau quarter was built, with workshops and industrial yards blending in with the residential character of the neighbourhood.
The prosperity of Kreuzkölln declined and, until relatively recently, it was considered a problematic area, with high unemployment and low social mobility. In more recent years, however, the area’s development has mirrored that of Kreuzberg before it, and indeed Berlin as a whole. Unemployment fell from 30% in 2005 to 8% in 2015, and the area saw a lot of investment and enterprise, with countless boutiques, galleries and cafés opening. Kreuzkölln is now seen as one of the cooler, hipper places to live in the city and, along with Schillerkiez, is the main reason for Neukölln’s arrival as Berlin’s hottest district.
Almost half of Kreuzkölln’s residents are under-35, and almost half come from a non-native-German background, making it one of the youngest, most international neighbourhoods in the city. Though most streets are quiet, cobbled and residential, there are pockets of liveliness dotted throughout. Weserstrasse is the area’s party-mile, with plenty of bars of all type, from hip cocktail bars like Thelonious to traditional Eckkneipen like Rosel, an old-fashioned pub overflowing with character.
The international character of Kreuzkölln is reflected in its food, with everything from Sudanese to Japanese, via incredible Neapolitan pizza and perhaps the city’s best ceviche. Or if you’re more in the mood for a home-cooked meal, then check out the superb fresh produce on offer at the Turkish market on Maybachufer, every Tuesday and Friday.
Despite its reputation as one of the hippest areas in one of the world’s most fashionable cities, Kreuzkölln is refreshingly unpretentious. It is unostentatious, but deeply loved by its residents. Perhaps it’s time to consider a move here?