Victoriastadt in Lichtenberg, Berlin
Welcome to Kaskelkiez
The edgy, bohemian glamour of Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg has long been drawing people to the east of Berlin. But lesser known areas are just as attractive. Nestled between railway tracks in Lichtenberg is a gem hidden in the middle of central Berlin. Just beyond Ostkreuz and Kynaststrasse, you have the chance to discover one of the most laidback residential areas of the city: Victoriastadt.
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Oasis on the Rummelsburger Bucht
Victoriastadt, also called Kaskelkiez, can be found in the area surrounding Kaskelstrasse in the district of Lichtenberg. The neighbourhood is completely surrounded by railway lines. The fact that it can only be reached through underpasses (and via Kynaststrasse) gives it a secure and almost intimate character. To the north, the view is dominated by the prefabricated buildings of the southern parts of Frankfurter Allee. This is contrasted to the south by Rummelsburg Bay, whose idyllic banks are the perfect place for walks, picnics or sporting activities. Friedrichshain, with its bars, cafés and nightlife, is located directly to the west, while Lichtenberg’s increasingly popular Weitlingkiez is to the east. Due to its proximity to its popular neighbour, Victoriastadt is often lovingly called "Klein-Friedrichshain", "Lichtenhain", or "Friedrichsberg" by the locals.
After the area was largely spared from destruction during the Second World War, it now shines with an inviting fin-de-siècle architectural aesthetic, with plenty of motifs alluding to a bygone era of factory production and worker settlements. The first residential buildings here were built in the 1870s when several factories were opened in the immediate vicinity. The Rummelsburg wool and fur manufacturers Anton and Albert Lehmann acquired the area in 1871 and gave it the name Victoriastadt (Victoria City) due to its close connection to the United Kingdom and Queen Victoria.
Being named after a foreign monarch, which is unique in Berlin's architectural history, is far from the only noteworthy feature of the neighbourhood. Thanks to the testing of new construction methods by Berliner Cement Bau AG, the first concrete housing estate in the world was built here. However, of the 50 to 70 houses built at that time, only six still exist today. Other impressive sights to see in Kaskelkiez/Victoriastadt include the 40 metre-tall Shotgun tower (Schrotkugelturm) on Nöldnerstrasse. Built in 1908, the tower stands today as a monument to the industrial culture that gave shape to the area. The building used to host a smelter of seamless lead balls, and was in use through the GDR period. Today the building is a protected historic monument.
Environmental and social protection
As the beautiful neighbourhood became more and more popular, Berlin's government took action in 2017 to protect not only the historic buildings, but also the long-time residents. Placed under environmental protection, renovations and conversion of rental apartments into luxury residences is now restricted in order to prevent social displacement. Renovations around Kaskelstrasse are only allowed if they meet the minimum standard of the Energy Saving Ordinance (Energieeinsparverordnung). This prevents tenants and local facilities from being displaced by gentrification measures. That being said, Victoriastadt's vicinity to Friedrichshain and its transformation into an area not unlike its hip neighbour has led to an growing population of young residents with higher incomes. Art film video stores, bike shops, shared apartments, cool cafés, and trendy bars have attracted an influx of hipsters, making Kaskelkiez an increasingly popular area.
Shopping, dining, and entertainment
Victoriastadt has started competing with neighbouring Friedrichshain with the amount of dining and leisure opportunities it provides. You could easily spend an entire day eating, shopping, and strolling around the charming streets. What better way to start a morning than with a balanced breakfast? Head to Canapé for some of their delicious organic breads, cakes and other baked goods. Whether you have breakfast on site or at home, you can aid digestion with a constitutional stroll across Tuchollaplatz, where weekly markets are regularly held, and through the small but leafy Türschmidtpark. For lunch, why not take a culinary journey into Vietnamese cuisine at Vitoria Bistro? Afterwards, pop in to the bookshop Paul + Paula where you can not only discover your new favourite book, but also listen to exciting readings from time to time.
Afternoon coffee and cake should definitely be at Nadia + Kosta. Should there still be room in your stomach after that, and particularly if the sun is shining, you shouldn't miss a scoop of wonderful homemade ice cream at SchokoLadenEis Manufaktur. Following a superb German-Mediterranean meal in the evening at Jelänger Jelieber, a beer in Der kleine Kneipe (The Small Pub) on Tuchollaplatz tastes especially good. Those who still don't want to see the sun go down, at least not before their inner eye, can turn night into day at Polygon club adjacent to Victoriastadt.
Despite its small size, with just over 3,500 inhabitants, Victoriastadt has a lot to offer, both historically and in terms of cultural and gastronomic attractions. It is not for nothing that it is sometimes called "mini Friedrichshain" - with one decisive advantage: it is nowhere near as crowded as its much better-known neighbour. It's growing popularity and increasing youthful population make it an extremely promising area for investment. Check out available apartments in Lichtenberg below!