Discover Berlin: Torstrasse (Mitte)

Torstrasse Mitte near Rosenthaler Platz

Tram on Torstrasse near Rosenthaler Platz - Photo: T.Bortels/nuBerlin.com

The Torstrasse is probably one of the more famous streets in Berlin-Mitte – although I’m actually not sure about the reason for this. The street kind of encircles half of the inner Mitte area, connecting the larger outbound streets and alleys. It is about 2km long and stretches between Mollstraße and Hannoverschen Strasse.

Historically the Torstrasse, as the German meaning of its name already suggests, connected a row of Gates (“Tor”). It was originally built around 1735 together with a historical Berlin Wall: the Berlin Customs Wall (“Berliner Zollmauer”). All together there were 18 city gates, pointing to 18 different directions. Every gate was basically named after the city it pointed at. Probably the most famous Gate, the Brandenburg Gate (“Bandenburger Tor”) was the one pointing towards Brandenburg. Accordingly the Kottbusser Gate (“Kottbusser Tor”).
More on the Berlin Customs Wall at wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Customs_Wall

Torstrasse today: shops, bars, restaurants

Today the Torstrasse is quite a lively street. Traffic can be rather heavy, at least for Berlin standards. In my perspective the street is rather a connection, than a place to hang out at. Nevertheless it can be also an inspiring walk – especially if you neither want to visit the Shops, Bars, Cafés and Restaurants that are located nearby in the cozy backstreets of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.

The Torstrasse is about 2km long and it stretches between Oranienburger Tor (Chausseestraße/ Friedrichstraße) and Prenzlauer Tor (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße/ Prenzlauer Allee). If you want to go for a walk down Torstrasse, it would probably take half an hour to just walk all the way. But since there is not much of interest on the east end of the street, I would however recommend you begin your walk near Rosa-Luxemburg Platz. This may also be quite convenient since Rosa-Luxemburg Platz has an U-Bahn station and a Tram Stop. You would basically ‘only’ miss the rather busy crossing at Prenzlauer Tor (Karl-Liebknecht-Straße/ Prenzlauer Allee) where Torstrasse ends and Mollstrasse begins.

Anyways. I’ll start with the backstreets nearby. I suggest you may want to first have a look at the theater “Volksbühne” and the surrounding streets and houses. The area is part of the so called Scheunenviertel. The theater was built in 1915 – most of the more impressive buildings around it were built between 1910 and 1930 – some of them look rather typical for that time perior. The movie theater Babylon for example was built in 1928/1929, featuring an Art Nouveau stair case.

You could probably spend a hole day walking the streets of Scheunenviertel, hanging around the various shops and gelleries and caf#es in this area, but now let’s finally begin the walk. Back to Rosa-Luxemburg Platz – or actually the crossing where Torstrasse meets with Rosa-Luxemburg Strasse and Alte Schönhauser Strasse (which continues as Schönhauser Allee towards Prenzlauer Berg). Parallel to Torstrasse, passing right behind the Volksbühne, you’ll find the Linienstrasse – a rather narrow and quiet street which is perfect to ride your bicycle on, if you want to avoid the traffic on Torstrasse but still want to go in the same direction.

Walking down Torstrasse towards Rosenthaler Platz you’ll pass some small fashion shops, bars and restaurants – the rather ‘typical’ mix. On the left side you’ first pass by the ‘Kaffee Burger’ (www.kaffeeburger.de). The venue / bar that is well known for their Parties, Live Music and sometimes rather unconventional events (Chess Boxing, Poetry Slam etc.). The location has been a restaurant / bar ever since 1890. During the wild Berlin Twenties is was known as ‘Café Lido`, later is was owned and run by the Burgers until 1999. The writing “Kaffee Burger” you may spot in the windows is from the Fifties.

Further down Torstrasse, on the opposite side you’ll find the old Post Office, which was built in 1901/1902 (architect: Nicolaysen). It’s one of the first post offices following a new ‘trend’ to build apartment houses together with smaller local post offices. A few steps further you can do your laundry at a laundromat.

Torstrasse / Rosenthaler Platz (a.k.a. “Rosi”)

The next big crossing is Rosenthaler Platz – or “Rosi”. It’s not really a beauty, but it’s quite vivid. A good spot to meet. Then again Torstrasse meets with Brunnenstrasse, Weinbergsweg and Rosenthaler Strasse. And since there is also a U8 U-Bahn Station nearby (“Rosenthaler Platz”) the U-Bahn and Tram Lines M1, M8 and 12 also meet here.

Nearby you’ll find a number of hostels and hotels. “The Circus” is probably the most well known accommodation around here. And just around the corner you could enter the cozy little park “Weinbergspark”.

Near Rosenthaler Platz you’ll also find all kinds of small restaurants, cafés, fast food stands, and bars. The St. Oberholz (sanktoberholz.de) is right at the corner of Rosenthaler Strasse / Torstrasse and is well known for their free WiFi hotspot and the high percentage of people reading or writing or working while drinking coffee.

to be continued

 

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