Neighbourhood Guide: Charlottenburg

Charlottenburg is an area rich in history and culture, seamlessly blending the elegance of historic Berlin with the needs of a contemporary community. It is packed with historic sites, elegant Wilhelmian facades and romantic tree lined boulevards. Charlottenburg is heaven for tourists whether your passion lies in history or shopping. It’s also been the home of the Sofitel Berlin Kurfürstendamm for many years and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Sofitel rooftop © @irina_jwd

Sofitel rooftop © @irina_jwd

Charlottenburg covers a large area in the west of Berlin. It’s northern section is home to Charlottenburg Palace and its southern border runs along and includes the famous Kurfürstendamm shopping precinct. It’s flanked by the Berlin Zoo and the Tiergarten (see Tiergarten Neighbourhood guide coming soon) on it’s eastern side and the not so glamorous Berlin Ring Road to the west.

Charlottenburg Palace Image © Melinda Barlow

Charlottenburg Palace Image © Melinda Barlow

The most famous jewel in Charlottenburg’s crown must be the splendid former summer palace of 1705 – Schloss Charlottenburg.  Home to Prussian Queen Sophia Charlotte, a stroll through its opulent rooms and around its manicured gardens and ponds provides an engaging sense of life in Prussian times.


Interior of Charlottenburg Palace

Many of the rooms in the palace are untouched and treasures such as the Queen’s porcelain collection, embedded into the walls of one of the parlours and the vast range of dining ware used by the family are beyond impressive. Visitors today also have some context with the construction of the new Berlin Palace more than 50% complete – many items in Charlottenburg Palace were salvaged from the Berlin Palace before it was demolished.

City West landmarks - Zoo Palast, Bikini Berlin & the memorial church

City West landmarks – Zoo Palast, Bikini Berlin & the memorial church

Heading south through Charlottenburg from the palace, visitors can take in a diverse range of pre and post war architecture from Prussian to bauhaus, plattenbauten to brutalist. Berlin is a city aways changing its form as it continues to rebuild and find its own unique presence, almost 3 decades after the wall came down and this is nowhere more evident than in its architecture.

Asian FoodBerlin’s own version of chinatown can be found in Charlottenburg along Kantstrasse in the south of the suburb. From Taiwan to Shanghai, Hanoi to Kyoto, there is little something for every taste and if you can speak a little mandarin, you may even be extended the privilege of the ‘special menu’ for real Chinese foodies.

City West © Melinda Barlow

City West © Melinda Barlow

Don’t miss a promenade through the iconic Zoologischer Garden station. The people watching here is great and some of Berlin’s favourite street foods can be snacked on out the front in Hardenbergplatz. From here take in the striking new modern buildings at the top end of Budapester Strasse then get out your walking shoes because the shopping experience from hereon in is like no other.

© Roger Wollstadt Kurfürstendamm 1963

Kurfürstendamm 1963. Photo © Roger Wollstadt on flickr

Berlin may have been given the title ‘poor but sexy’, yet there is little trace of it in Charlottenburg. Kurfürstendamm sone of the world’s most famous boulevards and it is where ‘old Berlin’ lives. Fur clad ladies walking their pampered pooches, luxury car dealers and designer boutiques are at every corner and traditional craftspeople such as tailors, milliners and shoe makers still enjoy a brisk trade. You can even enjoy the classic Berlin snack of curried sausage and chips with a bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne. Amidst all of that old school elegance, the modern face of Berlin has also staked its claim. High street stores sit next to superstores for global brands and department stores unique to Berlin like KaDeWe and Bikini Berlin showcase the best of local designers along with some of the worlds’ greatest.

Kaiser Wilhelm church

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Photograph © Tony Cassidy. flickr

History is everywhere you look in Charlottenburg with bullet and shrapnel holes on the facades of many of its buildings and the breathtaking ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial church as a constant reminder of the tragedies the city and its people have lived through. Don’t miss the photo exhibition inside the church ruins and escape the chaos and noise into the blue oasis of the new section of the church.

Ku'damm © Melinda Barlow

Sculpture on Kurfürstendamm

Charlottenburg is endlessly fascinating, full of history, opulent museums and theatres, fine wining and dining and at Christmas times, one of the best Christmas markets in Germany (and there the world). Explore it’s tranquil leafy back streets, its atmospheric bars and cafes, its incredible shopping and all manner of other surprises.

Melinda Barlow is an Australian freelance writer and editor, based in Berlin since 2012. Melinda works with print and online media and has a natural curiosity that informs her work. She is passionate about travel and great content. She loves to write most about the world, its people and why we all do what we do.