With almost seven years of constant experience of discovering more new and new corners of Berlin, I am almost sure that there are few things left to really impress me. However, one day at the end of the winter, while walking for a couple of hours around Hohenzollerndamm, I discovered a little unexpected island: Schmagendorf. As I felt attracted by the mixture of old Berlin style, new and old architecture and a lot of new modern restaurants, I decided to come back later a couple of weeks later, in one sunny day to carefully document this neighbourhood.
I started my walk at the historical Hohenzollerndamm historical train station, walking slowly the long avenue with the same name, for almost 30 minutes. There are not too many shops around, and only few scattered restaurants, many medical cabinets and pharmacies, with the only main attraction being the Ice stadion whose season just ended. The only bus connecting with the rest of the city is no. 115, but this time I was rather interested to walk discovering ineresting architecture styles, houses and eventually the people living here.
From Elsterplatz, I followed the touristic arrows indicating the direction of Townhall Schmagendorf, via Berkaerstrasse. Dominated by the castle-look of the town hall, the street also has modernist samples of architecture, and a relatively fancy Italian restaurant, Lucullus. The sound of the music lessons held in the old townhall rooms, resounding from the early spring open windows, gave to the entire area a certain irreal flavour. The area at the intersection between Berkaer and Breitestrasse keeps an ambiance of the 1950s. At the no. 31-35 on Berkaerstr. it used to be the Jewish old people's home built by Alex. Beer. At Hundekehlstr. 11, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in 1899 the Cornet poem.
The first time when I arrived in the area, my imagination was challenged about the brick-Gothic style of the townhall and wanted not only to find out more historical facts about it, but also to go inside, searching for more secrets. Outside, the architectural style was influenced by the trends used for public institutions in Brandenburg area at the beginning of the 20th century. The round over tower is crowded with battlements and cone-shaped cap towers above the steep gable building., made of several parts. Inaugurated in 1902 as a townhall, in 1920 was downgraded only as a town registry, following the incorporation of Schmagendorf into the Wilmersdorf district. Here married Romy Schneider as well as other German personalities.
But the discoveries inside the building are even more interesting. The serious arches made of the red brick stones are watered by the reflection of light filtered through the stained glasss mosaique. A discrete notice on the corner of one of the works mentions that the work was created by Helena Starck Buchholz and set up by August Wagner. For now, the building hosts a children library and a music school. The voices of the children running fast to start their music lessons or to take a new book from the library add even more life to the sober interior.
On the streets around, the spring invited everyone to go out of their houses, so I can see the many generations of people living here. As in many other small neighbourhoods of Berlin, you can have here almost everything to make your life comfortable without going too far away of your comfort zone: a flower shop, a computer shop, a couple of local bookstores. Another Italian restaurant, Nuovo Mario, am Koeberger Square is half-full at this mid-day time. Every Saturday, on Reichenhalterstr. there is a flea market, with cheap food or home products offered to the locals.
As in any respectable Berlin Kiez, it has its own bio store: Hofladen im Kiez, with fresh pastry and various ecological products, including a colourful healthy selection of fruits and vegetables.
And I keep exploring, from the big avenues dominated by classical West Berlin buildings, to the local small veggie store on Friedrichshaller, My & Minh Sushi Viet bar, or the Casa Delizia Italian restaurant that already serves the menu outside.
Once arrived on Breitestr., the life is getting very busy. At the old style Jebens Konditorei, classical German sweets are served and you can hardly find a free table right now. At no. 20, a mysterious yard is hosting various Artists' workshops, with special discounts for various classes. A bit far away, there is Dschunke, introduced as one of the oldest Chinese restaurant in West Berlin, as well as a small welcoming bookstore.
But, what is happening here? After a relatively friendly winter, people, especially the smallest among us, are waiting impatiently to have their small portion of delicious Italian icecream. It was about time!
Back on Barkaerstreet, I feel that at least for now, my short journey to Schmagendorf is about to end. After a last look, and a couple of more pictures of the townhall, I am back on Hohenzollerndamm. The announcement board near the Carl Orff school anounces the schedule of the next meetings in the neighbourhood, varying from cooking classes to different lectures. What else can you want more! Life in Berlin seems to be interesting, whatever where do you live! With the spring already in town, it seems that there will be a lot of new things to do and to discover around!