The history of the of the square is almost as old as Berlin itself, the name of Alexanderplatz dates back to early 1800’s, when it was named as such after a Russian Tsar Alexander I, who visited Prussia in 1805.
It became one of the central points of the city after the building of a railway station and the town hall in its vicinity.During the first half of the XX century it was a center of Berlin night life, famous at the time for the bohemian lifestyle of its inhabitants.
Alexanderplatz was almost completely destroyed during the battle of Berlin, and after the end of World War II found itself on the East Germany side.
The DDR government set itself up to rebuild the area as a pearl in the crow of the communist bloc, showing the west of what socialism is capable of.
Most of the structures so characteristic of the area come from that period (around 1960’s)
1. Urania World Time Clock (Urania Weltzeituhr)
It was built in 1969. It shows time in various capitals around the world, and serves as a meeting point for tourists. It was set up to commemorate the 20. jubilee of the East German state (the DDR) and was a part of the comprehensive modern, even futuristic plan for the rebuilding of the Alexanderplatz area in a socialist fashion.
2. The Fountain of the Frendschip of the People (Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft)
Built as a part of the modernisation works in Alexanderplatz, it was opened in 1970 for the 21. East Germany jubilee. It is built is a soc-realist style, with it’s colorful murals depicting the communist utopia.
3. Alexander- and Berolinahaus
The Alexanderhaus and Berolinahaus were built between 1929 and 1932 in a ‘moderne’ or modernist style, as a part of a larger development plan for the area, undertaken to accomodate the growing popularity of Alexanderplatz for Berliners. Unfortunately, due to the great depression and the rise of the Nazis, the project was never completed and those two building are the only ones that came into be.
The two structures housed office spaces and shops, which also dotoday.
Although the two buildings caught fire during the allied Berlin bombings in World War II and Alexanderhaus was even hit directly, they both managed to survive due to their sturdy structure and were the only WWII survivors in the Alexanderplatz area.
Here’s a video panorama of the east side of Alexanderplatz:
4 thoughts on “Alexanderplatz part 1 – East Germany remnants / main Berlin landmarks”
I came here once, in 1984. I was 16 and touring with 30 other students about my age. I don’t know why, because I photographed liberally during my stay in Berlin, but I took few photos here. All I have are dim memories, all reduced with time to grayscale. But East Berlin was relentlessly gray then. It is shocking to see your colorful photos today. I’m trying to reconcile them with my memories. I don’t remember the Weltzeituhr but do remember, I think, the fountain.