Source:         Photographer: Siepmann.H

Whoever does not know the ‘Alexanderplatz’ does not know Berlin. It is the most famous and important place in the German capital. For the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall in 2009, it served as a large exhibition place on which impressive pictures and performances depicting the story of the ‘time of change’ in Germany between 1989 and 1990, were held – astounding any visitors.

However, this is not the only event that made the Alexanderplatz into something special; it has always been special. Today ‘Alex’ (as Berliners affectionately call it) lies in the centre of the city. This was not always the case as at the beginning of the 18th Century, the Alexanderplatz was first used to hold a cattle market and was situated on the outskirts of the city, directly in front of the city gates. Additionally, to this time it was not known as the ‘Alexanderplatz’ rather was popularly known as the ‘Ox-place’ on the basis that the oft-occurring cattle market was held there.

Hence originally it served as a trading centre for all kinds of cattle and at a later point, for a wide range of other goods including spices, wool, food and much more.

The Alexanderplatz received its present name at the beginning of the 19th Century. The city had grown considerably during this time and so the ‘Platz’ was now no longer on the outskirts, rather in the centre of Berlin. For the town council the trading activities would have been a thorn in the eye, which is why they built a station for the Berlin Subway here.

On a visit from the tsar Alexander I to Berlin, it was named the ‘Alexanderplatz’ in honour of him. As a result the square quickly evolved into a major transport hub in Berlin. This was possibly also a reason why the Alexanderplatz became a popular target for bomb attacks by the allied forces during the Second World War. As a result of this the square was almost completely destroyed.

bigger map view

Quelle: pixelio
Photographer: Beggert

After the war, rebuilding of the square occurred immediately, however it was not until the building of the Centre of East Berlin in 1966- 1971, that the square was developed into the way in which it is used today. Following this large department stores and hotels were established around it, and in addition the well known Berlin Television Tower – one of the landmarks of the city, is also situated directly next to the square. Other attractions that can be found around the ‘Alex’ are for example the ‘Fountain of Friendship of Nations’ or the World Clock built in 1969.

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