Kollwitzplatzmarkt in 'schickimicki' Prenzlauerberg
If you mention you live in Prenzlauerberg you will usually get two kinds of reaction. Either one of recognition: “Oh, Schwangerberg” (“pregnancy hill”), or a sort of far-away, lost look in the eyes, while people try to recall— they know they’ve heard the name, but it seems so long ago...
Prenzlauerberg was one of the first former East Berlin neighbourhoods to be overun with young creative party people (usually from West Germany) following the fall of the wall. West and East Berlin youth flocked to abandoned housing complexes of the neglected East-side suburb, to set up squats and open art workshops. The resulting boom in nightlife, and a neighbourhood consisting of galleries, bars, cafés and clubs made Prenzlauerberg one of Berlin’s distinctive bohemian centres.
Twenty years later, despite being one of Berlin’s first victims of gentrification (almost more loathed than swarms of hipster ex-pats, are the young, rich south-german families who eventually over-ran the neighbourhood, effectively converting the streets into an open-air créche), amongst the seemingly unaffordable rents and Kinderwagon highways formerly known as “Fußweg”, there are still some treasures to be found on the hill.
The Kollwitzplatz market is one such gem. You’ve probably heard of the Mauerpark flea-market or jostled with the trolley-weilding turkish nanas at Maybachufer, but Kollwitzplatz offers a different kind of experience.
The market occurs every Saturday, nestled on the corners of Kollwitzstraße and Wörtherstraße at Kollwitzplatz, where it is watched over by the statue of it's name-sake Käthe Kollwitz. Käthe was an artist whose paintings, prints and sculptures celebrated the humble lives of working class people, like those of many former Prenzlauerberg occupants.
Over the last ten years especially, the influx of increased wealth to the area has led to a boom in boutique retail developments and restaurants catering to all varieties of cultures and tastes. In Kollwitzplatz, this has led to a rather refined and specialized market place.
Contrasting with the sprawling alleys of Mauerpark, Kollwitzplatzmarkt sits comfortably without crushing crowds, halfway between the historic monuments of Kulturbrauerei and the Wasserturm. Here, locally grown produce and home-made sausages are sold side-by-side with luxury man-bags and homespun yak-wool jumpers. Rather than just bargains or bang for your buck, there is a strong emphasis on high-standards and bio or organic-farmed goods. Well, a lot of the locals are from Bayern, after all… Where else can you sample wild-meats, home-jarred honey, and Erdberry Wein while perusing original art-prints or custom-sewn reversible bicycle-seat covers (for all seasons)?
The first time you discover the market, it might feel as if you’re in a twilight-zone tourist trap (falafel over €2.50? Unglaublich!). But, while there may not be so many bargains, there is a pride in the craftsmanship and love that has gone into the goods here. This is more than evident in the delicious flavours of home-grown produce, fresh-pressed oils and hand-made goods that will last longer than your schickimicki €5 Flöhmarkt lamp.
Perhaps reflecting the continuing trend of former outsiders becoming insiders in Prenzlauerberg, there is an atmosphere of real community and an open, friendly spirit towards visitors and locals alike. And if you’re really looking for a bargain, you can always try a last-minute run after 16:00.
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Margo Berlin - Sattelmützen
Neal follows music, art, good food, bad food and great beer wherever it takes him. Currently he resides in the dreamworld of Berlin where he tries not to be too content or productive.