Potsdamer Platz is not a simple square but is one of the emblematic places of Berlin.
It was once just an intersection of roads leading to some of the most important European centers, including Potsdam (to which the square is named) situated 25 km southwest of the German capital.
One of the busiest squares in Europe in the early twentieth century.
From the nineteenth century, thanks to the construction of the first railway line, the Berlin – Potsdam (1838), whose terminus was built right in Potsdamer Platz, the square began to take shape as such. There sprang up cafes, shops, homes, hotels, offices, premises and soon became the heart of the city.
Urban development of the square reached its zenith in the twenties and thirties of the ‘900, during which it became one of the busiest and liveliest squares in Europe, a symbol of the rich and worldly Berlin.
Place of business in the day, the epicenter of fun at night, Potsdamer Platz was covered by a large number of cars, horse-drawn carriages, bicycles and trams (34 lines) so that in 1920 he was installed there a signaling tower (one of the first in Europe) that, through a lighting system, regulated the traffic.
The outbreak of World War II marked the beginning of the end of Potsdamer Platz. The bombings changed its face, drawing wherever a landscape of destruction and rubble; being on the border between the Russian sector and the western sector helped to turn it into a deserted and desolate zone; the construction of the Berlin Wall did the rest. Demolished the few buildings left for military security reasons Potsdamer Platz took on the appearance of a vast circular steppe, a no man’s land full of sadness that divided east from west.
Potsdamer Platz after reunification
With the reunification of Germany, the possibility of rebuilding an entire city district aroused the appetite of many private investors and heated debate among some of the greatest architects in the world. The German government, not without criticism, divided the area into 4 parts, each of which was sold separately.
Subsequently, the competition for the reorganization of the square, which was attended by the most important international architectural studies, decreed the winning design and with it, the rebirth of the neighborhood. Thus the square, in the second half of the nineties, became the biggest building site in Europe.
In a few years, thanks to the genius of the works of the undisputed masters, such as Renzo Piano, Helmut Jahn, Christopf Kohlbecher, Arata Isozaki, José Rafael Moneo, Richard Rogers, from nothing a new urban center arose that is a residential, commercial and business area with plenty of attractions and entertainment. A dynamic solution, therefore, to live each moment a completely reinvented square.
Potsdamer Platz today
The face of Potsdamer Platz is now completely changed. Much more than a square, an area formed by three different areas but architecturally harmoniously mixed: Daimler – Chrysler, the “European” area designed by Renzo Piano, the ultra-modern Sony Center designed by Helmut Jahn and the Beisheim Centre with its skyscrapers.
The Daimler, tightly around the tree-lined Marlene Dietrich Platz, homes the Debis tower of stone and glass, home to the Daimler AG group and Kollhoff tower with a viewing platform (11 -20 / 3, 50 euros). In addition to American-style shopping arcade on three floors “Arkaden”, in the district, there is also the Musical theater, home of the Berlin Film Festival, the Spielbank casino, and the Weinhaus Huth building, survived the war and appropriately restored.
Sony district is a complex of seven buildings gathered around a large courtyard covered by a glass and fiberglass canopy structure coated with Teflon, supported by steel cables anchored to adjacent buildings. The particular cover changes color both for the climate, both for the varying of hours, but also thanks to an electric lighting system.
The Sony Center, dominated by BahnTower, the seat of the German railways, boasts the multiplex CinemaxX and the famous Filmmuseum with the collection of Marlene Dietrich. Even the history was reserved: the Neo-Baroque Kaisersaal (Celebration Hall) of the old Hotel Esplanade has been moved from its original location to be incorporated into this futuristic complex. The goal of bringing new life to Potsdamer Platz has been reached, the square has once again become the heart of Berlin.
Opening hours: open air
How to reach: Metro Potsdamer Platz (U2)