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Title: Kreuzberg  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Boroughs and localities of Berlin, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Berlin, Oberbaum Bridge, Luisenstadt
Collection: Former Boroughs of Berlin, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, Localities of Berlin
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Quarter of Berlin
Kreuzberg Engelbecken
Coat of arms of Kreuzberg
Coat of arms
Kreuzberg  is located in Germany
Country Germany
State Berlin
City Berlin
Borough Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg
Founded 1920
 • Total 10.4 km2 (4.0 sq mi)
Population (2009-06-30)
 • Total 147,227
 • Density 14,000/km2 (37,000/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes (nr. 0202) 10961, 10963, 10965, 10967, 10997, 10999, 10969
Vehicle registration B

Kreuzberg, a part of the combined Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough located south of Mitte since 2001, is one of the best-known areas of Berlin. Kreuzberg, colloquially also known as X-Berg, is often described as consisting of two distinctive parts: the SO 36, home to many immigrants; and SW 61, roughly coterminous with the old postal codes for the two areas in West Berlin.[1] Kreuzberg has emerged from its history as one of the poorest quarters in Berlin in the late 1970s, during which it was an isolated section of West Berlin[2] to one of Berlin's cultural centers in the middle of the now reunified city, known around the world for its alternative scene and counterculture.[3][4]

Kreuzberg is one of the trendiest districts of Berlin, and many bars, pubs and nightclubs can be found in the area.


  • Overview 1
  • Geography 2
    • Layout 2.1
    • Subdivision 2.2
  • History 3
  • Culture 4
  • Kreuzberg in popular culture 5
  • Places and buildings of interest 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


The borough is known for its very large percentage of immigrants and descendants of immigrants, many of whom are of Turkish ancestry. As of 2006, 31.6% of Kreuzberg's inhabitants did not have German citizenship.[5] While Kreuzberg thrives on its diverse culture and is still an attractive area for many, the district is also characterized by high levels of unemployment and some of the lowest average incomes in Berlin.[6]

The counterculture tradition of Kreuzberg led to a plurality of votes for the Green Party, which is unique among all Berlin boroughs. The local MP Hans-Christian Ströbele is the only Green politician directly elected to the federal Bundestag parliament.



Kreuzberg is bounded by the river Spree in the east. The Landwehrkanal flows through Kreuzberg from east to west, with the Paul-Lincke-Ufer running alongside it. Other characteristics are the old U-Bahn line of the present-day U1, the Görlitzer Park in SO 36 and the Viktoriapark on the slope of the Kreuzberg hill in SW 61.


Kreuzberg is divided into 2 zones (Ortslagen):


In contrast to many other areas of Berlin, which were villages before their integration into Berlin, Kreuzberg has a rather short history.[7] It was formed on 1 October 1920 by the Friedrichstadt, the western and southern Luisenstadt and the Tempelhofer Vorstadt were merged into the new VIth borough of Berlin, first named Hallesches Tor. On 27 September 1921 the borough assembly of Hallesches Tor decided to rename the borough after the homonymous hill.[8] Kreuzberg, literally meaning cross hill, is the point of highest elevation in the Kreuzberg locality, which is 66 m (217 ft) above sea level.[9] The hill is traditionally a place for weekend trips. It received its name from the 1821 Prussian National Monument for the Liberation Wars by Karl Friedrich Schinkel within the Viktoriapark, built in commemoration of the Napoleonic Wars. Except for its northernmost part, the quarter Friedrichstadt (established in the end of the 17th century), today's "Kreuzberg" was a very rural place until well into the 19th century.

This changed when, in the 1860s, industrialization caused Berlin to grow rapidly. This called for extensive housing – much of which was built exploiting the dire needs of the poor, with widespread land speculation. Many of Kreuzberg's buildings originate from that time.[10] They were built on the streets laid out in the Hobrecht-Plan in an area that came to be known architecturally as the Wilhelmine Ring. Far into the 20th century, Kreuzberg was the most populous of Berlin's boroughs even in absolute numbers, with more than 400,000 people, although it was and still is geographically the smallest. As a result, with more than 60,000 people per square kilometer (155,000 people per square mile), Kreuzberg had the highest population density in Berlin.

Saarlandstraße (today's Stresemannstraße) looking towards "Askanischer Platz" with the ruin of Anhalt Station and the tower stump of the "Protestant Saint Luke's Church", after the air raids during World War II, photo taken by Abraham Pisarek.

In addition to housing, Kreuzberg was also one center of Berlin's industry. The "export quarter" along Ritter Street consisted of many profitable small businesses, and the "press quarter" along Koch Street (Friedrichstadt) was the home of most of Germany's large newspapers, as well as the Ullstein, Scherl, and Mosse book publishers.[9]

Both of these industrial quarters were almost entirely destroyed by air raids during World War II, with the bombings of a single night from February 3, 1945. In remembrance of the old tradition, the Axel Springer press company erected its German headquarters at Kochstraße again, right next to the Berlin Wall.

Oranienplatz on Labour Day
Streets of Kreuzberg

After World War II, Kreuzberg's housing rents were regulated by law which made investments unattractive. As a result, housing was of low quality, but cheap, which made the borough a prime target for immigrants coming to Germany (and Berlin).[11] Starting in the late 1960s, increasing numbers of students, artists, and immigrants began moving to Kreuzberg. Enclosed by the Berlin Wall on three sides, the area became famous for its alternative lifestyle and its squatters, especially the SO 36 part of Kreuzberg.[12] Starting in 1987, there have been violent riots in SO 36 on Labour day.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kreuzberg suddenly found itself in the middle of the city again. The initially cheap rents and high degree of 19th century housing made some parts of the borough more attractive as a residential area for a much wider (and richer) variety of people. Today, Kreuzberg has one of the youngest populations of all European city boroughs; statistically, its population has been swapped completely twice in the last two decades.

Berlin's 2001 administrative reform combined Kreuzberg with Friedrichshain to form the new borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Since the two areas are linked only by a single bridge over the Spree River, the Oberbaumbrücke, this combination seemed awkward to many residents. The two areas not being able to agree on a common location for the future borough's city hall, the present location in Friedrichshain was decided by flipping a five-Mark coin.


Kreuzberg has historically been home to the Berlin's punk rock movement as well as other alternative subcultures in Germany. The SO36 club remains a fixture on the Berlin music scene. It was originally focused on punk music and in the 1970s was often frequented by Iggy Pop and David Bowie. In those days the club rivalled New York's CBGB as one of the finest new-wave venues in the world.[13]

There has also been a significant influence stemming from African-American and hip hop culture on Kreuzberg's youth and the area has become a centre for rap and breakdance within Berlin. Though the majority of Kreuzberg's residents are of German or Turkish descent, some identify more with American or African-American culture.[14] Hip hop was largely introduced to the youth of Kreuzberg by the children of American servicemen who were stationed nearby until the reunification of Germany.[15]

Every year there is a big festival in Kreuzberg called the Carnival of Cultures where different cultures and heritages are celebrated in colourful street parades which include music, street entertainment, food, and art and craft stalls.[16]

Kreuzberg has long been the epicenter of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer life and Arts in Berlin. Kreuzberg is home to the Schwules Museum which was established in the late 1980s. The museum is dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and discovering LGBTQ history, art and culture. The museum is composed of three main divisions: archives, library, and exhibitions.

Kreuzberg in popular culture

Kottbusser Tor by Night
  • German musician/dj Robin Schulz musical composition, Prayer in C, an adaptation of a prior song of the same name by Lilly Wood & the Prick, had the music video filmed entirely in Kreuzberg.
  • Turkish-German filmmaker Neco Celik, who portrays the American influence over the youth culture in Kreuzberg in his first film, Alltag, notes that "Kreuzberg is a kind of biotope where different nationalities live, but the environment determines their lives, not their nationalities."
  • German musician Sven Regener's first novel, Berlin Blues, and third novel, Der Kleine Bruder, are set in the district of Kreuzberg.
  • "Kreuzberg" is a song by English indie rock band Bloc Party on the album A Weekend in the City, which also mentions the East Side Gallery.
  • American musician Stephen Malkmus mentions taking a "locomotive to Kreuzberg" in his song "Black Book".
  • Kreuzberg's bohemian way of life is reflected in the song Find the Time by English singer/songwriter Sam Duckworth's band Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly on the album Searching for the Hows and Whys.
  • Kreuzberg-based Turkish/German rapper Killa Hakan mentions Kreuzberg in most of his songs, most notably in his 2007 single "Kreuzberg City".
  • The acclaimed documentary Prinzessinnenbad by Bettina Blümner focuses on the lives of three young girls from Kreuzberg.
  • Canadian musician Shotgun Jimmie's 2011 album Transistor Sister contains a song titled "The King of Kreuzberg", where in he sings about taking the train to Kreuzberg and "jump[ing] right into it".
  • English post-punk band Killing Joke have a song on their first album titled "SO 36".
  • Phoenix folk-punk band Andrew Jackson Jihad make a reference to Kreuzberg in the song "Kokopelli Face Tattoo" with the lyric "...Kreuz is German for Williams." Vocalist Sean Bonnette claims this pokes fun at the young, hipness of Kreuzberg, in that it is similar to a German version of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • Kreuzberg appears in Shadowrun Returns's Dragonfall expansion as Kreuzbasar, a small self-sufficient walled community in the anarchic "F-State" of Berlin.

Places and buildings of interest

Heinrichplatz in Kreuzberg
Waterside of the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg
Bridges over the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg
Berlin U-Bahn station Görlitzer Bahnhof
Wrangelstraße with Tabor Church.

See also


  1. ^ Wosnitza, Regine (13 April 2003). "Berlin on its wild site". Time. Retrieved 2008-03-21. 
  2. ^ Kreuzberg Archived 6 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Berlin's culture club -". CNN. 30 June 2007. 
  4. ^ Kreuzbergs Retter : Textarchiv : Berliner Zeitung Archiv Archived 3 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Verband Berlin-Brandenburgischer Wohnungsunternehmen e.V". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 
  6. ^, retrieved on 2008-03-21
  7. ^ Eva Brücker, Hasso Spode et al.: Kreuzberg (Geschichtslandschaft Berlin V), Berlin: Nicolai 1994 [2]
  8. ^ Klaus-Dieter Wille, Spaziergänge in Kreuzberg, Berlin: Haude & Spener, 1986, (=Berliner Kaleidoskop: Schriften zur Berliner Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte; vol. 32), p. 21. ISBN 3-7759-0287-2.
  9. ^ a b retrieved on 2008-03-21
  10. ^, retrieved on 2008-03-21
  11. ^, Regine Wosnitza "Berlin on its wild site" 13 April 2003, retrieved on 2008-03-21
  12. ^ retrieved on 2008-03-21; see Brücker/Spode op.cit.
  13. ^ The SO36 Club
  14. ^ Brown, Timothy S. “‘Keeping it Real’ in a Different ‘Hood: (African-) Americanization and Hip-hop in Germany.” In The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture, ed. by Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, 137-50. London; A
  15. ^ The Saturday Profile; A Bold New View of Turkish-German Youth, New York Times
  16. ^ "Karneval der Kulturen". Retrieved 2012-01-20. 

External links

  •, the website of the combined borough (in German)
  • (English) Carnival of Cultures
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