Living in Friedrichshain

Friedrichshain - named after the famous Friedrichshain park and since 2001, a distinct district of Berlin - extends over a radius of about ten kilometres and is part of the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, which has a total of about 270,000 inhabitants, of whom approximately 115,000 live in Friedrichshain.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Communists and supporters of the Social Democrats gathered in Friedrichshain, which around the time of the Second World War led to political killings and destruction of homes by bombs. In the Former East Germany Friedrichshain was known as a working-class district, and today you can still see small signs of that.

The People


The Berlin scene quarter of Friedrichshain consists of many different types of residents: students, academics, artists and also young families, for whose kids there are kindergardens on almost every corner (or so it seems). But there are also still "original" residents and middle-aged couples who grumble when you get in their way or listen to much a bit too loud. The quarter is also very popular with young designers and graduates from other European countries such as Italy, Finland and Sweden.

Walking through the streets you see so many young people. They sit in parks, cafes, reading, eating or have shopping bags over their shoulders. And mostly they are not alone.

Housing


Friedrichshain has become a decent quarter, say the long-term residents. A few years ago it was quite different: left, radical, and determinedly against gentrification. Sometimes you still see burning cars and demonstrations still take place on Frankfurter Allee, and homes in Liebigstraße are still occupied by squatters. However, the left cannot stop the slow change which has occurred in Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg and now is occurring in Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Kreuzkölln - wealthy individuals buy houses and rent the apartments out at obscene prices which normal earners and above all else artists, who Friedrichshain has to thank for its flair - simply cannot afford.

Whoever wants to live in Boxhagener Platz has to dig deep into their pockets: over €300 per month for a small one-room flat of size 25m2 (with heating included). Flat shares are also no longer a favourable alternative - you'll pay them same. On Warschauer Straße and areas around the Bridge it's expensive, but you can still live fairly cheaply in the more norther Samaritan Quarter, where there are still loyal property management companies whose rental prices are not yet aligned to the rest of the Berlin housing market. The apartments are also very beautiful, fitted with wood floors, renovated baths and attractive facades.

Also further north in the direction of Prenzlauer Berg (Landesberger Allee) there are reasonable living quarters, but these are often partly prefabricated buildings and it's not as lively here as in the Samaritan or Boxi Quarter. Towards the east, Ostkreuz is still a popular residential area for students. There are manysmall shops and pubs on Sonntagstraße and it is a hub of the Berlin S-Bahn network.

Transport


With its many S- and U-Bahn stations, Friedrichshain is very easy to reach, no matter where you are coming from. There are two Ringbahn stations (Frankfurter Allee and Ostkreuz) as well as the popular U-Bahn stations Frankfurter Tor and Samariterstraße on the U5 line. At Ostkreuz you can connect with the S3, S5, S7, S75, S8 and S85 as well as seven regional trains; it's not the most frequented train station in Berlin for nothing. Night time is covered, too: the metro tram M10 travels to the U-Bahn station at Warschauer Straße or to Nordbahnhof, and covers three districts: Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte. With the M13 tram you can travel at 2 o'clock in the morning to Lichtenberg, Weißensee, Prenzlauer Berg und Wedding. You certainly feel safe in Friedrichshain because there are always people milling about at all hours of the day and night. Sometimes it can be a little dark in the small side streets, but as the crime statistics say, attacks are rare.

Shopping and Eat Out


Friedrichshain has a lot to offer in this regard. On Sunday Boxhagener Platz is always worth a visit as one of the most famous fleamarkets takes place there where you can pick up cheap antiques and kitsch items, and even sometimes rare items. In between browsing, shoppers go to the cafes around the square and drink Orca Spice or enjoy lunch late into the afternoon. In the evenings (and naturally in summer during the day too) Simon-Dach-Kiez is the most popular destination for restaurants, pubs and bars. There is a huge choice of different establishments and with so many others around you really get the feeling of being in a big city. A bit further on Revaler Straße you perhaps get a little too much of this feeling, and once you hit Warschauer Straße with its heavy, loud traffic, you can see a pleasant view of the Berlin skyline from the Bridge. There are even special telescopes mounted with zoom lenses to enjoy the vista. The O2 Arena, visible from the bridge, is not too popular with locals, but for several years now it's been a part of Friedrichshain. Over on Samariterstraße there is lots to see and buy: copy shops, fabric shops, bakers, clothes shops - you can find everything for the everyday - as well as not so everyday - household.

If you head in the direction of Lichtenberg, to U-Bahn station Frankfurter Allee, you'll see the Ringcenter, a popular shopping destination for people of all stripes and therefore usually a bit too busy for comfort. Nevertheless, it has a Real, H&M, Kaiser's, Vero Moda and DM. If you prefer something a bit smaller, take the M13 back to Simon-Dach-Straße and take a look in the small shops on the sidestreets, where you can buy fancy designer clothes. Finally, hairdressers are everywhere - ask for the "Friedrichshain hairstyle"!

Nightlife


Generally people in the area tend to head into Kreuzberg or Neukölln when they go out at night, but Friedrichshain still has plenty to offer: the Lovelite, Astra Kulturhaus, the Fritzclub at Postbahnhof, Künstliche Beatmung, Cassiopeia, Maria at Ostbahnhof and not to forget the legendary Berghain and the Panorama Bar.

Anne Hennies