For other uses, see Kreuzberg (disambiguation).
Quarter of Berlin

Coat of arms

Coordinates: 52°29′15″N 13°23′00″E / 52.48750°N 13.38333°E / 52.48750; 13.38333Coordinates: 52°29′15″N 13°23′00″E / 52.48750°N 13.38333°E / 52.48750; 13.38333
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, leading to it being named one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world in 2016.[5]


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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] It was formed on 1 October 1920 by the Greater Berlin Act providing for the incorporation of suburbs and the reorganisation of Berlin into twenty boroughs. The eastern Friedrichsvorstadt, the southern 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.[9] Kreuzberg, literally meaning cross hill, is the point of highest elevation in the Kreuzberg locality, which is 66 m (217 ft) above sea level.[10] 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.[11] 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.[10]

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
A street in 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).[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16]

The Carnival of Cultures, a large annual festival, celebrates different cultures and heritages with colourful street parades and festivities including street entertainment, food, arts and craft stalls, music and art.[17]

Kreuzberg has long been the epicenter of GLBTQ life and arts in Berlin. Kreuzberg is home to the Schwules Museum, established in the 1980's and dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and discovering queer history, art and culture. It is composed of three main divisions: archives, library, and exhibitions.

Kreuzberg in popular culture

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. The 15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World in 2016, retrieved 14 November 2016
  6. "Verband Berlin-Brandenburgischer Wohnungsunternehmen e.V". Retrieved 2012-01-20.
  7., retrieved on 2008-03-21
  8. Eva Brücker, Hasso Spode et al.: Kreuzberg (Geschichtslandschaft Berlin V), Berlin: Nicolai 1994
  9. 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.
  10. 1 2 retrieved on 2008-03-21
  11., retrieved on 2008-03-21
  12., Regine Wosnitza "Berlin on its wild site" 13 April 2003, retrieved on 2008-03-21
  13. retrieved on 2008-03-21; see Brücker/Spode op.cit.
  14. The SO36 Club
  15. 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
  16. The Saturday Profile; A Bold New View of Turkish-German Youth, New York Times
  17. "Karneval der Kulturen". Retrieved 2012-01-20.

External links

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