Nikolaiviertel or Nikolai Quarter is often referred to as the oldest residential area of Berlin. Technically, it really was. Merchants and artisans settled here in the Middle Ages because it’s located at the crossing of land and water trading routes on both sides of the river Spree. Unfortunately though, most of its medieval lanes and structures were destroyed during the Second World War. Even Berlin’s oldest church, Nikolaikirche or Saint Nicholas Church, located at the town’s center, was ruined. It was only until 1981 that the reconstruction of Nikolaiviertel was started, in time for the celebration of Berlin’s 750th anniversary in 1987. Now, it’s a unique combination of historical buildings and replicas, recreated and restored as accurately as possible based on historical models so that one would feel like he/she is actually in Old Berlin. Of course, one can still tell the difference. Even though its narrow streets full of nooks and crannies projected a medieval vibe, a part of me felt like I was at a set in Disneyland. Not that I minded or anything. Nikolaiviertel is still as charming as ever. Strolling along its alleys full of restaurants, cafes, shops, and workrooms selling basketry and wooden crafts was more than enjoyable. It even made me want to break into song every now and then.
That’s the Nikolaikirche or Saint Nicholas Church on the left.
This is the Ephraim Palais or Ephraim Palace, a masterpiece of palace architecture built in the 1760s around an existing house. It was moved to this location in the 1980s and is now a museum.
This is the river Spree, with the Berliner Dom behind me. You’ll see more of the Berliner Dom or Berlin Cathedral on my next posts.