Monday, January 18, 2016

Map & Itinerary #13: Potsdam

Although Potsdam is well known in the world for the Sanssouci(1) gardens and palace (it was the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia - now UNESCO heritage), there is a lot more to discover and it is worth a trip or even a couple of days, to discover its past and the connections with past and recent history.

This is a map and an itinerary, you can get to Potsdam with the S-bahn or a Regional train and you can bring easily your bike on the train with you (there are also people riding it directly from Berlin as the landscape to get there is very nice).

If you get there by car, the entry point is most probably Wansee and the Bridge of spies: Glienicke Brücke (2), recently used by Steven Spielberg for his film with Tom Hanks, as the bridge was used during the Cold War to exchange prisoners and spies between East and West Germany.
Directly in the city center and the Dutch Quarter (3) - consisting of 169 black Dutch brick buildings, almost all of which have been renovated and considered as Europe's greatest collection of Dutch-style houses outside of the Netherlands. Not far from there there's also a WWII monument with a soviet cemetery (9).

Outside of the city there are a couple of jewels, one inside the Park Babelsberg and one in Postdam Süd. The first is another UNESCO Heritage, the Schloss Babelsberg - UNESCO Castle (4), the second is the astrophysical observatory Einsteinturm and the Wissenschaftspark  (5), the very famous Einstein Tower, very well known especially among architects also because it was one of Mendelsohn's first major projects and part of the Expressionist architecture.

If you are into strange architecture and style, walking by the riverl Havel near Breite str. you will notice two different  buildings, the first is the Dampfmaschinenhaus (6), also known as the "pump house" or "mosque", built to operate the Great Fountain in front of the castle Sanssouci.

The other structure, not far from there, is the See-Restaurant „Seerose“ (7)designed in 1983 during the DDR time by Ulrich Müther (which is also the architect of the Rettungsturm - Lifeguard Tower on the Rügen Island).

On the same street at the corner with Dortusstrasse, there a cubic building with some original socialist mosaics (8) with scenes of CCCP space trips, science and education.

But the connection between Potsdam and Russia are not just limited to this. There's a long tradition in the relationship between the two cultures and the Kolonie Alexandrowka (10) as a sign of the friendly relations between the houses of Hohenzollern and Romanov in the 19th century. The hippodrome shape of the land and the very special wooden houses make this colony special and  under UNESCO Heritage and the Alexander-Newski-Gedächtniskirche (11) church at the top of the small hill is also part of it.

But if the relationships with Russia are still intact, same for  the legacy with the Soviet Union and the Cold war. The KGB Leistikowstrasse Prison (12), the Schloss Cecilienhof - UNESCO Heritage (13) and the Marmorpalais (14) have been deeply into the history of the city and of the country during the Warsaw Pact.
Cecilienhof has been used for the Potsdam Conference at the End of the WWII and it is now hosting an hotel and a musuem. In the park you can also visit the Marble Palast, which is also a museum and it was used as officers' casino by the Soviet Army.

At the border with Berlin and so close the the west part of it controlled by US, Potsdam during the Col War was also an important military place. The north part of the city was hosting several military bases and it is still possible to see some parts of the Rote Kaserne (15), which are now been restored and used as apartments.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Breaking the Circle: Hutfabrik - The Hat Factory (Luckenwalde)

From the end of 1600 to 1800 Luckenwalde moved from a quite sleepy market town of Brandenburg to a considerable industrial development. Makers and knitters and clothiers from Thuringia encouraged to set up workshops in Luckenwalde and in 1841 they've been connected to the rail. Thirty years later Luckenwalde had made a name in the manufacture of hats especially.

In 1921 some hat manufacturers (Salomon Herrmann, Gustav Herrmann, Felix Steinberg and Robert Steinberg Robert Steinberg junior and senior) decided to merge and they decided to build a large new factory in Luckenwalde industrial road. The contract was awarded to the then relatively unknown architect Erich Mendelsohn, who was friends with Gustav Herrmann. On an area of ​​10,000 square meters emerged from 1921 to 1923 four production halls, a boiler and turbine house, a dyeing hall and two gatehouses. The genius of Mendelssohn was particularly evident in the construction of dyeing hall, the shaft-shaped hood received a modern ventilation.

Mendelsohn (who's also the same architect of the Einsteinturm) emigrated to London in 1933 as well as  the manufacturer Gustav Herrmann with his family. A year later, the hat factory was sold to the North German engineering AG and demolished the distinctive roof of the hall dyeing. Until 1945, presented here in the halls aircraft guns and anti-aircraft weapons.

After the war, the Russian army repaired here their tanks, but in 1957 the VEB bearing factory started a new production. After the reunification the factory has been closed due to high losses.

Since 2000, the Berlin entrepreneur family Ayad is willing to set up system for textiles, they back up the roofs of the former production halls to stop the decay.

More infos: Monumente online (german)

All images are under CC Creative Commons (Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works), please refer to " darioj laganà | "

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Inside the Sportforum Hohenschönhausen (Lichtenberg)

We start the new year with a surprise, shooted just before the winter and still unrevealed. This building belong to the series of buildings that we cross by car o by tram and we never stop by and we actually don't know what's inside.
What I had as information was just that it was looking as DDR architecture (which is under Denkmalschutz - monument protection) and was still in use, but I never expected it to be so interesting and full of details.
From the street zou can just see a small portion of the huge complex, but once inside, there are 35 different sport facilities.
It has been built in the 50's as a reaction to the division of the city, as long as the Olympiapark (full reportage here) was part of West Berlin (the replicas of facilities has been a common topic after the WWII in Berlin, including theaters, stadiums and also the zoo).
Which I've found very interesting and unexpected were the DDR decorations inside and outside the buildings, which are disappearing very fast day by day in Berlin due to restorations. DDR art, together with all the socialistic art, can maybe not be the most spectacular one from an aesthetic point of view, but I found it very distinguish - as well telling simple stories. Here for example the picture on one of the wall shows the construction of the stadium and the people from the NVA helping it.
Although the facitilites are still in use and others are closed to restoration, most of the decorations are original, as the low reliefs and the statues in the park.
Among other structures, there is also the original stadium of SC Dynamo Berlin, well known because it was  a sports association of the Ministry of the Interior (STASI) and its chairman was Erich Mielke (dubbed, "The Master of Fear," - in German: der Meister der Angst by the West German press, he was one of the most powerful and most hated men in East Germany). Dynamo first played here, then they move to the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark (today known as Mauerpark).

More infos: WIKI (german)

All images are under CC Creative Commons (Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works), please refer to " darioj laganà | "