NEUKÖLLN: A MELTING POT WITH A FASCINATING PAST

Berlin’s most multicultural district is home to around 180 nationalities and an equal diversity of sights and sounds.

The vibrant district of Neukölln is famed for its pan-Arabic and Turkish culture and cuisine, and its international newcomers, but partly began as a home to Bohemian protestants fleeing persecution. The remains of its 300-year-old Bohemian village of Rixdorf can be seen around Richardsplatz, a large historical square that hosts a legendary annual Christmas market.

Here you can find some of the oldest architecture in Berlin, along with a number of traditional German eateries like Villa Rixdorf (Richardplatz 6), which serves up Berlin specialities like “Eisbein”, or pickled pork knuckle. Walking north towards the Landwehr canal, visitors can check out Neukölln’s “Little Lebanon” along Sonnenallee which is jammed with baklava and falafel shops.

The backstreets around Reuterplatz make up one of Berlin’s most upcoming areas, an axis of cafés, boutiques, bookstores and galleries that attracts young people from around the world. Enjoy lunch at Burrito Baby (Pflügerstrasse 11), a popular institution selling Mexican street food – and afterward visit Tischendorf café (Friedelstrasse 25), renowned for its cosy ambience and homemade cakes.

Any visit to Neukölln these days includes a walk around the huge expanse of open space that was once Tempelhof Airport. Said to be twice the size of Central Park, the airport was designated a public park in 2010 after the airport shut down two years before – it was the site of the Berlin Airlift (supplies were flown into the city via the airport when Stalin blockaded West Berlin). Today, Tempelhof Park offers Berlin’s grandest vista, plus several runways along which the visitors walk, bicycle or even rollerblade the kilometres of tarmac. Check out the massive Nazi-built terminal (once the largest building on earth and these days home to music and fashion festivals), or wander the open vegetable gardens that have mushroomed across the northern end of the park as the sun goes down.