New York has Fifth Avenue, London has Oxford Street, and Berlin has Kurfurstendamm. 150 years after it was built, Kurfurstendamm is still a bustling shopping street with department stores, luxury boutiques, restaurants and cafes. Kurfurstendamm, or Ku’damm as it is known in Berlin, was built as a German answer to the Champs-Elysee in Paris. The wide road was lined with trees and ornate buildings were built along both sides. Although many building were destroyed in the war, every here and there you can see an example of the original buildings of the rich and famous in Berlin. Some things have changed since reunification, with young people moving further out of the center, but Ku’damm is still a good place for clothes shopping or for going out for a beer.
Shopping in Kurfurstendamm
The grand Kurfurstendamm in Berlin. Image wing 1990hk, via Flickr
There are a number of big department stores and chains along the 3.5km-long Kurfurstendamm, that are the mark of a major shopping street in any big city: H&M, Chanel, Gucci, Emporium and Rolex, as well as the huge Berlin shopping landmark, KaDeWe. These are great if you’re in Berlin for a shopping spree, or if you want to walk around in the evening and window shop. There are also a few unique Berlin boutique stores worth visiting, and you can find them in between the big department stores.
Other things to do in Kurfurstendamm
Ku’damm is more than just Kurfurstendamm street itself, it also refers to the whole area, including Tanzienstrasse, the extension of the boulevard, and all the side streets coming off the main boulevard. The side streets are just as interesting as the main shopping boulevard, and you can find a whole load of chic boutique stores on Bleibtreustrasse, Fasanenstrasse and the other streets running north and south of Kurfurstendamm itself. Highly recommended is taking a detour off the main street and walking up to Savignyplatz, a nice square with bars and cafes, perfect for sunny afternoons or winter evenings.
If shopping isn’t your thing, there are a few interesting sites on Ku’damm as well. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church on the eastern edge of the street is very impressive, and if there is mass going on its organ is worth listening too. Further down, inside the Kudamm Karree mall at number 207, is the interactive ‘Story of Berlin’ historical museum (open daily from 10am to 8pm, 12 Euro), which has 23 rooms displaying different eras of Berlin’s history, including an actual working nuclear bunker.