Through a Child’s Eyes
Prenzlauer Berg is one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the German capital. It also has one of the highest birth rates in Europe. No wonder the area is packed with fun for kids and their parents!
Text: Pablo Moscoso | photos: lorenzo moscia @lorenzomoscia | map: manuel córdova @thechumbeques
In the middle of Helmholtzplatz, you’ll find a playfully weird café. Step through the doorway, and instead of a bar and a huge espresso machine, you’ll see a large sandbox and toys, filled with kids building their own tiny universes. In spring and summer, the café’s walls open onto the lush greens of the park, making the entire space a delightful world for little ones to enjoy.
Auf dem Helmholtzplatz 1
Bonanza Coffee Roasters
It’s not a café specifically designed with kids in mind (full of little chairs and loud colors) – this recommendation is more for parents. Bonanza is a roastery that pays tribute to the process of making coffee like few other cafés. Order your favorite blend and grab a seat on the terrace to take in the Oderberger Straße, one of the busiest and most beautiful streets in the city. And take note: just a short distance away you’ll find Mauerpark, which every Sunday hosts one of the largest and most varied fairs in Berlin.
Oderberger Straße 35
Onkel Philipp’s Spielzeugwerkstatt
Hidden on one of the steps at the entrance, you’ll find the phrase: “Achtung. Der Laden Lebt” (Warning: The Store Is Alive). Behind the door is an unimaginable labyrinth of toys. For kids, it’s every fantasy of their inexhaustible imaginations come to life; for adults, it’s the chance to rediscover the toys from their own childhood. There’s something for everyone: from modern robot to alien action figures to old-fashioned playthings made from brass and wood. If you explore the depths of this wondrous maze, in the basement you’ll find the gift shop of the museum of toys from the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany).
Choriner Straße 35
Die wilden Schwäne
On the bustling Schönhauser Allee, near the old iron arches of the U2 line of the Berlin U-Bahn, you’ll find another slice of heaven in Prenzlauer Berg. Named after the Hans Christian Andersen tale, “The Wild Swans,” this toy store showcases painstakingly handmade wooden items that evoke a retro nostalgia in today’s age of plastic. The wide variety of musical instruments and toys for babies are all colorful, artisanal, safe and non-toxic.
Schönhauser Allee 63
Berlin is famous for fairs and Flohmarkt (flea markets): you’ll find them on every corner, and the ones in Prenzlauer Berg are an excellent choice for an outing with children. All the guidebooks provide information on the fair in Mauerpark, but a calmer alternative can be found in Kollwitzplatz: it’s a terrific option that will give you an idea of the more family-oriented side of Berlin and let you witness the development of a new sense of neighborhood life. The Kollwitzplatz fair is open every Thursday and Saturday, offering a wide variety of “green” and “bio” products (organic is an obsession among Germans), as well as clothing, street-food stands and – of course – a large plaza filled with playground equipment, where parents can treat themselves to a refreshing beer or glass of sparkling wine while the tots enjoy the sandbox.
Kollwitzstraße entre Wörther Str. & Knaackstraße
On Brunnenstraße – the same street where the first soldier to escape East Germany was immortalized as he jumped the wire fence that would eventually become the Berlin Wall – you’ll find a sidewalk lined with classic marionettes with wooden heads and multicolored outfits. These puppets welcome you to a theater designed for children whose monthly schedule almost always offers a classic from children’s literature. Although the works are in German, the stage production offers a playful language filled with fantasy that transcends all cultural barriers.
Consider by many to be the art capital of the world, Berlin is home to a wide range of cultures and styles, and children are also invited to appreciate German art and the creative spirit. Theater o.N. started in East Germany and continues today to develop an inventive approach to theater focused on youngsters age two and up, as well as adolescents. Located on Kollwitzstraße, Theater o.N. appeals to all the senses, to the discovery of our senses of sight, sound and touch. Rather than simply tell a story, it provides a way for even the littlest ones to explore and discover the world on their own.
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