Extending east from the popular Friedrichshain district of Berlin is a utilitarian residential neighborhood with some of East Berlin’s most curious landmarks.
Removed from the crowds and glamour of central Berlin, this largely residential neighborhood holds the key to the sinister side of East Germany. Tour Lichtenberg to see its Soviet-style architecture, sprawling housing projects and elaborate headquarters of the East German secret police, the Stasi. Reasonably undeveloped since the fall of the wall, Lichtenberg offers intriguing insight into the former country and a somber reminder of the atrocities committed by its authorities.
Reach Lichtenberg aboard the M6 or M8 trams for a true East Berlin experience. Only the eastern side of the wall has trams while the former West Berlin depends on a system of buses. Look at the towering housing projects that dominate the sides of Lichtenberg’s wide streets. The area underwent rapid development during the 1970s and today remains a great example of DDR architecture.
Visit two of Berlin’s most haunting historic sites, dedicated to the history of the Stasi. The former headquarters of the secret police has been converted into a comprehensive museum following the demise of East Germany. Visit the Stasimuseum in House 1 of the headquarters to explore a permanent exhibit called State Security in the SED Dictatorship.
Find the former Stasi prison a bit north to learn about the cruel and secretive conditions in which prisoners were kept. Converted to a memorial in 1994, the Hohenschonhausen is today a moving and important historical site. Glance inside the tiny cells where prisoners were confined and learn many of their stories.
Lift your spirits with a trip to Berlin’s lesser-known zoo. Tierpark Berlin was the largest zoo in East Germany and remains among the largest zoos by area in Europe. See more than 6,500 animals from more than 750 species as you explore the park.
Lichtenberg’s diverse population presents varied cuisines to sample as you explore the area. Considered East Berlin’s Chinatown, the area is a hub for Asian restaurants. Enter the cavernous Dong Xuan Center for traditional Vietnamese street food and a bustling environment.