For Fall/Winter ‘20 we visited the streets around Savignyplatz in the western side of the city. This was the beating, cultural heart of ‘80s West Berlin. The bohemian, cultural and artistic enclave slips under the radar of most visitors. It’s where aeyde feels naturally at home.
The streets of Bleibtraustrasse, Kantstrasse and others in the square mile north of Kurfürstendamm make up the area known as Savignyplatz. Centred around the park of the same name, this is a residential district of artists and intellectuals: the secret cosmopolitan heart of Berlin.
The clubs and bars that made West Berlin nightlife famous were dotted all around Savignyplatz, and the area was the focus of ‘60s student demonstrations. Cultural figures like David Bowie and Iggy Pop could be spotted here in the ‘80s. The cafe clientele was a mix of artists, creatives and opportunists, ready to soak up Berlin.
Savignyplatz Park is in the centre of the neighbourhood. The urban park was laid out in 1862, inspired by the Haussmann renovations in Paris earlier in the century. The small square of green is a welcome respite from bustling Ku’damm to the south. It’s a place to take in the fresh air, watch sparrows dance, and practice bohemian musings.
The streets around the park are filled with galleries and exhibition spaces. On the corner of Bleibtraustrasse, Hotel Mond is located in a beautiful pre-war building with turrets and huge windows. Across the road, Galerie Max Hetzler shows contemporary art by leading international artists in their first Berlin location, opened in 1994.
On Kantstrasse, the famous Paris Bar is filled with photos of all the actors and film stars who have dined there since it opened in 1950. It famously serves the best steak frites in town. This was once the West Berlin restaurant to see and be seen in, and a coffee on the front terrace is still an excellent place to watch the world go by.
Today the Savignyplatz district has a real neighbourhood feel, filled as it is with bookshops, bakeries, florists and the like. It still attracts an intellectual, bohemian crowd. They rub shoulders with the alte 68, the once-youthful radical students of the 60s, who never left this intellectual corner of Berlin.