The most iconic, busiest and most vibrant squares in Berlin. Most people know Potsdamer Platz Berlin for its futuristic architecture and contemporary shopping area but its history is just as impressive. So let’s learn all about the most important events that took place on and around Potsdamer Platz.
Potsdam to Berlin
Neighbouring city Potsdam gave its name to Potsdamer Platz in the seventeenth century as the square connected Berlin to Potsdam. It was back then that Potsdamer Platz already operated as a marketplace between the province’s rural areas and Berlin. Frederick the Great would make Potsdamer Platz’ importance even bigger mid 18-the century as it marked the route to his Potsdamer castle.
Because the square was just outside of Berlin’s city limits – and therefor its restrictions – it would develop more freely than other city squares in Berlin. So Potsdamer Platz Berlin was famous for its extravagance and adventurous and carefree character. By the end of the 19th century Potsdamer Platz had its own train station and consisted of a colourful collective of shops, restaurants and trading posts. By the 1920s Potsdamer Platz was the busiest square in Europe and attracted a fun crowd of adventurers, merchants, entertainers and creatives. And in 1924, Potsdamer Platz had the honor of having the very first traffic lights in Europe.
Second World War
But during the Second World War, most of Potsdamer Platz would be destroyed. It served as the location for a secret black market for a short while after the war until it completely demolished in 1953. As its location was exactly between East and West Berlin, the former square would remain a piece of no man’s land until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Thanks to huge commercial investments in the area in the 1990s and 2000s, Potsdamer Platz has reclaimed its fame s and is now one of the most modern parts of Berlin. Although some say it lost its frivolous character and is now way too elegant with all its shiny buildings…
You can still see a small piece of the Berlin Wall on Potsdamer Platz. It is surrounded by pictures that take you back to the Cold War era.
Cover photo by Yves Sorge