Step into Berlin’s Nicholas district (Nikolaiviertel) for a look at what the city was like during the Middle Ages. Though many of the buildings were built after World War II, St. Nicholas Church (Nikolaikirche) remains the city’s oldest church, dating back to 1230. Today, the quaint area offers a break from the hustle and bustle of Berlin.The Basics
Back in the early 13th century, tradesmen and merchants settled where the road met the river, making Nikolaiviertel an ideal location. It was then used as a district for taverns, shops, workshops, and artists’ living quarters until its complete destruction during World War II. The neighborhood laid under rubble for most of the 20th century until the early 1980s, when its restoration began in the run-up to Berlin’s 750th anniversary celebrations.
Today, you can stroll through the Nicholas Quarter’s restored streets or on your own, or take a guided walking tour to learn more about what the city was like during the Middle Ages. Some sightseeing river cruises along the Spree include Nikolaiviertel as they float past a number of Berlin’s key landmarks.Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- Nikolaiviertel is a must-visit for those who want to get a feel for what Berlin was like before the 20th century.
- Many of the streets of Berlin are cobblestoned, so wear comfortable shoes to walk on the uneven surfaces.
- Visit Berlin’s oldest buildings, including St. Nicholas Church as well as buildings number 35 and 36 on Breite Strasse, both dating back to the 1600s.
The Nikolaiviertel, Berlin’s smallest district, lies adjacent to the popular Mitte neighborhood. The easiest way to arrive is via city bus 248 or M48; get off at the Nikolaiviertel stop. Alternatively, Alexanderplatz station is only a 10-minute walk from Nikolaiviertel and serves regional trains; overground lines S3, S5, S7, S9, and S75; and the U2, U5, and U8 underground lines.When to Get There
St. Nicholas Church hosts a free organ concert welcoming visitors every day at 5pm. The Nikolai Festival, at the end of August, celebrates what Berlin was like 100 years ago, while the Nikolaiviertel Christmas Market is one of the most relaxed in the city during the festive season. Generally the best time to visit Berlin is during the warmer, drier months of May through September.
Knoblauchhaus and Ephraim Palace
Adjacent to the medieval Nikolaikirche is the baroque-style Knoblauchhaus, a historical-home-cum-museum that offers insights into what life was like during the first half of the 19th century. Built in 1760, this free museum showcases furniture, objects, and documents that offer a look at upper-middle-class life during this era. Next door, the Rococo-style Ephraim Palace is a masterpiece of 18th-century palace architecture and hosts exhibits on a wide range of topics pertaining to the history and culture of Berlin.