Although a Budapest based blogger, there is one city that truly holds my heart – Berlin, Germany! Having spent two Summers there during University, I fell in love, and a weekend trip this month revisiting it and all of its gems refreshed the great memories. My favourite place in the city happens to be Mauer Park Fleamarket, the biggest fleamarket in Berlin.
The ParkThe fleamarket takes place on a site beside Mauer Park, a park steeped in history. It is situated in the Prenzlauerberg (or Prnzlbrg in cool speak) district of Berlin, just north of Mitte, the central business district. Mauer is the German word for wall, and the park is so-called because it is on the site of part of the infamous Berlin wall, which was dismantled in 1989. You can still see a thirty metre strip of the wall at the park. During the Summer, the park is a hive of activity and a place of blissful laziness not just on Sundays, but every day of the week. Groups of friends host barbeques, drink beers or play basketball for hours on end at the parks basketball court. There is a large stone amphitheatre where every Sunday around 3pm a guy called Joe hitches up his bike and speakers, and the insanely popular Bearpit Karaoke takes place. People sing, crowds boo or cheer, and you'll be lucky to find a spot to sit on the busiest days! During the Summer the long, sloping hill that characterises the park is awash with vibrant purple flowers. Climb it for the best views, to see or sit atop the remains of the graffiti adorned Berlin wall and of course to reach the famous long swings for an excellent Kodak moment over the city. Even if you aren't interested in rummaging through second hand treasures at the market, I highly recommend the park for a really chilled out daytime activity.
Getting thereThe main entrance to the park is on Bernauer Strasse. Take the U8 (Blue underground tram line) in the direction of Osloer Strasse or Wittenau. When you come up from the station, turn right. You really just have to follow the hoardes of locals and tourists heading to the market – it's a local institution! About five minutes walk up, you will see first the entrance to the market, and then the open park. There are further entrances to the market within the park, and also an entrance to the other end of the park from Gleimstrasse. This is useful if you are coming from Gesundbrunnen station – which various S bahns and regional trains stop at – but a little less straightforward, so I would recommend disembarking at Bernauer strasse if you don't know the city well.
The MarketNow, to the best bit! Being an avid second hand shopper, this fleamarket – or Flohmarkt in German – is heaven for me! Vendors begin to arrive early in the morning, and the market officially starts at 9am. Basic German will allow you to haggle – and please do, it's what fleamarkets are all about – but most if not all of the vendors have basic English. Things wrap up around 6pm. However, although some shoppers prefer to arrive early, in my experience it is just as good to arrive at 3, 4 even 5pm, when prices will be at their lowest! One of my favourite items from this market is a patterned nineties fleece blanket, which I bought for just €1 at 6pm one sunny evening. Other purchases include a silver ring with a ying yang stone for €4, and a huge German duffel bag for €15. If you aren't looking for something in particular, but just want an inexpensive impulse buy, stick to the stalls at the back and at the left hand side of the market, where ordinary folks have rented tables to shift a few unwanted items. Below is a green Puch bike, which a friend bought for €40, and used all Summer! The market is excellent for furniture, and you will find fabulous authentic pieces of history here. Just be prepared to transport it home! Below are some photos from one of the larger stalls that is there every week, they have amassed some amazing collections. Scores of young designers also sell their wares at the market, but be prepared to pay a little bit more for these items that the usual thrifted stuff. A little change since I last visited in 2013 is a larger food market area, now with plenty of benches for you to enjoy your snacks. Visiting in late February, my friends and I sampled the most typical of German fast food – currywurst – for €6 (with fries) and it did not dissapoint. For afters we had a waffle on a stick, doused with either white or milk chocolate, for €2.50. Other food stalls that I was too full to sample were a Korean Vegan food stall, and a Turkish family selling filled baked potatoes – the queue was huge on this one, must have been good!
Nearby – Berlin Wall MemorialFor an added piece of Berlin's history, a short walk down the road (or a left turn out of the Bernauer strasse U bahn station) will bring you to the Bernauer strasse Berlin Wall Memorial. The Berlin wall ran directly along Bernauer strasse, so those people with homes at this site were really caught in the middle. My favourite part of this was the open air section (open from 8am until 10pm). You can stand in the remains of the basements of old houses which were demolished to make way for the wall. On monitors, you can watch actual footage of people leaping out windows of these houses, sometimes as they were beginning to be bricked and cemented up. Many fatalities occurred here, as people jumped from their homes to avoid being trapped in East Berlin. A very worthwhile and informative place to learn about the history of the infamous Berlin Wall. There is also a visitor centre, open from 10am until 6pm. All details are available on their website.
In Short – Mauer Park Fleamarket
- Every Sunday from 9am – 6pm
- Getting there: U8 towards Osloer Strasse/Wittenau. Disembark: Bernauer Strasse.
- Food available (healthy; fast food).
- Afterwards: Karaoke in the adjoining park or short walk to Berlin Wall Memorial