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12 masterpieces of Berlin architecture to visit on Open Monument Day

Get a peak into Berlin's most interesting buildings and architectural marvels on Open Monument Day event.

Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Ritter

The 30th edition of Open Monument Day will take place over two days (September 9 & 10) and will open the doors to all sorts of usually inaccessible buildings across the city. And all for free! We’ve chosen twelve amazing buildings worth visiting this Open Monument Day, to explore Berlin’s diverse architectural heritage.

Schulfarm Insel Scharfenberg

Photo: IMAGO / Manja Elsässer

You’ll have to suspend disbelief for a moment here, but we can assure you this is absolutely true – on an island in Tegeler See, there is a 100 year old boarding school, which pupils have to reach by ferry. Yup, for real. Normally the school is closed to curious visitors, but not so on Open Monument Day. Come along for guided tours on Saturday.

  • Schulfarm Insel Scharfenberg Tegel, Schwarzer Weg 103, Tegel, Sep 9, tours at 11:00-14:30 at half hour intervals. The meeting point is at the ferry.

DDR State Council building

Photo: IMAGO / Hoch Zwei Stock / Angerer

The Imperial City Palace building was destroyed in a controlled blast in the 1950s leaving only the main entrance. This feature was later integrated into a DDR architectural masterpiece. Today, ironically, the building houses a private business school which charges sky high tuition fees. Even us plebs will be allowed through the doors on the Open Monuments Day.

  • Staatsratsgebäude der DDR, Schloßpl. 1, Mitte, Sep 10, tours at 11:00-16:00 every hour, meeting in the foyer.

Mies van der Rohe Siedlung

Photo: IMAGO / Günter Schneider

Mies van der Rohe is one of the best-known modernist architects and he left a lasting mark on Berlin. Not only did he design the Neue Nationalgalerie, but also this residential complex in Wedding along Afrikaner Straße. Come along for a guided tour and to learn more about the design genius behind this leafy neighbourhood.

  • Mies van der Rohe Siedlung Berlin Afrikanische Str., Wedding, Sep 9, 12:00-14:00, meeting point at Gemeindesaal der Kapernaum-Kirche, Seestr. 35; Sep 10, 12:00, meeting point at Am Kiezhaus Agnes Reinhold, Afrikanische Str. 74.

International Congress Centre

Photo: IMAGO / Joko

This is possibly the visit we’re most excited about, with the chance to explore the architectural icon from 1979 that is the ICC. Several plans have been mooted for using the space, but none have as yet gone ahead. Visitors will get the chance to look behind the scenes of this futuristic masterpiece over the weekend. It’s currently fully booked, but they have said they’re planning to release more tickets. Check here and you might get lucky.

  • ICC, Messedamm 22, West End, Sep 9&10.

The Italian Embassy

Photo: IMAGO / Schöning

The massive palazzo like building of the Italian embassy was built between 1939 and 1941 by the architect Friedrich Hetzelt, who also built Hermann Göring’s famous Carinhall country estate. It was damaged during the war, and only renovated fully after reunification. The neoclassical design style building was clad in Italian limestone for that extra authentic look.

  • Botschaft der Italienischen Republik Tiergartenstr. 22, Tiergarten, Sep 9, tours at 10:00 and 12:00, meeting point 15 minutes before the start tame at the entrance, bring ID.

Jewish Cemetery at Weißensee

Photo: IMAGO / Schöning

The Jewish cemetery at Weißensee is one of four in Berlin, and the largest in Europe. Join Dr Monika Wittig for a tour on Sunday with the theme ‘admirable restorations do not immediately catch the eye’. It’s a wonderfully peaceful place to visit.

  • Jüdischer Friedhof Weißensee, Herbert-Baum-Str. 45, Weißensee, Sun 10, tour at 10:00, register for a place on the tour by emailing [email protected].


Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Ritter

This 1970s apartment block was nicknamed the ‘Wohnmaschine’ or ‘living machine’, and is one of those ones you either love or you hate. The French architect Le Corbusier originally designed the building under the name “Unité d’Habitation, type Berlin” for the building exhibition “Interbau 1957”. There was no space for a skyscraper of this size in Hansaviertel where it was originally planned for, so it was built in Westend instead. You can visit one of the apartments, as well as an exhibition, ‘Loud Plastic’, as part of Open Monument Day.

  • Corbusierhaus, Flatowallee 16, Westend, Sep 9&19, exhibition runs 14-18 Uhr.

Wilmersdorf Mosque

Photo: IMAGO / Schöning

The Wilmersdorf mosque is the oldest in Germany, built between 1924 and 1928, on the corner of Brienner and Berliner Straße, according to plans by the Berlin architect Karl August Herrmann. The mosque is modeled after the Persian-Indian style of the Taj Mahal. It has been renovated recently in the run up to its 100th birthday next year, so it’ll be looking particularly magnificent.

  • Wilmersdorfer Moschee, Brienner Str. 7/8, Wilmersdorf, Sep 9&10, 11:00-17:00.

Kino International

Photo: IMAGO / Val Thoermer

Take a guided tour through the DDR’s premiere cinema on Karl-Marx-Allee. Large panoramic windows on the first floor overlook the busy street, with wood-panelled walls behind you and mighty chandeliers overhead. It’s a beautiful example of DDR socialist architecture.

  • Kino International, Karl-Marx-Allee 33, Mitte, Sep 9, tours at 12:00 and 14:00, meeting point at the ticket office.

Stadtbad Lichtenberg

Photo: IMAGO / Hohlfeld

Open Monument Day is an exciting opportunity to see inside the magnificent Lichtenberg public baths. It opened in 1928, with two swimming pools, a sauna area, massage rooms, a gym and a sun terrace. Unfortunately the public baths were closed down in 1991 due to construction defects, and it now houses the rather less exciting Lichtenberg ‘Anlaufstelle für Bürgerbeteiligung’ (contact point for citizen participation). Check out our other recommendations for Berlin’s hidden gems.

  • Stadtbad Lichtenberg, Hubertusstr. 47, Lichtenberg, Sep 10, 10:00-16:00.


Photo: IMAGO / Max Müller

You’ll need to bring a torch for this tour of Nordbahnhof, not much of which remains to this day. Only the S-Bahn still runs there underground. The station has been out of use since it was closed in 1963. As part of Open Monument Day you will have the opportunity to visit a pedestrian tunnel that has been closed since 1952.

  • Nordbahnhof, Invalidenstr. 131, Mitte, Sep 10, 13:00, register by emailing [email protected].

Gutshaus Hohenschönhausen

Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Ritter

Hohenschönhausen is mostly home to prefab buildings, with the notable exception of this crumbling old manor house. A campaign to renovate it was initiated in 1998, and it will hopefully be finished by 2024. Open Monument Day will be an opportunity to find out the current status of the renovations, and to learn about the building’s history.

  • Gutshaus Hohenschönhausen, Hauptstr. 44, Hohenschönhausen, Sep 9, exhibition from 12:00, tours 13:00-17:00.

For full details of the participating buildings, tour times and tickets click here.

This article was adapted from the German by Poppy Smallwood.