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  • Stunning staircases: A guide to Berlin’s most amazing steps


Stunning staircases: A guide to Berlin’s most amazing steps

Brutalist, Baroque, palatial, 'Plattenbau' - Berlin's architectural styles run the gamut, and the secret staircases across the city are no exception.

Neu Kirche (Deutscher Dom)

Photo: Imago/Photothek

The German Cathedral at the Gendarmenmarkt is a grand old Baroque structure on the outside, but its interior is starkly Brutalist. First built in 1708, the Cathedral was heavily damaged by allied bombing and burnt down in 1943. Between 1982 and 1996, the structure was gradually restored and since 1992 has been home to the Parliamentary History Exhibition of the German Bundestag (tracing the development of democracy in the country). Visitors aren’t able to climb the tower, but you can still get an impressive view up the spire from the Cathedral’s foyer.

  • Gendarmenmarkt 1-2, Mitte, click here for more information.

Pfaueninsel Palace

Photo: Imago/Thonfeld

Sadly, the palace on Pfaueninsel (or Peacock Island) has been closed to the public since 2018. And it will remain that way for at least a few more years due to heavy construction. It’s expected to be restored to its original state by 2024 at a cost of around €5.5 million. Then, you’ll once again be able to admire the structure’s beautiful staircase, which was completed in 1795 and designed by master carpenter Johann Gottlieb Brendel as a retreat for Frederick William II.

  • Nikolskoer Weg, Wannsee, click here for more information.

Schönhausen Palace

Photo: SPSG/Günter Schneider

The Schönhausen Palace is steeped in history. Its ground floor is dedicated to Queen Elisabeth Christine, who spent her summers there in the 18th century and the upper floor is dedicated to the history of the GDR. In the 1930s, the Nazis used it as a storage facility for “degenerate art”. Under GDR rule, it served as the official residence of Wilhelm Pieck, the first and only president of the new socialist state. Today, Schönhausen Palace is a museum that explores its own history. By the way, a visit to the Schlosspark Pankow is also worthwhile!

  • Tschaikowskistr. 1, Pankow, click here for more information.

Haus des Rundfunks

Photo: daniel.stark from Potsdam/CC BY 2.0

Originally built in the early 1930s as a broadcasting building for the Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft, the building (and the radio broadcasts that came from it) were under Soviet control during the GDR era. Since 2003, it’s been headquarters to Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (or rbb).

  • Masurenallee 8-14, Westend, click here for more information.


Photo: Imago/Friedel

Maybe not the most striking at first glance, but this one’s got an interesting history. In 1958, three architecture students from the Weißensee School of Art won a contract to design a lookout tower on the Kleiner Müggelberg. They came up with this rectangular, 30-metre-high structure made of reinforced concrete known as The Müggelturm. Today, the tower is used by athletes for intense up-hill sprints and provides stunning views of the area’s lakes and forests.

  • Str. zum Müggelturm 1, Treptow-Köpenick, click here for more information.

Deutsches Historisches Museum

Photo: Imago/Steinert

Chinese-American architect Leoh Ming Pei (1917-2019) was one of the grand masters of classical modernism. He designed the glass pyramid in front of the Louvre, the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library next to Harvard University. In Berlin, he realised a relatively small project in 1997 with the German Historical Museum, which combines the traditional Prussian-style of the main building with contemporary aesthetics.

  • Unter den Linden 2, Mitte, click here for more information.

Neuer Pavillon

Photo: Imago/Imagebroker

You can find this charming little pavilion in the garden of the Charlottenburg Schloss. Designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the early 19th century, the Neuer Pavilion was inspired by the style of Italian villas. Today, visitors can ascend the wooden staircase and like royalty. The building is home to a collection of sculptures by Christian Daniel Rauch and paintings from the early 19th century.

  • Spandauer Damm 10-22, Charlottenburg, click here for more information.

Bristol am Kudamm

Photo: Imago/Ritter

Through the 50s, 60s and 70s, the Bristol (once known as the Bristol Kempinski) was one of the most popular and expensive hotels in the city – attracting major West German star power.

  • Bristol am Kudamm, Kurfürstendamm 27, Charlottenburg, click here for more information.


Photo: Ziatdelle Spandau

The Spandau Citadel is one of the best-preserved and most important fortresses of the High Renaissance in the whole of Europe. Inside the Citadel you’ll find the Juliusturm, with its 34 metre-high wooden staircase, parts of which even date back to the 13th century.

  • Am Juliusturm 64, Spandau, click here for more information.

Akademie der Künste

Photo: Andreas Süß

Directly on Pariser Platz, the Akademie der Künste was designed by Günter Behnisch in 2005. You can climb its impressive glass staircases to get a stunning view of Pariser Platz and Berlin’s famous Brandenburger Tor.

  • Pariser Platz 4, Tiergarten, click here for more information.

Alexianer St. Hedwig Hospital

Photo: Photo: Imago/Chromorange

When the cholera pandemic hit Berlin in the 19th century, the Prussian Protestant authorities established this hospital for the congregation of Hedwigskathedrale. Not only is the ivy-covered façade of the main structure impressive, the interior staircases (lined with stained-glass windows) are also remarkable.

  • Große Hamburger Str. 5-11, Mitte, click here for more information.

Tiergarten District Court in Moabit

Photo: Imago/Wagner

Europe’s largest criminal court (with more than 350 prosecutors and judges) is the Amtsgericht Tiergarten. Completed in 1906, the entrance hall of the neo-baroque building, is particularly special.

  • Turmstraße 91, Moabit, click here for more information.

Curious about some of Berlin’s other architectural gems? If you’re a fan of the Brutalist style, check out our list of the city’s most loved (and hated) examples. Feeling adventurous? We have a handy guide for exploring Berlin’s abandoned buildings.