• Berlin
  • What are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Berlin?


What are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Berlin?

We take a look at some of the locations across Berlin that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The Britz horseshoe settlement by the architect Bruno Taut. Photo: Imago/Günter Schneider

How many UNESCO World Heritage Sites do you think there are in Berlin? The answer might surprise you. 

The title is awarded to locations around the world which show a “cultural and natural heritage… considered to be of outstanding value to humanity” (does this rule out Berghain?), but the listed spots in the city show a broader range than you might expect. 

Alongside the more familiar places like Museum Island and some Prussian palaces, there are modernist social housing projects and a garden city famed for its brightly coloured design.

Check out our list to find out which Berlin locations join the likes of the pyramids, the Great Wall of China and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia.

Reinickendorf: The White City 

The White City. Photo: Imago/Jürgen Ritter

In the late 1920s, Berlin was struggling under an urgent need for a lot more social housing. Martin Wagner, head of municipal planning, commissioned Bruno Ahrends, Wilhelm Büning and Otto Rudolf Salvisberg to build 1,200 apartments in Reinickendorf. 

To reduce costs, he lifted some requirements such as standardised floor heights and room sizes, meaning the architects suddenly had a lot more freedom. Inspired by the clear edges and simple facades of the Bauhaus movement, the White City is nicknamed for the shining white exteriors of all of the buildings. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.

  • The White City, Aroser Allee, Reinickendorf

Prenzlauer Berg: Carl Legien’s home town 

Residential town of Carl Legien in Prenzlauer Berg. Photo: Imago/Petra Schneider

Named after the trade union leader Carl Legien, this social housing estate in the north of Prenzlauer Berg was also built as part of the urgent attempt at economic recovery during the Weimar Republic. 

During this period of crisis and chaos, state intervention was seen as the best way to stimulate the economy. The estate follows plans by Bruno Taut and Franz Hillinger that balance high-density housing with a sense of nature and space.

  • Residential town of Carl Legien, Erich-Weinert-Straße, Prenzlauer Berg

Treptow: Garden City of Falkenberg

The listed garden city of Falkenberg in Treptow. Photo: Copyright: Imago/Sven Lambert

Inspired by the English Garden City movement, which pursued new social and political possibilities in residential architecture, Bruno Taut embarked on building a housing estate with a sense of community for the overpopulated city of Berlin. 

The Garden City of Falkenberg is iconic for its striking colours and playful designs and aims to resemble a peaceful village idyll, with unique houses clustered around cosy courtyards. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.

  • Garden City Falkenberg, Akazienhof 4, Treptow

Neukölln: Britz Horseshoe Estate

The Britz horseshoe settlement by the architect Bruno Taut. Photo: Imago/Günter Schneider

This is one of Berlin’s largest social housing projects. Built in the late 1920s, its architects Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner were determined to reject the confines of gloomy tenements that often defined housing for the city’s poorest. With human dignity as the main focus, the “Horseshoe Estate” was named as such for the curved structure of the main residential area. Large galleries, an impressive staircase and bright apartments, this estate represented an attempt to offer an alternative to what was seen as the social misery of many big cities.

  • Horseshoe Estate, Fritz-Reuter-Allee, Neukölln

Wedding: Schillerpark housing estate

Settlements of Berlin Modernism: Schillerpark Settlement. Photo: Imago/Jürgen Ritter

In the English Quarter in Wedding, not far from the Rehberge U-Bahn station, you can find the Schillerpark estate. Again this is the work of Bruno Taut, and it is thought of as one of the most successful examples of Weimar architecture. 

The use of dark red brick is a reference to the modern ideas of the Amsterdam School, and the flat roofs were among the first of their kind used in Berlin. Initially, it was mainly left-wing politicians, trade unionists and intellectuals who lived in the new “people’s apartments”, hence the estate was popularly referred to as the “Red Bonzenburg”.

  • Schillerpark housing estate, Oxforder Strasse corner, Bristol Strasse, Wedding

Mitte: Museum Island

The most famous monuments of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Berlin are located on the Museum Island. Photo: Imago/Zoonar.com/el eneize

Of course, we have to mention Museum Island. This Mitte destination is one of the major visitor spots in Berlin and arguably the most important museum complex in Europe. And it’s not only tourists who spend many hours exploring its five impressive museums, Berliners also flock to the historic buildings, looking to be transported to another time by the collections. This iconic part of the city has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.

  • Museum Island, between the Spree and Kupfergraben, Mitte

Charlottenburg and Spandau: Siemensstadt housing estate

Siemensstadt housing estate on Jungfernheideweg. Photo: Imago/Jürgen Ritter

Again commissioned by Martin Wagner, the Siemensstadt housing estate was built as a residential area for the workers of the Siemens factories. The estate is a model example of progressive housing construction, with its large open spaces, lots of greenery and simple shapes. 

Built by 6 famous architects, you can experience the distinctive style of each of them as you walk around the estate. While it did suffer extensively during the Second World War, the 1,379-apartment UNESCO World Heritage Site still stands distinctively in Charlottenburg and Spandau.

  • Siemensstadt housing estate between Jungfernheideweg, Heckerdamm and Goebelstraße, Charlottenburg and Spandau

Potsdam: Prussian palaces and gardens

View of the Marble Palace in Potsdam. Photo: Imago/Camera4/Eberhard Thonfeld

The Palaces of Potsdam are famed not only for their beauty but also their quantity. With over 150 buildings set in 500 hectares of parks, the extensive area on the border of Berlin and Potsdam has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990. Frederick the Great acquired the “wüsten Berg”, or “desert mountain”, in 1744 so as to have a summer palace built for him by the painter and master builder Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. 

The subsequent castle and large park are set alongside a world-renowned collection of gardens and are connected to numerous other palaces, such as Cecilienhof Palace and the elegant Marble Palace. Less than an hour from the city centre, Potsdam makes the perfect cultural day trip.

  • Prussian palaces and gardens, between Sanssouci Palace and Glienicke in Berlin