Strausberger Platz wouldn’t be Strausberger Platz without its fountain. During winter it might be possible to overlook it, but in summer it is indisputably the pounding heart of the square. Not only does the water spray meters high, but if the sunlight is coming from the right angle, you’ll see rainbows and if the wind is blowing from the right direction, there is a mist of water floating all over the square. Yes, I’ve been observing the fountain very closely. I’ve also seen people sitting on the fountain’s edge or picnicking in the grass in front of it. A bit weird, I thought at first.
The most beautiful fountain in Berlin
Until temperatures passed the 30 degrees Celsius mark and all I wanted was water. My boyfriend and I had been working from our home office that morning and we bought some Brötchen at a tiny bakery just behind Karl-Marx-Allee. The only table, which blocked the fridge where the drinks are kept, was occupied by a man who must have been there since the day the bakery opened (1960, I suppose). We decided to eat our lunch somewhere else and ended up walking straight towards the fountain. Cold water to put our feet in and, when positioned in the right place, towers of water blocking the direct sunlight – best lunch spot ever.
Is there a better place to drink your Feierabendbier?
Let’s make Berlin the next Warsaw
Suddenly I started to understand the strange people hanging out around this fountain, seemingly unbothered by the 50,000 cars going past Strausberger Platz every day. When you’re as close to the fountain as we were, you don’t even notice the cars anymore. All you see is the dancing water, the beautiful buildings surrounding the square and the Fernsehturm looking out over the city. All you hear is the rushing water, all you feel is its refreshing coldness. Now I wondered why more people weren’t sitting here.
I realised Strausberger Platz could be to Berlin what Zbawiciela Square is for Warsaw: a space where people gather day and night, having a drink in a beautiful Stalinist ambience. In Warsaw, all it took was one club (Plan B) to make the square, according to Spotted by Locals, ‘Hipsters’ square’. And even though I wouldn’t like to call myself a hipster, I loved the vibe in this square, the combination of socialist architecture and tons of young people.
Zbawiciela Square in Warsaw, image courtesy of wawabeginner.wordpress.com
And there are more resemblances to Warsaw: from Zbawiciela Square it’s only a short walk to the big Lazienski Park, just as it takes only five minutes to get from Strausberger Platz to Volkspark Friedrichshain. Both are lovely parks, but the difference is that in the middle of Lazienski Park you’ll find a small open-air bar that sells drinks all night. Around it, dozens of people sit on the slopes to drink beer, make music or play badminton.
Lazienski Park, the Volkspark Friedrichshain of Warsaw, image courtesy of wawabeginner.wordpress.com
We can start with a Späti
If it’s possible in Warsaw, then why not in Berlin? And why not at Strausberger Platz, Berlin’s Zbawiciela Square? Sure, Berlin already has so much to offer. But I had a great night in Warsaw, starting at Plan B, followed by a few beers in the park and to finish off some dancing back at Plan B – how nice would it be to do that in Berlin, with my bed waiting for me at the same square? But as long as no hipster bar opens its doors at Strausberger Platz and no bar stays open all night in Volkspark Friedrichshain, we can at least make our beloved square the place to have a Feierabendbier. A bit like the steps at Frankfurter Tor or Modersohnbrücke, except with grass to sit on and, in the heat of the summer, water to put your feet in.
Some people have already discovered the many opportunities of Strausberger Platz
One thing is missing if we want to make this happen: a Späti or some other store selling beer and sodas. So let’s start with opening one of those. I’ll be the first customer and will make sure to bring some friends – every night of the week, if necessary. Do you want to play guitar, badminton or jeu de boules? There’s enough grass for everyone at the centre of Strausberger Platz. And once the square has been declared the place to be for a Feierabendbier, I’m sure it can’t be long before Plan B opens its Berlin establishment right here. Needless to say, it would be even better than the one in Warsaw, because we have 50,000 cars, a bigger square and a better fountain – and it’s Berlin.
PS: Thinking of opening a (good!) falafel bar? Why not do it at Strausberger Platz! Your falafel would go very nicely with the beers from the Späti.