There are many debates about where the real centre of Berlin is, but Alexanderplatz, with its teetering tower and retail therapy, is certainly a contender.
Alexanderplatz may not be one of the most beautiful areas in the city, yet, despite the surrounding 1960s Communist-era architecture, it remains one of the most popular meeting places for locals.
The area gets its name from Russian Tsar Alexander I, and was the hub of East Germany during the Cold War. Nowadays it has thrown off its socialist shackles to become a Western metropolitan centre.
Alexanderplatz is great for shoppers, boasting a wealth of retail chains such as H&M and German department stores Alex and Kaufhof. For foodies there are dozens of restaurants and cafes, as well as a big square full of outdoor food stalls – the ideal place to sample some traditional German food. Make sure you try the Berlin favourite currywurst (a sliced sausage in spicy ketchup) and wash it down with a traditional stein of beer. Street performers are also common entertainment around the area.
Visitors to Berlin will have noticed the huge needle-shaped behemoth towering over the city; that's also in Alexanderplatz. The Ferneshturm (TV Tower) was built in the late 1960s to symbolise East German nationalist pride, and remains today as one of Berlin's most conspicuous landmarks.
For those afraid of heights, the 368-metre trip to the top may seem daunting, but the panoramic view of the whole of Berlin, including famous landmarks like the Reichstag Building, the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, makes it an experience you won't want to miss. The viewing platform is open every day, all year, until midnight. However, it is one of the most popular attractions in Berlin, so it is advisable to book tickets in advance.
At the top, visitors can enjoy a drink with their view, as the Fernsehturm includes a bar, with happy hour from 2 to 4 pm daily, and a restaurant that serves lunch and dinner. The full rotation takes an hour, so the view is always changing.
Alexanderplatz is well-serviced by U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations so is easy to reach. You will find it in the Mitte district, which literally means 'centre'.