Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
If you don´t know Tempelherrenstrasse in Kreuzberg 10961 then I can only say: “Why?!”
This might be the prettiest street this borough has to offer – and I am not saying I am right but you do know I am, don´t you? Even now, when it´s so grey and flat outside that one begins to wish somebody gave reality a run with some Photoshop tweaking, Tempelherrenstrasse keeps exuding its magic.
The street is rather short. With its 250 metres it looks like a dwarf next to the Goliath of the almost 2-kilometre-long Urbanstrasse. But in terms of architecture the stretch between Blücherstrasse/Urbanstrasse and Carl-Herz-Ufer is a gem.
Even though quite many of the buildings disappeared during the last war, the air of old Berlin – much quieter and slower – is still there. Not even the 1950s troll-of-a-house on the corner of Tempelherrenstrasse and Joahnniterstrasse can spoil that. At the back of that house, by the way, you will find one of the nicest small garages in Kreuzberg – your little car will be kindly serviced in a place that looks like a film set for one of the funny-but-intellectual Czechoslovakian films from the 1950s.
In 1868 the street, until then known as Strasse Nr. 3, Abt. II des Bebauungsbplanes, was named after the Knights Templar or the Templars as they were also called (you will find the mention of the order on this blog in the post devoted to Johannistisch). The inspiration for it, just as in the case of Johnniterstrasse, was the Order of St John – the original owners of the land between today´s Landwehrkanal and the southern edges of today´s Tempelhof.
That included every piece of soil around today´s Heiliger Kreuz Kirche and the spot where the famous Johannistisch used to be. By the way, Johanniterstrasse crosses Tempelherrenstrasse more less in its middle thus forming, surprise, a cross.“St. Anthony´s” or “Advent Cross” if you ignore Wilmsstrasse as the extension of Johanniter – but a cross nevertheless. That´s Kreuzberg for you: profound symbolism next to every Hundehaufen.
Of course, Tempelherrenstrasse is at its most enchanting on summer evenings when at dusk the gas lamps are already on. But it pays to go and see it every other season, as well. In winter lack of foliage means you can have a proper look at, for instance, the five houses forming the so called Denkmalgeschutztes Ensemble Tempelherrenstrasse. The houses from No. 2 to 5 are all heritage listed buildings – unique and protected by law.
Tempelherrenstrasse No. 2, the oldest of them all, was built in 1881 by Hermann Pape. No. 3 – beautifully renovated only three years ago and as such unaffordable in terms of property-through-tenancy – owes its singular charm to W. Rohrschneider. The house next door, No. 4, was designed by W. Dräger and its neighbour, No. 5 with its rather unusual shade of blue and fantastic red ivy all over it, by Friedrich and Daniel Sittel.
And last but not least: in Tempelherrenstrasse almost on the corner of Carl-Herz-Ufer I found my only original ICGA or Imperial-Continental-Gas-Association gas street-lamp so far (ICGA operated right across the canal from here, where Prinzenbad is today). I have been searching for them high and low (sometimes literally for you have to bend a lot to read inscriptions) till one day walking back home from the Landwehrkanal, looking with disgust at all the dog turds lining my way, lo and behold!, next to one medium-sized specimen there it was. The lamp-post from The Past.
I guess it´s right what the creative crowd say: if you keep your eyes open, even a piece of shite can be an inspiration.