Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
One of our alert readers spotted an interesting spelling mistake in our last post about the rules concerning the naming and (out of all things) the spelling of the Berlin street names.
As he also kindly remarked, the mistake is often made by both new and old Berliners, by foreigners and the Germans. And it regards “Prenzlauer Berg”.
As some of you might have noticed, I also used the wrong spelling (corrected by now:-) and spelled it as one word only: “Prenzlauerberg”. Funnily enough, my intuition usually tells me to make two words out of it but since I checked it in a newspaper or magazine once, probably misread it and wrote it down in big letters “One word!” in my Berlin-boroughs notebook, I often correct what I believe to be a spelling mistake and only then really make one.
But why is Prenzlauer Berg so tricky? Actually, it has something to do with all the other “-bergs” in town: there is Lichtenberg, there is Schöneberg and there is, of course, Kreuzberg. And all of these – having been named after objects or with adjectives, and not after places – are spelled as one word only.
But not Prenzlauer Berg – which, by the way, used to be called “Prenzlauer Tor” after the 1920 Great Berlin Reform and had the name changed to today´s only a year later. Prenzlauer Berg is named after a place: Prenzlau, one of the four the main towns in the historic Mark of Brandenburg. And as such, obviously, needs to be spelled as two words instead.
Something my brain first needs to come to terms with:-)
The coat of arms of the former borough of Prenzlauer Berg (the 2001 reform changed its status to that of a locality in the Borough of Pankow): with the windmill wings symbolising the windmills that used to stand near the historic Prenzlauer Tor (placed more less where the Soho House stands today), the grapes standing for the vineyards that covered the hilly area (same as in Kreuzberg, Schöneberg and Rixdorf) and the “Branntweine” produced thereof later, and, last but not least, hops for the many wonderful historic breweries.