Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin


Berlin is a city on the move. Like the people who live here it is permanently restless, forever going somewhere but never really getting there, its roots never reach deep in case next marching orders were to come. Human masses circle around it in a huge urban whirlpool.

Luckily, at least since the war buildings stay where they are. Or do they?

On March 21, 1996 Berlin witnessed what must have been its most spectacular moving: the historical Kaisersaal (Emperor´s Hall), a magnificent banquet room at the old “Hotel Esplanade” used almost exclusively by Kaiser Wilhelm II for his “gentleman evenings” with friends, found itself relocated 75 metres further from its original spot in the old Bellevuestraße 16-18a. It had to make room for the new Sony Center. In fact, it was cleverly integrated into it and remains there until today.

The Kaisersaal and the Speisesaal (Restaurant Room) from the Esplanade Hotel (the Speisesaal had been dismantled and its 500 pieces brought together again later to become a new establishment at the Sony Center, called “Josty”) were two of the few remains of the old, legendary Berlin hotel. They also included the hotel foyer and the basement with a grand kitchen serving 1,000 (the crockery for the same number survived WWII as well) and the bathrooms – one of these bathrooms, fitted with elegant marble pissoirs was allegedly used by the Kaiser. In 1996 it was duly moved along with the Kaisersaal, too.

But before the moving the remains of the old hotel built in 1907-1912 right off Potsdamer Platz and after the war known simply as the “Esplanade”, served Berliners as an event venue. Balls took place there, concerts, dancing parties (especially the afternoon tea-time dances were well-loved by the locals and guests from outside the city) and when things began to get a bit hard – the building was getting down in years and visitor numbers sunk because of the location directly at the Berlin Wall – film-crews discovered the place.

The scene below, featuring Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, was filmed in 1986 in the historical Kaisersaal and is the final scene in Wim Wenders´s 1987 classic “Der Himmel über Berlin” (the US title was, in an inexplicably amateurish way, translated as “Wings of Desire”).


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