9. Berlin: Nicolai Quarter Self-Guided Audio Tour
Berlin’s medieval past is often cast into the shadows by its more recent and turbulent history. Yet the early centuries after its founding in the 1300s are quite enthralling, as you’ll soon find out on this walking tour around the Nicolai Quarter, the city’s birthplace. I’ll take you back in time and tell you about the fascinating events that occurred in the area, step by step.
Our tour starts in Lustgarten park, in front of the Humboldt Forum, where I’ll paint a picture of Emperor William II declaring war on Russia in 1914. From there, we’ll go further back in time to the 1700s and 1800s to arrive at the oldest residential building in Berlin, Ribbeck House. You’ll then enter the Nicolai Quarter where I’ll point out the buildings that have survived, those that have been torn down and rebuilt, and the ones that the government of East Germany added in 1987, to fit in with the area's medieval surrounds. Stepping out of the Nicolai Quarter, you’ll see Marienkirche (St Mary’s Church), the sole survivor of another medieval section of Berlin which was unfortunately completely destroyed in the war.
On this medieval walking tour, you’ll also have a chance to:
• Spot some of Berlin’s top sites and some of its most missed ones too, including the Berlin Cathedral, a statue of St George slaying the dragon, Berlin’s City Hall, Neptunbrunnen (Neptune Fountain), and Luther Monument
• Get familiar with the White Lady, a ghost that used to haunt the Hohenzollern Palace
• Hear about Veitel Ephraim, a Jewish jeweller without whom Frederic II would not have won the 7-year War
• Understand why the Middle Ages are also referred to as the Dark Ages
• Go inside two of the oldest churches in Berlin, St Mary’s Church and St. Nicholas’ Church, both from the 1300s
• Find out who Hans Kohlhase was and how he relates to the character Michael Kohlhaas in the eponymous novel on which the movie Ragtime was based
• Learn more about the history of Jews in Berlin
• See the newly restored Dance of Death, a medieval fresco in St Mary’s Church
• Discover where you can find remains of the medieval wall
• Have a beer in one of Berlin’s oldest restaurants, Zum Nussbaum
This hour-long tour ends at Marx-Engels-Forum, close to where it started. So get ready for a memorable walk back in time to the very beginning of Berlin!