One of Berlin’s best-loved fleamarkets offers plenty of browsing, decent eats and a fantastic atmosphere…
Although it’s smaller now due to the park’s handsome new overhaul (don’t worry, there’s some gritty parts left), the flea market most beloved by Berliners and tourists alike has to be the one that takes place every Sunday next to the Mauerpark.
You’ll find it along Bernauer Strasse—just follow the trails of people walking in either direction, past the rows of bikes, ethnic eateries and mobile sausage vendors to the large set of gates that lead into a large industrial space, normally used as a storage and commercial area.
Arrive before 11am and you’ll have at least a bit of elbow room; any later and you’ll have to be content with being carried along with the huddles of hungover students, bargain hunters, families and bemused-looking, shade-wearing clubbers who’s Saturday night has yet to end.
It’s a happy-go-lucky scene. Billowing reggae basslines and tinny techno beats provide a soundtrack of sorts; headscarfed Turkish women fry delicious Gözleme on their domed hobs, and the loose grid of food stalls, clothes shops and nostalgic junk seems to extend forever.
What kinds of stalls? Well you can buy everything from bike parts and badges, 1950s cutlery sets and faded jigsaws, new and vintage clothes, GDR memorabilia, cats on strings, banana telephones and record players, bibles, watering cans, vinyl. Lots of vinyl in fact.
As with most flea-markets around the world, there’s a decent amount of what might uncharitably be called ‘junk’. But while it’s likely that the genuine bargains of yesteryear aren’t quite so common these days, we have it on good authority that you can also find genuine antiques (the best spots are at the back, apparently).
Then there’s the food. Samosas, pakoras and yogi tea from the vegetarian stall; waffles made with jelly and bio ice cream in the summer; and you have to check out the open air beer garden Schoenwetter, where you can try bio sausages, tasty dinnele (Flammkuchen) straight out of the oven and lecker Strudel.
Adjacent to the market you’ll find the actual Mauerpark, a strip of landscaped green that was once the site of the Berlin Wall and the associated death strip. Going back further, to the nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries, the site was the location of various railway termini, such as the Old Nordbahnhof that connected Berlin with Stralsund and the Baltic Sea, and the Stettiner Bahnhof.
When the Wall went up in 1961 the station was closed and then demolished. When it fell in 1989 the strip was designated as a public space and transformed into a green area by local residents. Today it forms a pleasant annex (albeit unofficial, since the land is owned by different people) to the flea-market.
Loomed over by the Friedrich Ludwig Jahn Stadium and the Max Schmelling Halle, the Mauerpark happily now brings people together rather than divide them, especially in the warmer months when you’ll find everything from temporary kid’s parks to DJs.
And you have to check out the karaoke sessions in the s0-called bear-pit, which attracts massive crowds between 1.30 and 5pm (weather depending). A great mix of serious singing talent and insouciant community vibe.
Even in colder weather the market draws decent numbers. And if you’re interested in learning more about the Wall, just stroll further down Bernauerstraße, where you’ll find the Berlin Wall Memorial (open all year round) and the insightful Visitor Center.
For more info, check out the market’s website.