A while ago I published a photo collection from a walk in Rixdorf, an old village long swallowed by the city of Berlin. A longer piece was submitted to Slow Travel Berlin and they published it today. Here is the beginning:
It is a grey day in Berlin, which makes the Sonnenallee feel all the more gloomy. I am meeting my friend and Neukölln resident Julia at her apartment so she can show me the way to Rixdorf, an old village that still – just about – exists within the confines of the S-Bahn ring despite being swallowed by the city over a hundred years ago.
As we walk south, away from Hermannplatz, there is not much in our surroundings that suggests village life. This corner of the city is one of traffic and noise, takeaways and internet cafes, the electronic stores offering up second hand gadgets and tobacconists selling calling cards to five different continents.
People often comment that Berlin, for the most part, does not have the feel of such a big city. It’s quite spread out, with plenty of green spaces. Its fractured nature means there is no real centre, and people tend to orientate themselves around their neighbourhoods. It never really feels as hectic as London, New York or Paris.
Still, there are places, such as the Müllerstraße in Wedding, or the Potsdamer Straße in Tiergarten, where you get that big city feeling, and Sonnenallee has it too. And so it makes the contrast all the more striking when you turn down the Richardstraße and find yourself walking amongst half-timbered farmhouses, old stables that have been renovated but still betray signs of their original function, and cobbled alleyways that are lit, on this gloomy day, by what appear to be gas lamps.