Public transport in Berlin has several layers.
There are buses, though in two visits I’ve only ever boarded one. Rail is faster and more comfortable – trams in the former East Berlin, alongside the U-Bahn (underground railway) and the S-Bahn (overground railway). Some services duplicate each other’s routes in places, and I found it easier to rely on signage at stops and on vehicles than to try to interpret the incompatible maps. Ticketing is simple: the day ticket [tageskarte] offers the run of the system.
I like to take time in any big city simply to hop on a bus, tram or train and see where it goes. Serendipity takes over at such a point.
With a couple of hours to spare one afternoon I took a westbound U2 train, trusting that I’d see something interesting when it eventually surfaced outside the central area. Sure enough, shortly before the train entered Bülowstraße station it passed close by a spectacular brick Gothic church.
The line went underground shortly afterwards, so I left the train at Wittenbergplatz and backtracked. Bülowstraße station is a fine Art Noveau structure dating from 1902, part of the city’s first U-bahn route, designed by Bruno Möhring (1863-1929).
Train services were severed when the Berlin Wall was built, and subsequently the station opened in 1980 as a bazaar and music restaurant which became a vibrant centre for the city’s Turkish community. The tracks within the trainshed were covered over, and for a few months a vintage streetcar shuttled along the viaduct between Bülowstraße station and a flea-market at Nollendorfplatz station. The station reopened in 1993.
The tall spire of the church I’d spotted is immediately visible from the street outside the station, though the building itself is difficult to photograph because of the surrounding trees.
It was originally built as the Luther Church [Lutherkirche] (1894), a rich and complex design by Johannes Otzen (1839-1911). It’s a cross between the Scandinavian Church in Liverpool and the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras.
The external detail is of the highest quality, though it’s one spire short of a full set of turrets because of wartime bombing, and the interior, rebuilt in 1958-59, is simple and tasteful: American Church in Berlin – Church in Berlin (foursquare.com).
The church is occupied by the American Church Berlin [https://www.americanchurchberlin.de]. Their pre-war building at Nollendorfplatz was destroyed in 1944, though a vestige survives as a monument.
If ever I return to Berlin it’ll be at the top of my list to revisit, preferably in the morning when the sun will be better placed, and if possible in winter when the trees are bare.