It's no secret that Berlin is the European epicenter of hip; everybody has only been extolling its artistic and cultural merits for the last 20 years or so. For a city with such significance in almost every aspect, it can be overwhelming to pick out the cream of the crop and the coolest of the cool. Of course it's common knowledge that the East Side Gallery and Museum Island are big-time must-sees, and that Kreuzberg is hipster central, but let us school you on the essential small gems found in the hidden corners of this German metropolis.
Where: Oranienburger Str. 54-56a
You can't bring up Berlin without bringing up WWII. With hundreds of abandoned relics from the war, the preservation of the city's historic ruins is often a contentious subject, and a symbol of the struggle between the old and new. Kunsthaus Tacheles hits a unique sweet spot by keeping the old without compromising change; while it's now an artist commune, it had lived its many past lives as a failed department store, a Nazi Prisoner of War camp for French soldiers, an industrial warehouse, a nightclub, and a cinema. The artists who overtook the building after the fall of the Berlin Wall gave it the name Tacheles, meaning "straight talk" in Yiddish – and began the liberating process of covering every surface of the building in fascinating words and paintings. Oh yeah, and Banksy was here.
Sammlung Boros Bunker
Where: Reinhardtstraße 20
Constructed in 1941 by prisoners under head Nazi architect Albert Speer, the Sammlung Boros Bunker was originally designed to be an air-raid shelter for civilians before it was taken over by the Red Army. After German Reunification, it gained a reputation as the most hardcore nightclub in the world, hosting fetish parties and "Sexperimenta," a huge trade fair for erotica. It became a little more tame after 2003, when it was converted into an exhibition space for the private art collection of curator Christian Boros. It never lost its edge though; the studio spaces within its walls hold some of the most impressive modern art in the city.
Where: Köpenicker Str. 70
Ah, Kraftwerk: the holy center of the electro scene. Known for its iconic concerts hosting the most revered of DJs, it's also a central event and gallery space for all types of performance art and creative fairs. Runway shows, TEDx talks, socialist operas, and the biggest contemporary art exhibit in the country all take place in this ex-power plant built in conjunction with the Wall in 1961. Originally meant to power the former East German regions of the city, it was converted into a nightclub in 2006 and continues to power the cultural circuit of Berlin today.
Where: Stadtbahnbogen 424
Are you a nerd for words? A mad fan of fonts? The first museum in the world to "collect 3D letterforms from public spaces and display them as a part of urban history," the Museum of Letters' job is to make visitors fall in love with typography – and they're damn good at their job. Salvaging neon signs and cutouts before they hit the garbage collection, the intriguing curation and beautiful arrangements completely prove that one man's trash is definitely many others' treasure.
Deutches Currywurst Museum
Where: Schützenstraße 70
We can all agree there's no better way to learn about history than through eating. Let's be real, there's probably no better way of learning anything than through eating. The Currywurst Museum is a fun and interactive way to discover what they call "the cult object Currywurst" through all the senses: hit up the snack bar, get an audio tour with a personal ketchup phone, view some wurst art, and hug their award-winning mascot QWoo. Don't forget to snap a picture of yourself holding a giant fry while sitting on the hot dog shaped sofa and watch the Instagram likes roll in.