Last night, while tucking into my fried duck in some Thai restaurant on Oranienburger Straße, I noticed some people across the road walk into what seemed like a derelict building. After my meal, and filled with curiosity, I walk over and asked the guy who stood by the front door as to what’s inside.
He said, “What’s in there? Ghosts!”
Now I’m really curious, but hesistant. Every wall, every stair case, almost every inch of flooring leading inside were covered with graffiti. It could be East Berlin’s favourite crack house, for all I know. As I stood there for a minute, some other people, as wide-eyed as I was, begin walking straight in. Their language isn’t German. Tourists! Well, I thought, I might as well follow these guys.
And I’m glad I did. It turns out that I just walked into Kunsthaus Tacheles. What was once part of a shopping mall, back in 1907, then serving as an office for the Nazis during WWII (which made it a target for Allied bombing), and finally being abandoned and even earmarked for demolition – in 1990 the Tacheles building was squatted on by a bunch of artists and the place has remained an arts centre ever since.
Anyone with an interest in art in general or, especially, “alternative” art must see this place. As I walked up the flights of stairs and visited every floor I just couldn’t help thinking, “This is some crazy shit”. On every floor, you’ll see artists working away in different kinds of media – from prints, to sound, to digital. I even managed to see a performance by “A Guy Called Gerald”. For €10 I’m not sure it was the best show I saw, for I just couldn’t understand any of it!
If the art isn’t your thing, then you just have to at least visit the two bars inside. Both have that trippy, house-party atmosphere. Head up to the top bar for fresh air and a view of the building’s backyard.
A visit to the Tacheles may be too confronting for some. But if you’re going to see Berlin, then this joint is recommended. Tacheles is on Oranienburger Straße 54-56a.