The picturesque Nikolaiviertel (or Nikolai Quarter in English) is the founding site of the city of Berlin, making it the oldest residential area in the German capital.
This medieval-looking gem in Berlin's modern center is made up of narrow streets, historic buildings, pastel-colored houses, and traditional German pubs and restaurants.
In this guide, learn everything you need to know before visiting the historic neighborhood, including the top things to do, the history, how to get there, and more.
Things to Do in the Nikolaiviertel in Berlin
The Nikolaiviertel is the former city center of Berlin and also known as the "old Berlin". Walking around the area, you can get a good idea of what medieval Berlin-Cölln once looked like.
Stroll through the narrow, winding streets and discover the special charm of the quarter and the beautiful monuments that are hidden within:
1. Museum Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas' Church Museum)
The Nikolaikirche, or St. Nicholas' Church in English, is the oldest preserved building in Berlin. The listed church is one of the highlights of Mark Brandenburg architecture. It was severely destroyed during World War II and rebuilt in the 1980s.
However, the Nikolaikirche was not only a place of faith and a burial place of important Berlin families. The first city council was sworn in here in 1809. The first freely elected Berlin House of Representatives after German reunification was also constituted here. Famous musicians and composers performed here, and concerts are still held regularly.
Since 1995, the structure has served as a museum dedicated to the 800-year history of the church, with its permanent exhibition consisting of many original objects.
- For admission prices, please refer to the
2. Ephraim-Palais Museum
On the edge of the Nikolaiviertel you will come across the Ephraim Palais. It was built in 1766 for Veitel Heine Ephraim, the financier of King Frederick II, in rococo style and is considered one of the most beautiful historic town houses in the city.
Today, the listed house serves as a museum.
- Please refer to the
museum's website for admission prices.
3. Knoblauchhaus Museum
The Knoblauchhaus dating from 1760 impresses with its neoclassical facade. It was owned by the Knoblauch merchant family for 170 years. In 1929, it became the property of the city of Berlin and has served as a museum since 1989.
A permanent exhibition shows the history of the Knoblauch family in addition to information about the Biedermeier era.
- Please refer to the
museum's website for admission prices.
4. Traditional Pub Quarter
There are about 30 gastronomic establishments in this small quarter, including restaurants, cafés and, above all, traditional German pubs. The oldest tavern in town,
Stop by one of the pubs and try specialties like Berliner Pökeleisbein (pickled knuckle of pork) in a quaint atmosphere.
- For more Berlin specialties, check out our list of typical dishes of Berlin cuisine.
5. Spree Riverbank
Once your walk through the medieval quarter leads you to the picturesque banks of the Spree River, look out for the bronze statue that stands in the large square on the riverbank. The statue depicts St. George as a dragon slayer and is one of the most photographed monuments in Berlin.
Moreover, this place offers you a magnificent view across the Spree River to the Museum Island.
The historic quarter is home to the Theater im Nikolaiviertel.
If you are in the mood for culture, history and Berlin humor, you can catch the house's hit play "Zille sein Milljöh" in the small theater.
- You can see the current schedule and prices on the
How to Get to the Nikolaiviertel in Berlin?
Alexanderplatz: Go one stop with the U-Bahn U5 to the "U Rotes Rathaus" stop. From there it is only a few steps. Alternatively, you can reach the Nikolaiviertel on foot from Alexanderplatz after a 10-minute walk.
Potsdamer Platz: The easiest way is to take bus 200 or 300. Hop on at the stop "Varian-Fry-Str" and go 7 stops to "U Rotes Rathaus".
FAQ about the Nikolaiviertel
The Nikolaiviertel or Nikolai Quarter is located in the heart of Berlin, in the Mitte district, about a 10-minute walk from Alexanderplatz.
The address is: Rathausstraße 21, 10178 Berlin, Germany.
From Alexanderplatz you can either walk 10 minutes to the Nikolaiviertel or go one stop with the subway U5 to the stop "U Rotes Rathaus". From there it is only a few steps.
From Potsdamer Platz, the easiest way to reach the quarter is to take bus line 200 or 300. Get on at the "Varian-Fry-Str" stop and go 7 stops to "U Rotes Rathaus".
The Nikolaiviertel is the historical center of Berlin and was probably founded at the beginning of the 13th century. In 1230, the St. Nicholas Church was built, which indicates that the quarter is at least about 800 years old.
The picturesque Nikolaiviertel, which consists of narrow streets, historic buildings, picturesque houses and traditional German pubs, restaurants and cafes, holds many attractions. These include the St. Nicholas Church, the Knoblauchhaus Museum, the Ephraim Palais, a theater and the bronze statue depicting St. George as the dragon slayer, and much more.
History & Facts about the Nikolaiviertel
The origins of the Nikolaiviertel (in English: Nikolai Quarter) date back to the Middle Ages. At the beginning of the 13th century, the first merchants and craftsmen settled in today's Nikolai Quarter on the eastern bank of the Spree. Between 1230 and 1250 they built the St. Nicholas Church as the center of the settlement. On the western side of the Spree River, the settlement of Cölln was established at about the same time.
In 1307, the two settlements merged to form the city of Berlin-Cölln, which subsequently developed into an important trading city and continued to expand.
Unfortunately, the quarter was completely destroyed during the Second World War. It was not until 1987, in the run-up to Berlin's 750th anniversary celebrations, that the Nikolaiviertel was restored according to historical models. This gave the quarter its present medieval appearance.
Contact & Map
- Address: Nikolaiviertel, Rathausstraße 21, 10178 Berlin, Germany
- Public Transport: U5 to "U Rotes Rathaus"