The Kurfürstendamm was originally a riding path for the electoral prince into their hunting areas outside the city. At the time Berlin was divided by the Wall, the Kurfürstendamm was, so to speak, the main street of West Berlin. Today it is one of the city’s most popular shopping streets.
The Kurfürstendamm was created in 1542 as a connection of the Berlin City Palace with the hunting lodge Grunewald. It first served as a bridle path for the Elector Joachim II. In 1767, the name “Churfürsten Damm” appeared for the first time. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck suggested in 1873 in a letter to make the Kurfürstendamm a special boulevard. Initially, a 25-meter-wide road was planned, but this was extended to 53 meters after Bismarck’s objection. The villa colony Grunewald was initiated in the same breath and the construction of the two projects was in 1882. On May 5, 1886, the new boulevard was opened and the first magnificent buildings were built. In the Golden Twenties – the time between the two World Wars – the Kurfürstendamm experienced its climax. With the Café des Westens, the Lunapark and the Kakadu Bar, the street developed a special flair and even rivaled the old boulevard Unter den Linden. In divided Berlin, the Kurfürstendamm was to be rebuilt as a symbol of the economic miracle and therefore the business center of West Berlin developed here.
The Kurfürstendamm, called by the Berliners “Ku’damm”, is today considered the most famous shopping street of Berlin. The 3.5-kilometer road attracts Berliners and tourists alike. Department stores, restaurants, cafés and shops invite you to shop and linger. The street is the largest retail location and the busiest shopping street in Berlin. Numerous fashion chains, shoe and jewelry stores as well as electronics stores are represented here. In between there are department stores, bars and restaurants. In the side streets are boutiques for fine and luxury goods as well as galleries and museums. At Breitscheidplatz is the Europacenter, the oldest shopping center in Berlin. Here you find 70 shops with a wide range of goods: from technology to books, fashion and jewelry. With the Schaubühne, the modernized Zoo-Palast and several other cinemas and theaters, the Ku’damm is still worth a visit even after closing time.
In the Tauentzienstraße, which is directly adjacent to the Kurfürstendamm, is the famous Department Store of the West – the KaDeWe. It is the largest department store in continental Europe and besides exclusive fashion, jewelry and beauty shops, it also offers an outstanding gourmet department. Fish, meat and other specialties from around the world await customers here. On the last floor is a large self-service restaurant.
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was built in the 1890s for Emperor Wilhelm II honoring his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm I. The church had four towers, and the main tower was 113 meters high, the highest tower in Berlin back those days. The interior design of the church was very splendid, among other things by a variety of mosaics. The church was destroyed during the Second World War and the ruin was later left as a memorial. In 1957, a new church was built next to the ruin. The modern style makes it very worth seeing.