Look, it’s no Moscow, but Berlin boasts some truly beautiful subway stations. There are some with cathedral-like halls, others with unique decorative tiling or custom lighting. We’ve probably all got our favourites, but here’s our pick of the city’s most beautiful U-Bahn stations.
‘City-West’ doesn’t boast many architectural gems, but Wittenbergplatz subway station is the exception. It was designed by Alfred Grenander, the in-house architect of Berlin’s elevated and subway systems from 1899 to 1931. Anyone who wants to take the U1, U2 or U3 from Wittenbergplatz enters a cruciform entrance hall with neoclassical forms and a square tower.
The hall also serves as a transition between the five tracks on three platforms – there was supposed to be a sixth, but it was never built. Don’t miss the outside, either, where the steel lattice structure is clad with shell limestone slabs.
Students at Freie Universität Berlin know the sight of the Heidelberger Platz underground station very well, but it’s worth slowing down to admire this gem.
Wilhelm Leitgebel, the architect behind designed Heidelberger Platz, had a lot of freedom: the station is twice as deep as most others. Making the most of this extra space, the vaulted ceiling is reminiscent of a cathedral – and when you walk slowly across the platform and hear the resulting echo – it really does feel like you’re in one.
This only opened in 2021, but the Museumsinsel station on the U-5 is beautiful, filled with intricate, small details. There are more than 6,600 points of light under the ceiling that bring the feeling of a starry sky underground. Swiss architect Max Dudler was the designer, and was inspired by the Berlin master builder Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
The Paulsternstraße underground station tells a story – that of a carriage ride from Berlin to Spandau 200 years ago. On their way, travellers would encounter flowers, trees, meadows, and stars. This natural beauty could be an unusual sight for Berliners, so often stuck in their apartments in the second, third and fourth Hinterhöfe. The architect of the subway station, Rainer Gerhard Rümmler, was criticized for the fact that the design was too ostentatious and too colourful for a functional building. He designed several subway stations at this end of the U7, including Richard-Wagner-Platz and Rohrdamm.
If the BVG, the state of Berlin and the federal government had not invested 12 million marks in 1998, the Märkisches Museum underground station would probably not have made it onto this list. In 1998 it was in dire need of renovation – but its particular charm was saved by bureaucracy. When it was being renovated, the green fired tiles selected by the architect Alfred Grenander were removed without the approval of the monument protection authority. To make up for it, Berlin agreed to renovate the subway station in accordance with the monument and to refire all the tiles true to the original scheme.
Schlesisches Tor is one of the oldest stations in Berlin and has been in use since as early as the beginning of 1902. Here, however, the term U-Bahn or “underground station” is misleading – in this part of Kreuzberg the train rolls through the neighbourhood about six meters above ground. The architects Hans Griesebach and August Dinklage designed the station after winning the tender from the Siemens construction office. They opted for a historicist style with Neo-Renaissance elements: the building is adorned with numerous columns, facades and flourishes. When the station opened, the “Torkrug” restaurant moved in. Today the building houses the live music venue “Bi Nuu”.
Just looking at the mosaics in the Rohrdamm underground station, you can tell immediately that it was designed by the same man who also designed the Paulsternstraße underground station: Rainer Gerhard Rümmler. In this case, Rümmler was inspired by the machines in the Siemens factories in this part of the city: stylized cogwheels and lattices adorn the walls of the subway station, the pillars are clad in silver-grey metal. Together with the Paulsternstraße underground station and five other underground stations on the northern U7, this stop has been a heritage listed building since 2017.
Yes, Kottbusser Tor also has a place in our list of the 12 most beautiful subway stations in Berlin. Not necessarily because the subway station is beautiful in the traditional sense, but because there is hardly any other place where you can soak up the essence of Berlin as well as on the platform of this elevated train station.
From there you can see the skyscrapers around the train station, a mosque and the dance bars “Monarch” and “Paloma Bar” on one side, and the Kottbusser Damm on the other. And on the platform there is a cross-section of Berlin’s population: hipsters and parents with children, senior citizens and start-up types on their way to the office. It never gets boring up there!
The most striking thing in the Klosterstraße subway station is probably the lighting. Lightbulbs hang from its ceiling, bathing the platform in a strange dim, orange light. Colourful Babylonian palm trees adorn the wall in the southern entrance area and are similar to those in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar ll. The same tiles can be found on the replica of the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum; more were produced than were actually needed! But that doesn’t detract from the nostalgic atmosphere in the station. And the historic railcar 12 of the Schöneberg subway, which was restored to its original state of 1910, reinforces this impression.
The name of this subway station – Mohrenstrasse – is racist and outdated, no question. However, the marble cladding of the walls and pillars in the Mohrenstrasse U-Bahn station has aged a lot better than the name. Due to misinformation in the “Spiegel”, it was long said that the marble came from the New Reich Chancellery, which was destroyed in World War II.
This claim has since been refuted. But even without this myth, the subway station is impressive. Reminiscent of the underground stations in Moscow, is usually surprisingly clean and was the terminus of the East Berlin subway line A in divided Berlin.
This subway station is noisy, bustling, and if we are totally honest with you, a notorious hotspot for crime. Nevertheless, it belongs in our list of the 12 most beautiful subway stations in Berlin. Firstly, because this hustle and bustle is so typical. Secondly, because it is something special to be able to enter a department store via a subway station. And third, because this subway station was also designed by the architect Alfred Grenander and is characterised by columns, high ceilings and coloured tiles.
In fact, Grenander introduced the colour system and assigned a colour code to each station he built. This should differentiate the stations from those that come before and after. Tiles, supports and the frames of signs may bear the identification colours. The principle can still be seen today on the U2, U5, U6 and U8 lines.
The dome of the Nollendorfplatz underground station comes across as both powerful and proud when it shines in rainbow colours of the LGBT flag. The lights are reason enough to make it into our list of the 12 most beautiful subway stations in Berlin. In addition, a memorial plaque has been hanging on the south side of the station since 1989, commemorating the homosexual victims of the Third Reich. This plaque was actually the first memorial to commemorate gays and lesbians, bisexuals, trans people and people of other sexualities who did not fit into the Nazi worldview. The dome is not the only attraction though, the station lobby inside is also gorgeous. Once again this is an Alfred Grenander design.
Many East Berliners took a long time to get used to the fact that the Eberswalder Strasse underground station was named after the extension of Danziger Strasse. This is because for years the station was named Dimitroffstraße, after the Bulgarian Prime Minister Georgi Dimitroff. But no matter what you call it, its beauty remains unchanged. We particularly like the hall made of riveted steel, all in green. Apart from that, the crossing between Schönhauser Allee and Danziger Straße, Kastanienallee, and Pappelallee is somehow iconic.