By Marriette Rough
Sundays in Berlin are pretty marvelous. Most shops are closed and to the non-German this may seem a little annoying or out-dated. But it is something the Germans are quite proud of and rightfully so. The German population tends to be more religious than not, with 62% of the country classing themselves as Christian. Not many of those are actually attending church on a Sunday. Instead they head to the more charming institution of flea markets. They’re a great way to spend time with your family and friends, strolling around in the sun, hunting for treasure. The day usually tends to involve coffee. And cake.
Friedrichshain is one our coolest districts located in the East of the city. It’s home to punks, students, hippies and tour guides. Gentrified as it may be, it is a beautiful part of Berlin. Tree-lined cobble streets, world famous graffiti and a left wing community. And a couple of wonderful flea markets.
Boxhagener Flea market
I live just around the corner from this market so tend to go to every Sunday regardless of what else I have on. Boxhagener Platz itself is particularly cute, children playing in the little park, people sat at its’ grassy centre, sipping on a Sternberg (a very cheap bottle of beer and when I say cheap I mean less than a euro. For a large bottle.) and people-watching.
Most of the stalls here are more like miniature shops than flea-market stalls. Offering prices that cannot be haggled. Personally, I think this should be made illegal at flea markets. That’s half the fun. Pretending to walk away when the stall-person says a price that ‘offends’ you. Just to be pulled back in, like a fish on a line, once they say a price just a euro or two cheaper. Still there are enough independent sellers to find some bargains. The best are those who spend their week visiting the clear-out sales of apartments of the recently deceased. Many families don’t want to have to sort through all the stuff at their grandparents houses when they die, so they essentially sell all their belongings as a job lot. It may sound a bit heartless (because it is?), but it means a lot of people find amazing vintage pieces of furniture to love that they may never otherwise have been able to afford. Somehow I think that is pretty nice.
Raw Flea market
This is the scruffy hippie baby of all Berlins’ flea markets. Only in its third year, it is located in the infamous plot of land known as RAW-Gelände, one of Berlin’s most interesting urban spaces, and one that we actually visit on our Raw Bike Tour.
It is essentially a post-industrial stretch of derelict buildings along Revealer Strasse. Originally it was a train repair station, ‘Reichsbahn-Ausbesserungs-Werk’ (RAW for short) founded in 1867. Since 1999, it has been a graffiti soaked hub of activity. Being host to a climbing centre, an indoor skate-park, multiple bars and clubs and an outdoor cinema.
In the last year the area has been a hot topic for Berliners. It’s a microcosmic example of one of Berlins’ biggest issues, namely people wanting to capitalize on the city’s alternative sub-cultures. Property developers want to purchase the land to well, erm, develop property. I, like most of my fellow Friedrichshain-ers, am hoping for some sort of property-developer-reprieve. The future of the area remains to be seen.
Many of the stalls here are locals selling old clothes and house wares, which makes for some cheap finds. Make sure to check out the fifties furniture pod!