Berlin-Spandau: Life between River, Forest, Citadel and Historic Town Centre

Many continue to think of Spandau as a fortified river town in its own right although it was incorporated by Berlin roughly a century ago and has long been integrated into the metropolis as its fourth-largest borough. A look at the map, however, explains the logic behind this sense of autonomy. Well away from downtown Berlin, Spandau’s historic town centre lies on the bank of the River Havel, which includes a green promenade. A short distance away in the north lies the citadel, the borough’s landmark that is well known beyond the city limits. The majestic edifice, a historic fortress with unique ambience, has become a popular venue for events in its restored vaults and inspiring open-air concerts out front.

Extensive woodlands and bodies of water define the character of Spandau, which straddles the city’s western border with Brandenburg. The River Havel bisects the borough in a north-south direction, with Lake Tegel marking the northern and the vast woods of Grunewald the eastern boundary. So much nature can almost make you forget that you are still in Germany’s largest city. However, Spandau’s nine sub-districts, each with its own specific character collectively with a very urban diversity, will dispel the impression of being outside the city proper. South of the cultural and historic town centre with its pedestrian precinct, St. Nicolas Church from the 14th century and remnants of the historic city walls, the Wilhelmstadt sub-district serves as popular local recreation area with parks, waterfront spots and the combination swimming pool. The eastern part of Spandau, where the Siemens plant lent its name to the Siemensstadt sub-district, represents the borough’s economic hub. The modernist housing estate “Ringsiedlung” located here is one of Berlin’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. While a century old, the industrial site of Siemensstadt remains an attractive business location to this day: roughly 30 companies relocated to the Thelen Technopark trading estate in recent years.

Optimal Blend of Green Environment and Sound Infrastructure

No matter from what direction you approach Spandau, home to 240,000 residents, the many waterways are the borough’s signature feature. Especially during the warm time of year, many locals flock to the banks of the River Havel or take to the water in all sorts of vessels. Pleasure boats offer sunny boat trips and restaurant ships like “Alte Liebe” will tempt you with local cuisine in a cosy setting.

Another factor aside from the lush greenery that makes Spandau so attractive is its convenient transportation access. The borough is very easy to reach by rail or road. Using public transportation, it takes only 20 minutes to get from Spandau station to downtown West Berlin. In addition to rapid transit trains, regional and long-distance service is available here, as are buses and the U7 underground line, the city’s longest. Travelling by car, you reach the junction “Siemensdamm” on the A100/A111 expressway within minutes.

Although Spandau is not one of Berlin’s trendy boroughs, the very fact will make it an attractive destination for anyone who prefers to live in a quiet environment. Faced with all the challenges that the workday brings, people increasingly appreciate the slower pace of residential districts far from the urban hot spots. For locals and newcomers alike, Spandau is an up and coming place to live!