You probably know about the Museum Island UNESCO Site and the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO Site. But I’m betting you don’t know much about the third Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Modernism Housing Estates.
The Berlin Modernism Housing Estates is a group of six apartment complexes in different sections of the city. They were built in the early 1900s using an innovative approach to housing policies.
This guide to visiting Berlin’s little known UNESCO Site, the Berlin Modernism Housing Estates, will tell you about the different locations, how to get to them, and what else is nearby.
It takes some real dedication to visit all six of the properties included in the Berlin Modernism Housing Estates. They should be visited on a trip to Berlin when you have plenty of time, and if possible, spread it out over several days and combine with other nearby attractions.
Note: While visiting these estates, remember that these are people’s homes. Be respectful of the fact that locals still live here.
Where to stay in Berlin
Berlin has lots of great neighborhoods for you to stay in and explore. If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time, it might be best for you stay somewhere central.
Many of the attractions are in Mitte or easily connected to Mitte by Berlin’s public transport, so you should stay somewhere in that region. Here are a few hotels we recommend.
For a more detailed look at the different neighborhoods and our hotel recommendations, check out our guide to where to stay in Berlin.
About Berlin’s Modernism Housing Estates UNESCO World Heritage Site
This is the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Berlin you probably haven’t heard of before. It’s not as glamorous as the other two, but it’s a must for serious UNESCO fans.
I’ll admit, on the surface these apartments don’t seem all that exciting. But once you understand WHY they’re a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they’re actually quite interesting to visit and look for the details that made them cutting-edge 100 years ago.
As a group, this has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.
According to UNESCO: “The property is an outstanding example of the building reform movement that contributed to improving housing and living conditions for people with low incomes through novel approaches to town planning, architecture and garden design.”
The six apartment complexes are examples that came from housing policies from 1910 to 1933. The focus was more on high quality and improved living conditions, and it was an innovative approach at the time.
At these different housing estates, you’ll see more space between buildings, allowing more light to reach where people live. Plus the extra green space provided more room for outdoor leisure activities for residents.
Though there were many more housing estates in Berlin that were built in the same time period with the same approach, these six were chosen, in part, because they sustained very damage during World War II.
Here are the six locations included in this Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wohnstadt Carl Legien
The Wohnstadt Carl Legien was designed by architects Bruno Taut and Franz Hillinger. It was built between 1928 to 1930 with the idea of being modern, airy, and light.
The garden courtyards are different colors, the door and window frames are contrasting black and white, and the whole estate has a community feeling to it. There’s plenty of green space in between the buildings for enjoying the outdoors.
These apartments are located in Prenzlauer Berg just outside the Ringbahn. This is one of the closer locations to the center of Berlin, so if you only have time to visit one estate, this is an easy one to reach.
How to get there
The main street through this housing estate is Erich-Weinert-Straße, and the building with the wording on the side is at the corner of Erich-Weinert-Straße and Gubitzstr. Find it here.
The closest Sbahn station is S Prenzlauer Allee. You can either walk from there, or hop on the M2 tram going north for one stop, and get out at the Erich-Weinert-Straße stop.
The Carl Legien Estate is on the outer edge of Prenzlauer Berg, not too far from the planetarium.
From here, you can take the M2 tram to Danziger Str and then switch to the M10 towards Hauptbahnhof, and you can get to the heart of Prenzlauer Berg or continue a little farther to Mauerpark or the Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial.
Or you can stay on the M2 until you reach Alexanderplatz where you can see the TV Tower and many other attractions on your Berlin bucket list.
It’ll take about 25 minutes to get to the Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial or about 20 minutes to get to Alexanderplatz.
Falkenberg Garden City, or Gartenstadt Falkenberg in German, is a colorful estate in southeast Berlin. Designed by architect Bruno Taut, this housing estate aimed to create housing that combined aspects of city life with rural life.
Bruno Taut wanted to foster a sense of community here. The estate was to feel like a quaint village while still being located within Berlin’s city boundaries.
The homes here aren’t symmetrical. They’re unique and use a variety of colors and geometric shapes in the aesthetics.
And because this is a garden city, special attention was given to the plants as well. Here you’ll find lots of green space with trees, flowers, and other plants throughout the estate.
How to get there
The Falkenberg Garden City estate is in the Treptow-Köpenick district of Berlin, one of the farthest properties from the center of the city. Find it here.
To get to Falkenberg Garden City, take the S8, S85, or S46 to the Grünau Sbahn station. From there, it’s a 5-10 minute walk.
It’ll take you about 30 minutes or so to reach Gartenstadt Falkenberg from S+U Alexanderplatz, so it’s worth combining with some other activities in this direction.
The Köpenick neighborhood is nearby, and since it was once a separate village, it has a very different feel to it from central Berlin. Go for a stroll here, and check out the Köpenick Palace, about 25-35 minutes away.
A little farther away is Müggelsee, the largest lake in Berlin. If you’re visiting Berlin in the summer, this is a popular place to go for a swim. Also, check out the Spreetunnel Friedrichshagen, a tunnel under the Spree River that you can walk through.
For something in between Gartenstadt Falkenberg and the center of Berlin, go to Treptower Park. It’s one of the most popular parks in Berlin, and there’s a huge Soviet War memorial there.
Großiedlung Britz (Hufeisensiedlung)
In English, this apartment complex is called the Horseshoe Estate, and it’s known for its unique horseshoe shape. It was designed by Bruno Taut with the idea that homes should have good access to light, air, and sun.
Colorful elements are incorporated in the architectural elements. Like the other Modern Housing Estates included in this Berlin UNESCO Site, Hufeisensiedlung includes lots of outdoor space as an extension of living space.
There is a strong estate neighborhood association here with residents who care deeply about their home. Many residents have lived here for decades.
How to get there
These apartments are located in the Britz district of southern Neukölln, and the closest Ubahn stations are U Blaschkoallee (north of the estate) and U Parchimer Allee (south of the estate). Find it here.
Take the U7 to either Ubahn station, and then walk along Fritz-Reuter-Allee to reach the estate. The U Parchimer Allee station is a little closer than the U Blaschkoallee station.
Another great attraction to combine with a trip to the Großiedlung Britz Estate is Schloss Britz, which is about a 15 minutes walk. This Berlin palace is a former manor house for the Britz village and is now a museum.
A little farther away is Britzer Gardens, about 20-25 minutes away by bus. This gorgeous garden is a large park with a lake, and it’s well known for its roses and tulips, as well as many other types of flowers and plants.
Siedlung Schillerpark is another estate that was designed by architect Bruno Taut in a way to allow for more light and air for the residents. The buildings sit parallel to the streets and around a courtyard.
The architect was inspired by design principles he had seen in the Netherlands, including the use of flat roofs instead of gabled ones that were popular at the time. He also used brick facades and recessed balconies for these buildings.
Though the estate suffered damage during WWII, repairs and restoration work in the 1950s brought the estate back to good condition.
The Siedlung Schillerpark estate is in the Wedding district, and it isn’t too far from the Weiße Stadt estate (next on our list). If you’re interested in seeing more than one estate in a short amount of time, Siedlung Schillerpark and Weiße Stadt are a good combination.
How to get there
The closest Ubahn station is U Rehberge on the U6 line. Then walk along Schöningstraße and through the big park (Schillerpark) and you’ll reach the Siedlung Schillerpark Estate UNESCO site. Find it here.
The U6 Ubahn line will easily take you back into Mitte where you can check out any Berlin landmarks you might have missed. It takes 11 minutes from the Rehberge station to the Unter den Linden station.
Go only one stop down on the U6 (Seestrasse) and you’ll be just a few blocks from the Anti-War Museum. It’s a Brüsseler Str. 21.
Get out at the Naturkundemuseum station to visit the Museum für Naturkunde (Natural History Museum). From there, it’s also a short walk to the Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial.
Continue south on the U6 to Oranienburger Strasse or Friedrichstrasse to explore the pretty streets of Mitte. Or get out at Unter den Linden (where you can also switch to the U5) to see some of Berlin’s biggest attractions along the street with the same name.
The Stadtmitte station gets you close to Gendarmenmarkt. Kochstrasse takes you to Checkpoint Charlie.
Weiße Stadt means “white city” and this housing estate is comprised of white buildings from the late 1920s. This UNESCO estate was designed by three architects, Wilhelm Büning, Bruno Ahrends, and Otto Rudolf Salvisberg.
At the time, they were dealing with budget restraints, but their goal was still to provide housing that promoted light and air. Some buildings are oriented north-south, while others are arranged in a fan shape.
One of the more interesting buildings in this estate is the bridge building. This building sits over Aroser Allee and allows for cars to drive underneath.
They are located in the Reinickendorf district, just north of Wedding and central Berlin.
How to get there
The closest Ubahn stations are U Paracelsus-Bad and U Residenzstr, both on the U8. Coming from Alexanderplatz in Mitte, you’ll get to U Residenzstr first, in about 14 minutes. Find it here.
If you’re interested in combining Weiße Stadt and Siedlung Schillerpark, you can walk between the two in about 20 minutes or so.
Near the Weiße Stadt UNESCO estate is the OP Bunker Teichstrasse Museum, focused on Hitler and Nazi history. However, it can only be visited as part of a tour by Berliner Unterwelten, and the tours are generally only given in German.
There isn’t much else in the way of tourist attractions in this area, but it is easy to combine this with a visit to the Siedlung Schillerpark UNESCO estate. If you visit Weiße Stadt second, hop on the U8 to get back into the center of Berlin.
The U Bernauer Str station is at one end of the Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial, and it’s not far from Mauerpark. Or continue on the U8 to Alexanderplatz.
Großiedlung Siemensstadt (Ringsiedlung)
The Großiedlung Siemensstadt UNESCO estate was designed by a team of six architects: Walter Gropius, Hans Scharoun, Otto Bartning, and Hugo Häring, who belonged to a group called Der Ring, plus Fred Forbát and Paul Rudolf Henning.
They built this group of apartments as affordable housing for employees of the nearby Siemens plant. The objective was to break with tradition and move away from block-edged buildings and dark backyards.
What they came up with were apartments with equal conditions for the residents. The units are roughly the same size with lots of sun and access to fresh air.
Despite this aim for equality, the buildings are not all designed the same. Each architect was assigned a different section of the estate, and you can see their individuality in the details.
The Siemensstadt property is located in the northern part of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, just on the edge of Spandau. It includes a 340-meter-long (1,115 feet) residential building with a gently curved design.
How to get there
The closest Ubahn station is U Siemensdamm on the U7 line. If you’re coming from Alexanderplatz, take the S3, S5, S7, or S9 to the S CHarlottenburg station and then walk over to the U Wilmersdorfer Str Ubahn station to catch the U7. Find it here.
It takes about 35 minutes from S+U Alexanderplatz to U Siemensdamm, and then it’s another 5-10 minutes walking to reach the apartments.
This estate is probably the farthest from the center of Berlin and the most out of the way property on the list. If you’re truly dedicated to visiting this one, you might want to combine it with other attractions that are vaguely in this part of town.
Since you’re already visiting apartments that were originally built for Siemens workers, it’s worth stopping at the nearby Monument to the Fallen of Siemenswerke at Nonnendammallee 100, about 15 minutes away by bus or on foot. This monument honors Siemens employees who died in both World Wars.
Charlottenburg Palace is about 25-30 minutes away, and the closest Ubahn station is Richard-Wagner-Platz on the U7. It’s almost 15 minutes walking between the Ubahn and the palace, but you can save yourself a little walking by taking the M45 bus for a few stops.
Arguably the second best castle in Berlin, Spandau Citadel is about 20 minutes from the Siemensstadt UNESCO estate. To get there, take the U7 to the Zitadelle station (Zitadelle is the German word for Citadel) and then it’s a short walk.
It might be a bit of a stretch, but in 35-40 minutes, you can reach the Olympic Stadium. From the Siemensstadt Estate, take the U7 to the Rathaus Spandau station, and then switch over to the Berlin-Spandau station and take the S3 or S9 to Olympiastadion.
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this guide to visiting Berlin Modernism Housing Estates UNESCO Site helps. But there are lots more tips on the site!
- 101 Best Things to do in Berlin
- 23 Impressive Castles in Berlin (And Nearby)
- 27 Best World War II & Cold War Sights in Berlin
- 27 Fun Day Trips From Berlin
- 75 Things to Know Before Visiting Berlin: Essential Berlin Travel Tips
- What to Wear & What to Pack for Berlin, Germany: Your Ultimate Berlin Packing List
- How to Get Around in Berlin: An Easy Guide to Berlin Public Transportation
- Where to Stay in Berlin: A Local’s Guide
Visiting Berlin? Don’t forget travel insurance!
It’s always a good idea to travel to Berlin with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here is reasonably safe, but you never know when something could happen. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or become a victim to theft.
We recommend World Nomads insurance for travel. Travel insurance helps you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.