While I took you out into nature for last week’s Scenic Route, focussing on trees, moss and lakes, this week’s running track is more for those not afraid to navigate the city, crossing busy streets and running past clueless tourist groups to name just two hindrances. But you’ll be rewarded with many of the most important sights, pass through the lovely park of Tiergarten and finish your run on the glamorous Unter den Linden.
This route is especially recommendable to those Berlin visitors who only have a day or two, don’t want to lose track of their training but still want to see as much of the city as possible. See sights & train for the upcoming half marathon at the same time! Best of both worlds, right?
The route, however, is a bit more complicated than the one of last week and you might need to take a look on the map once or twice before you start, but don’t be afraid to leave the track to discover even more or just orient yourself on the major sights to find your way. I started at Museumsinsel, just in between three remarkable buildings defining this historical center of Berlin: the Berliner Dom (built in 1894-1905), the classicist Altes Museum, and the Baroque Zeughaus (today’s Deutsches Historisches Museum). Run north along the canal and cross the beautiful bridge at Bode Museum. (Don’t forget to snap an Instagram that will make your followers think you’re in Paris). Then take the steps just after the bridge to the left and run along the Spree all the way past fancy meat-haven Grill Royal, cross the Friedrichstraße, and run until your reach the Regierungsviertel.
Pass the Marschallbrücke at Wilhelmstraße and run in between monumental Reichstag and the adjacent governmental buildings Paul-Löbe-Haus and Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders Haus to watch the government do their important work. Don’t forget to notice that the crosses remembering the deaths at the Berlin Wall are missing from the fence by the Spree (because they’ve been brought to the current European Wall by the Centre for Political Beauty, more info here.)
Follow the street straight through the governmental district until you reach the gigantic Kanzleramt, current home to Angela Merkel, and then take a left until you get to the next crossing and take a right, running on John-Foster-Dulles Allee, remembering the former US foreign minister and firm anti-communist. You will then pass the beautiful mid-century building with a troubled history (the complicated yet impressing roof structure crashed in 1980) inhabiting the exhibition space with the long name: Haus der Kulturen der Welt.
If you’re feeling frisky (or like to have a Rocky-moment), run up and down the stairs as many times as you like or your body and mind needs. Then return to the street and run all the way to the very pretty home of Germany’s president, the castle of Bellevue. There’s a small path just between the fence protecting the president and the river Spree, continue on this one until you see the train tracks above the street and take a left (or run straight if you need a break and want to take it at Konditorei Buchwald, who make Berlin’s best Baumkuchen. Yes, I know, totally off-topic, but it really is a delicious cake, you should try it, but maybe another time.)
If you managed not to stop for pastry, you’ll find yourself in the Hansaviertel, a former posh district that was heavily destroyed in world war 2, giving way to creative city planning ideas. A fresh start, indeed: all the remaining ruins have been removed to create a blank canvas. However, Hansaviertel is one of the few areas in which modern, post-war architecture and city planning concepts were not only created, but really implemented.
It’s basically an almost perfect model for what architects and planners thought a city should look like in the 1950s, how we should all live: scattered buildings with loads of greenery instead of strict perimeter development. Not only that, the city invited acclaimed international architects to build in Hansaviertel, which means you’ll run past buildings by Oscar Niemeyer, Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen, Egon Eiermann and many more. Just the right time to take a stretch on one of the maps installed in the area to check which famous architect’s work you’ve just passed.
When you finished your architectural tour, return to the Siegessäule to run straight back to Museumsinsel (only 3,5k from here). Take the route through Tiergarten that goes parallel to the busy street to have some much earned experience of nature. You might even encounter some cute bunnies (really!) Arriving at Pariser Platz, don’t forget to take a stretch on Brandenburger Tor, obviously, or say hi to the guards of the British, American, French or Russian embassies, since you’re in the area. Unter den Linden itself is a challenge to run right now, not only because of its many tourists, but because of the major construction site of the new U-Bahn station. However, it’s worth it, because returning all the way back to Berliner Dom makes this route a nice 10k. Have fun!
Start & End: Museumsinsel (or S-Bahnhof Alexanderplatz)
Length: 10k / 6.2 miles
Best time: Early or late hours of the day to avoid the car / tourist traffic
By the way, only now I realized that the half-marathon is just two weeks away. And heard the craziest story about people freaking out because of excitement, started to google energy gels because my #boostberlin trainer said that I’ll need something in my stomach if I run over 2hrs (which I will, no question), researched the best in-ear headphones to listen to the motivating playlist I still have to assemble. And generally getting a little bit nervous… because it is 21k. TWENTYONE! Why would you even… Okay, I’m not starting with the self-doubts. Because what I’ve learned so far: not the body is the issue, it’s the mind. That tells you to re-consider this decision or just generally doubt your skills, that lets you notice that your left sock is kinda crumply today, so maybe just take a break and try to fix that, or just stop running all together because who can run with a crumply sock… However, it’s not your mind that’s doing the actual running, it’s your body. And your body can deal with a lot more things than your mind is able to imagine. Remembering that helped me a lot. As in: Don’t think. Run.
Post in cooperation with and sponsored by adidas.