A city without crowds – Berlin’s empty streets during the coronavirus outbreak

JUAN MARTINEZ

April 5, 2020

A city without crowds – Berlin’s empty streets during the coronavirus outbreak

I went for a walk around Berlin empty city center and saw first-hand how deserted the German capital became

The spring is coming, but Berlin is empty. For many, this is the time of the year to take out their BBQs, invite some friends and enjoy the nice weather. However, this year is completely different. With regulations forbidding any public gathering of more than two people, nowadays Berliners just spent their time at home.  Berlin turned its famously known wild nights into evenings of Netflix in bed.

From party capital to deserted city

I live right in the heart of the city and I love it. I have been always fascinated by the buzz of a large city, walking along its crowds and simply seeing life moving around me all the time.

Berlin is also a city that makes you feel alive. Its hedonist nightlife is known for not stopping all week long and its multicultural vibe makes you want to discover more and more. It is the place to be if you don’t know what you are looking for and is a city that welcomes you no matter where you come from.  

Unfortunately, everything changed. Lockdowns of over Europe are taking place in order to control the spread of the virus and the colorful and vibrant life that represented Berlin, seems to be gone until further notice.

workplace in Berlin photographer
My workplace at my apartment in Berlin

As empty as back during the cold war

Last Friday I walked from my apartment in Tiergarten to Alexanderplatz. It is a 5 km walk that crosses the city center and covers the most popular spots of Berlin. Although I expected to see a couple of curious tourists taking pictures and looking for an open restaurant, I ended up finding nothing more than some people jogging and a lot of pigeons.

Brandenburg Gate empty Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin Mitte

I never saw the Brandenburg Gate so quiet during the day. I was shocked to see this for the first time and for a moment I felt like the character of a movie about the end of the world. This is the place that attracts crowds from all nationalities trying to find a spot to take a photo without people. It is not like that anymore.

Unten den Linden empty at coronavirus
Unter den Linden looks dystopian movie during the coronavirus pandemic

Just like the Brandenburg Gate self, Berlin’s iconic avenue Unter den Linden was still and empty. Shops and restaurants were closed and even some of the street’s luxury hotels were not open anymore.

Gendarmenmarkt during coronavirus
All landmarks at Gendarmenmarkt are closed during coronavirus

Berlin’s city center became a ghost town. Without tourism during the pandemic, there were only one or two places open at Unten den Linden. Other popular districts in Mitte were as deserted as back in the war times.

Altes Museum during coronavirus
The Altes Museum in Mitte is a popular spot during summer for taking the sun

Temperatures are getting warmer and experts are afraid that this would influence Berliners gathering outside. Most Berliners used to spend the spring and summer days doing picnics at the parks or drinking with friends along the river.

Berliner Dom during Coronavirus
The Berliner Dom is remodeling during the pandemic

While walking around the center of Berlin, I spotted many construction pits open. Some museums or buildings officially closed are making the most of this time by remodeling their structures before everything goes back to normal.

Heiligegeistgasse in Berlin
Heiligegeistgasse has many shops and cafes for the public

The Heiligegeistgasse was one of the few spots in Berlin that never closed during daytime. This was the place to get an ice cream or grab a quick bite while walking around the city center. Now it looks like an abandoned area.

Alexanderplatz during corona
The only visitors at Alexanderplatz are nowadays only pigeons

With Berlin in complete stillstand, many find this a perfect time for a walk alone, stop once in a while and listen. This is a moment that hopefully never repeats again and an opportunity to feel the city like never before.

Hackerscher Hof at Coronavirus
Hackerscher Hof looks very different on a sunny day and completely alone

As a photographer living in the city center of Berlin, I have seen the city at night or early in the mornings in complete stillstand before. However, I never seen such a quietness in the middle of the day on a normal Friday.

the hidden courtyard of Haus Schwarzenberg
The courtyard of Haus Schwarzenberg looks completely different than the rest of Hackescher Hof

The Hackescher Hof are eight interconnected courtyards full of restaurants, ateliers and shops of all kind. Inside this complex, the hidden courtyard of Haus Schwarzenberg developed into a space for grafitti and freedom. It is the most popular spot in this area and a place I wanted to photograph completely empty and during the day.

We don’t know how long it will take until the crowds and noises of Europe’s largest metropolis come back to life. Until then, it is nice to marvel how time stopped in these cities and see the stillness of a deserted capital.

Read more: How the coronavirus can change the future of tourism

Alexanderplatz at Coronavirus
Train stations are completely empty. It is normal to be in the metro and be the only person

Read more: Visit Berlin’s Thai Park – Germany’s most delicious spot

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