Berlin’s vitality is best discovered in one of its Small Worlds (described in some detail in ‘Berlin Unwrapped’). The word often used to describe one of these city neighbourhoods is a ‘Kiez’. It implies an area with positive vibes, where local inhabitants get together and conjures up an image of pre-war buildings and a lively scene with plenty of culture, pubs and clubs. If it’s especially arty, it might get the tag ‘Kunstkiez’, which I recently saw translated into English as ‘Art’hood’ . One Kiez that really comes to life in summer is the ‘Rheingauviertel’, centred around Rüdesheimer Platz in Wilmersdorf (directly outside U-Bahn Rüdesheimer Platz). This square was built in the first decade of the 20th century and named after the town of Rüdesheim am Rhein in Hessen, famous for its Rheingau wines. Many of the surrounding streets are also named after towns in the Rheingau region and Rheingau wine is served from May until the end of September.
Summer evening at Rüdi
A wooden hut becomes the focal point of the Kiez and tables and benches are set up on the square. First you buy the wine and then unpack your picnic as everybody brings their own food. Some people go to a lot of effort and set up a veritable banquet, but bread and cheese go down just as well and our home-made quiche went down a treat. If you can’t find a free table, there is always plenty of room in the English-style gardens that spread out below the square. Here you can appreciate some of the beautiful local architecture and get the best view of the fountain with its huge statue of Siegfried, suitably flanked by the ‘Wine Queen’ and ‘Father Rhine’.
The recently-renovated Siegfried fountain with a view over the gardens
Rüdi-Net is the local network that organises local events in this Kiez. As I type this blog there is a boule competition in full swing and tonight and next Saturday evening there will be live music provided by Molly Malone. The 9th annual ‘Sommerfest’ takes place this year over the last weekend of August. Market stalls selling arts and crafts are set up all along Landauerstrasse and there will be plenty of food, drink and entertainment on Rüdesheimerplatz itself. Modern toilet facilities are provided by the ‘Café Achteck’, (meaning eight-cornered café), the German nickname for the old French-style ‘urinoir’ and one of the well-known features of the Rüdi-Kiez.