The rapid transit railway system of Berlin is among the most attractive in Europe from the point of view of art history, as there are many original stations around. These are elaborately decorated, providing a stark contrast with the post-1945 look of many of the city’s districts. Many newer stations are interesting as well.
Another thing that makes the U-Bahn of Berlin attractive is that its network is dense, the trains are smaller, and the stations are located not very deep in the ground, very much unlike what could be called the underground factories of many cities.
My portfolio consists of 19 U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, 13 of which date from the last years of the German Empire, two from the era of the Weimar Republic, one from the 1970s, two from the 1980s, and one after 2000. In the portfolio, the oldest period is best represented, while the other stations were chosen on the basis of a personal preference. I took the photos in January and April 2016.
You will find the locations of all the stations on this map:
This Jugendstil station is located along the Stammstrecke, Berlin’s first U-Bahn line.
U1, U2 & U3, 1902; the entrance hall 1913/1951
This is another station on the Stammstrecke. It has, unusually, five tracks, which makes it quite difficult to find one’s way here. The entrance hall with a cross-shaped ground plan resembles an indoor market a bit when seen from the outside.
U2, 1902; U1, U3 & U4, 1926
This station, located in the centre of the gaytown of Berlin, is among those of the original Stammstrecke. It is the only station where all the small-profile lines stop. The current glass dome resembles the original one, destroyed in World War II.
This is one of the few genuine Jugendstil buildings in Berlin. The bakery under the dome has a remarkable stained-glass ceiling.
S41, S42 & S46, 1910
This station looks like an apartment building with a Teutonic façade. It also has an impressive platform tower.
6. Rathaus Schöneberg
This station is covered by a bridge-like construction decorated with sculptures. The font used on the signs announcing the name of the station is very elegant.
This is my favourite U-Bahn station in Berlin. The palm tree motifs on the glazed tiles at the entrance area are the same as those of the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum.
8. Märkisches Museum
This station was originally called the Inselbrücke Station. It is one of the two U-Bahn stations in Berlin that have no central columns. It is located unusually deep for Berlin, and it is also more spacious, which is why it was, after its construction, often compared to the Paris Metro. The wall mosaics and reliefs are from 1987-1988.
This is the first of the five monumental stations located on U3, on the stretch running from Wilmersdorf to Dahlem. Elements of internal decoration include yellow and brown tiles, mosaics, and depictions of the eagles of the House of Hohenzollern.
10. Fehrbelliner Platz
This is the second of the five monumental stations on U3. It is slightly more floral than the Hohenzollernplatz station.
11. Heidelberger Platz
This is the third of the five monumental stations on U3 and, with its vaults, probably the most pompous station in the city.
12. Rüdesheimer Platz
This is the fourth of the five monumental stations on U3. It abounds in wine motifs as the square where it is located bears a name of a town in Hesse known for its wines.
This is the last of the five monumental stations on U3. The motifs with which it is decorated are similar to those of other stations along the line.
In 1961-1989, this was the last station in West Berlin, after which trains passed to the ghost stations of the east part of the city. (The ghost stations of Berlin are well brought to life in a passage at the end of Péter Nádas’s magnificent A Book of Memories.)
This station, which was the first in Berlin to have escalators connecting its two platforms, also provides direct access to the Karstadt shopping centre. Yellow ceramic tiles, the trademark of the old U-Bahn stations of Berlin, also found its way here.
A pop-art station
17. Franz-Neumann-Platz (Am Schäfersee)
This is one of the most interesting U-Bahn stations in Berlin from the later decades. The theme of decoration are the trees and birds of Lake Schäfersee, which is located nearby. The central columns of the platform area show a bold tree stylisation.
The white tiled walls are divided into sections by stylised columns, which evoke the interiors of classical bathing establishments. This is one of my favourite U-Bahn stations in Berlin.
Completed in 1994, this station served as a location for cultural events, until U55 went into service in 2009. Elegant columns are placed asymmetrically on the platforms.