After World War II most of Berlin was destroyed and there was a desperate need to reconstruct the city. Much of the initial reconstruction were not the most interesting since there was a need for a speedy building process to put roof on the top of the inhabitants heads. Hence much of the early reconstruction in the city was hardly what you could consider as architectural masterpieces.
In the western part of the city the reconstruction was helped by large American funding in the form of the Marshal Plan. In the east there was no such foreign help to fund the reconstruction – to the contrary the Soviet had taken most things of value when they conquered the eastern part of Germany. So the building in the east was generally poorer than what you would find in the west.
One spot was the exception to this rule – the street the new government decided to name Stalin Allee – here they wanted to make an impressive boulevard which would be extremely broad road. The name of the street seemed like a good idea while Stalin was still alive – but when he suddenly died they decided to give the street a new name and renamed it Karl Marx Allee. The name actually seemed more appropriate for a new communist Germany – to name the street after the German who wrote the original communistic manifesto along with his friend Friedrich Engels a bit more than a century before they started to construct the new fancy boulevard.
The construction of the street was very ambitious the government wanted large buildings and symmetry along the street to give an impressive appearance. The street also needed to have some large shops and theaters to give entertainment for the people of East Berlin. This actually worked to a certain degree and the street became a focal point of the social life of East Berlin. Unfortunately the funds to make the constructions were insufficient so they never really managed to make the street quite as it was intended.
Even though the street was completed as planned it is still a pretty interesting street to go and wonder. This is one of the best places to see the communist architecture from this era which you can find in several countries around Eastern Europe. And the street in Berlin is probably the one where most people will go and have the option to enjoy this style of architecture since not that many people will head for Kiev or Minsk where you can get better examples of the communist architecture of the era.
You can walk the entire stretch of the street from Alexander Platz if you like or you can catch a train to Schillerstrasse or Strausberger Platz and walk from one of these two places towards Frankfurter Tor if you don’t want to walk the full distance. The first part from Alexander Platz to Schillerstrasse is the least interesting part of the walk.
When you are done enjoying the communist style buildings you can catch a train back from the station or Frankfurter Tor or you can walk down to the river where you will find the East Side Gallery where you can have a look at one of the most interesting parts of the former Berlin Wall which has been transformed into an art piece.