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Berlin may be relatively cheap by international standards but that doesn't keep rents—especially in the center—from rising. As a consequence, neighborhoods that were once considered fringe have now moved to the forefront of young Berlin's consciousness, discovered as they often are first by (mainly Turkish) immigrants, next by artists, then by entrepreneurs, and finally by wealthier professionals who have the money to transform them, for better or worse.
Two former West Berlin neighborhoods fighting for their identities while on the cusp of gentrification are Neukölln, just southeast of Kreuzberg below the Landwehrkanal, and Wedding, north of Mitte-Tiergarten and west of Prenzlauer Berg. While these areas don't boast a wealth of tourist attractions, a leisurely walk through them turns up enough shops, cafés, parks, and local eateries to make visiting well worthwhile.
The Wedding Amtsgericht (local courthouse Brunnenplatz 030/901–560) is an imposing structure resembling a gothic castle that glows green at night, but during the day is the center point of a charming neighborhood full of newly renovated buildings and artist's ateliers that push up against a small canal just to the north. Leopoldplatz is the spiritual and commercial heart of Wedding, anchored by the complementary churches Neue Nazareth Kirche (Neue Nazarethstrasse 51 0177/270–4385) and Alte Nazareth Kirche (designed by Schinkel, Leopoldplatz), and bordered on one side by the main commercial street Müllerstrasse.
In Neukölln, the charming Rixdorf centers on Richardplatz, a perfectly-preserved example of an Old Berlin village within the big city, which hosts what many consider to be the city's best Christmas market on the first weekend in December. The beautifully kept and colorful Körnerpark is a welcome respite from such a bustling part of town and the refurbished Neuköllner Oper (opera house Karl-Marx-Str. 131 030/688–9070) is making its mark once again with alternative and surprising performances of long-forgotten operas as well as humorous musical productions.
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