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Berlin's legendary boulevard Ku'damm turns 125

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Berlin's legendary boulevard Ku'damm turns 125
Photo: DPA
07:02 CEST+02:00
Berlin on Thursday kicks off celebrations for the 125th anniversary of Kurfürstendamm, the German capital's answer to the Champs-Élysées. Special events will highlight the history of the legendary boulevard all summer long.

An exhibition made up of 125 glass display cabinets stationed along the 3.5-kilometre-long street will get the party started. The cabinets will narrate the fortunes of the boulevard Berliners affectionately Ku'damm

Kurfürstendamm is known around the world – and that's the way it should stay in the future,” said Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit while announcing the celebratory programme this week.

Named after the Prussian electors, or Kurfürsten, who once used the path to reach a hunting lodge, the boulevard began to take its current form in the 1870s, when Chancellor Otto von Bismarck wanted to create a rival to the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

“Berlin wanted to catch up with the French metropolis after the Franco-Prussian War,” said historian Sven Kuhrau. “The Ku'damm was a prestige project.”

During the Cold War, the boulevard became the de facto heart of free West Berlin. But following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Ku'damm lost importance as the pendulum swung back to the city's historic centre in the Mitte district.

Today, the street is a vibrant shopping mile, and it is once again attracting investment.

“Money is once again flowing west,” said Burkhard Kieker, the managing director of the tourism organization Visit Berlin, referring to how the renovations of once communist East Berlin had largely been finished over the past 20 years.

This summer's Ku'damm celebrations will include unusual tours offering new insights into the boulevard and its impact on the city. There is also a smart phone app offering GPS-directed itinerary of 14 sights.

People are being encouraged to send in their own personal Ku'damm photos to a dedicated website and the boulevard will receive special attention during the city's Festival of Lights in October, as the anniversary festivities close.

DPA/DAPD/The Local/mry

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