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Secret passage to a lost market hall

Facade of the former Market Hall (Markthalle IV) in Dorotheenstrasse, Berlin

Towards the end of the 19th century, fourteen market halls were built in Berlin, an exercise in municipal planning designed to help regulate the city's fresh food trade and enforce new standards of hygiene and conservation.

One of the largest - and loveliest - was the Markthalle IV, which opened in 1886 and occupied an entire block stretching from Dorotheenstrasse to the riverside Reichstagufer.

Equipped with ice-houses, an electricity generator and even its own police station, hundreds of stalls supplied foodstuffs ranging from fish and meat to dairy produce and baked goods.

Nevertheless, Berlin's rapidly changing urban landscape quickly began to take its toll on the market hall's profitability.

With the surrounding area increasingly targetted for the construction of commercial properties, the former residential population began to disappear and, with it, the market's customers.

Period photograph of the Dorotheenstrasse market hall, 1900
Details of the ceramic tiling on the facade of the Markthalle IV, Berlin

The number of traders fell by over 20 per cent in the decade from 1901 to 1911, and eventually it was decided to sell off the ailing space to make way for a new post office headquarters. By 1913 the market was closed, and demolition began.

Although most of the structure was completely razed, the entranceway in Dorotheenstrasse was incorporated into the new building, and still stands today, restored to its former glory.

Now home to the Federal Government's Press and Information Office, it's worth pausing, if you happen to be passing, to admire the beautiful facade.

Plan of the former Markthalle IV showing tunnel to the Spree River

And yet another, far less obvious relic of the Markthalle IV also remains generally unnoticed alongside the River Spree.

Plan of the former Markthalle IV showing tunnel to the Spree River

When the market was first constructed, a passageway was excavated directly from the river embankment into the building's vast storage cellars.

Facilitating the delivery of goods transported by water, the gated underground tunnel was the only one of its type in the city.

Long since sealed off, its entrance is nonetheless still visible in the embankment wall; a 'secret' passageway leading to the vaults of a vanished market hall.

Blocked entrance from the River Spree to the former market hall in Dorotheenstrasse, Berlin

Former Markthalle IV (now Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung): DorotheenstraƟe 84, 10117 Berlin
Former passageway to Markthalle IV cellars: embankment in front of Reichstagufer 12, 10117 Berlin


See also:
Moabit's market hall

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