The Swedish architect Alfred Grenander has designed more than seventy underground and elevated station buildings in Berlin. His style evolved from decorative to modernist between 1902 and 1930 [untergrundbahn.de], [berliner-untergrundbahn.de].
Photo: Refurbished entrance building of Wittenbergplatz station, built in 1913 by Alfred Grenander.
The co-financing of the U-Bahn line to Dahlem (called U3 today) by the posh district of Wilmersdorf facilitated a prestigious architecture in some stations.
Photo [Daniel Erler, absence-of-fear.de]: Heidelberger Platz station from 1913 by Wilhelm Leitgebel.
Most of the newer stations in Berlin are by Rainer G. Rümmler. Designs range from 1960s Minimalist style and colourful 1970s Pop Art design to Postmodernism.
Photo [u-bahnbilder.de]: Postmodernist-style Rathaus Spandau station from 1984 by Rainer G. Rümmler.
Tours of the metro system, guided by experts. For dates and reservation contact the tour operator or check their website.
Night tours of metro tunnels on a curious topless carriage. The 2 hours tour runs along several metro lines, covering a distance of 35 kilometers. Book early. Tour operator: BVG (metro operator). Walking tours on metro tracks. Tour operator: BVG (metro operator).
Try the following tour, recommended by residents or metro enthusiasts:
The S-Bahn between Alexanderplatz and Savignyplatz provides a good overview of the city. Note Hauptbahnhof station on the way for the modern glass architecture. Walk 500 m south-east through Grolmannstraße to Uhlandstraße station and walk or take line U1 to Wittenbergplatz. Take a look at the restored Historism-style station from outside and inside, then take line U3 from there to the vaulted Heidelberger Platz station. Continue to Krumme Lanke open-air-station and walk a kilometer south to the spectacular Art Nouveau-style Mexikoplatz S-Bahn station. Take line S1 to Potsdamer Platz. The concourse from 1939 is notable for its interestingly lit columns. Take line U2 to Alexanderplatz for some good examples of architecture by Alfred Grenander and change to line U8 to Herrmannstraße for more examples. For Pop-Art stations by architect Rainer G. Rümmler, take line U7 and watch out between Fehrbelliner Platz and Rohrdamm. For Rümmler's lavish 1980s style, continue to Rathaus Spandau or take line U8 from Franz-Neumann-Platz to Wittenau.
U-Bahn-Museum. An exhibition of signals, signage, ticket machines and other metro-related objects. Historical trains are used on special tours. Since 1999. Location: Abandoned control centre in a metro station. At Olympia-Stadion metro station. Hours (check before visiting): On the second Saturday of each month 10:30 to 16:00. Admission: 2 EUR. Reference: ag-berliner-u-bahn.de (official website). bvg.de.
S-Bahn-Museum. Thousands of artifacts from the unsteady history of Berlin's commuter metro between world war, cold war, re-unification and today. Everything outside the showcases may be touched. The permanent exhibition is being continuously updated. Since 1996. Location: Unused transformer substation. Address: Rudolf-Breitscheid-Straße 203, 14482 Potsdam. At Griebnitzsee (S7) metro station. Hours (check before visiting): April through November on the second weekend of each month, Saturday and Sunday 11:00 to 17:00. Admission: 2 EUR. Features: Special exhibitions, museum shop, guided tours upon appointment. Reference: s-bahn-museum.de (official website).
Depot for Municipal Transport (Monumentenhalle). The usually closed train collection of the German Museum of Technology (Deutsches Technikmuseum) houses more than fifty historical vehicles of municipal transport, including horse trams, trams, buses, U-Bahn (metro), S-Bahn (commuter rail), M-Bahn (Maglev) trains and special vehicles in a hall of 4,000 square meters. The train depot is linked to the main museum building with a historical railway. Since 1995. Location: Historical train depot. Address: Monumentenstrasse 15. At Yorckstrasse metro station. Hours (check before visiting): Only annually on Sundays in September, 10 am to 6 pm. Admission: free. Reference: sdtb.de, sdtb.de (official website).
Berlin had 15 stations in the middle of the city closed after the wall went up in 1961, but these have now all re-opened since 1989. The sections of the Western network that passed under East Berlin were: Stadtmitte to Schwartzkopffstr. (line U6), Bernauer Str. to Heinrich-Heine-Str. (line U8), Potsdamer Platz to Nordbahnhof (lines S1, S2). During that period, all trains on those lines were pulling slowly through the dimly lit stations, where occasionally one or two armed GDR soldiers could be seen guarding the empty platforms.
After a train arrives in station: "Zug nach [terminal station]" (meaning "Train to [terminal station]"), a few moments before departure: "Einsteigen, bitte" ("Please board"; mp3 from haltestellenansage.de), departure announcement: "Zurückbleiben, bitte!" ("Please stand back"; mp3 from haltestellenansage.de), all by a pre-recorded female voice) and a buzzing while the doors close, similar to Paris. Next-station announcements are like "[Dong] [name], Übergang zur U-Bahnlinie [line], Ausstieg rechts" ("[Dong] [name], transfer to subway line [line], exit on the right"; mp3 from haltestellenansage.de).
Line U8 train departing from Rathaus Reinickendorf station.