There are many must see sights that nearly all tourists flock to when in Germany’s capital city – the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie – but one not to be missed is KaDeWe.
Opened in 1907, Kaufhaus des Westens is the largest department store in Germany and second largest in Europe, only behind London’s Harrods. The impressive building on Tauentzienstraße contains seven floors of luxury items. One could get distracted by the designer label clothing, beauty products and house wares, but upon entering the store, I suggest you head directly to the sixth story, the gourmet floor. Known as the delicatessen department, this mecca for anyone with an inkling of a foodie tendency offers thirty-three distinct stalls of foodstuffs. Upon exiting the escalator, visitors are greeted by a detailed re-creation of the Brandenburg Gate made entirely of marzipan.
Beyond the candied version of the monument is the chocolate and other sweets aisle, offering everything from the affordable Milka brand in its distinctive purple packaging to expensive, exotic truffles and elaborate boxes of confections. Moving to the interior of the floor, visitors can wind their way through one distinct area after another. One such section is dedicated to every imaginable type of condiment – from mustards to oils to vinegars and beyond, while another corner displays hundreds of jars of jams, jellies and honeys from Europe and elsewhere. Moving further still within, shoppers will find the fresh fish and seafood displays, a meat market, produce - both local and imported, and more cheese than one may have sampled in a lifetime. Those patrons interested more in beverages than food will find specific sections dedicated each to coffee, tea, wine, beer and spirits. In the pastry stall, illuminated glass cases are filled with petit fours, brightly hued macarons, fresh fruit tarts, and cakes in all shapes and sizes. The bread department proffers German rolls and loaves, as well as those varieties more commonly found in France. Various pantry items and staples are found here as well, everything from the German Knorr label to Uncle Ben’s rice and Asian snack mixes.
Nearly every stall offers limited seating so patrons can enjoy a bite to eat or sample different types of coffee while they shop. Prices are slightly lower if one plans to enjoy his or her purchased sandwich or slice of cake in-store rather than takeaway. One can sample a German beer on draught, pull up a seat at the oyster bar, sip on teas from around the world, or try a praline at the chocolate bar. For a more formal meal, head one floor up to the Wintergarten, boasting some of the best views of Berlin. Locals and tourists alike can be found wandering around the sixth floor of KaDeWe, but the delicatessen is most crowded on Saturdays.
While the prices of many of the items found on the gourmet floor are expensive, some great gifts and souvenirs can be found here. Rather than bringing home a shot glass with the German flag or miniaturized Reichstag, consider mementos such as tubes of spicy German mustard infused with tarragon, jars of Himalayan sea salt, locally made jam, or interesting chocolate concoctions.
KaDeWe is open Monday through Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Friday 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Located near the Wittenbergplatz, the department store can be reached by the U-Bahn (subway) lines 1 or 7 to the Wittenbergplatz stop.