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Why Berlin Is a Paradise for Nerds

Last Updated on August 9, 2023

(This article originally appeared in a 2015 issue of Where Berlin.)

Heed the call of your inner geek and explore these un-hipster havens.

Neon sign reading "We sell hell & suffer well."
The Depeche Mode-inspired neon at Hotel Ultra in Mitte would be a welcome addition to the Museum of Letters.

Say what you want about Berlin, but it’s one of the few major world cities that manages to walk that fine line of being both cosmopolitan and unpretentious. Here, amid the trendy clubs and skyrocketing real estate prices, you’re free to be yourself, which for some of us means embracing our inner nerd.

In addition to the multitude of old-school stores catering to music and comic-book lovers, the German capital boasts veritable meccas of geekdom, such as the Computer Game Museum. The Friedrichshain institution not only showcases original game consoles — including the famous Nimrod from the dinosaur days of 1951 — but even allows visitors to play most of them. Test your barrel-jumping skills on Donkey Kong, protect the planet from Space Invaders, or take a slightly-too-long gander at the life-size Lara Croft, if that’s your thing.

Taking a more forward-looking approach is the Game Science Center (Charlottenstr. 1), which bills itself as “the future museum.” The brainchild of four game developers offers hands-on projects and technologies that may soon be commonplace, such as eye-controlled games and full-fledged virtual reality. Meanwhile, in a neighborhood not so far, far away, Madame Tussauds has opened a special Star Wars exhibit, where members of the Rebel Alliance and Galactic Empire put aside their differences long enough to admire the waxwork likenesses of their respective heroes.

And of course, there are the niche-nerd attractions, such as the Wunderkammer Olbricht at me Collectors Room for connoisseurs of esoterica, the aptly named Museum of Things for, well, stuff, and the graphic-design paradise of the Museum of Letters (Holzmarktstr. 66), a typography sanctuary that “rescues threatened letters from public spaces.”

Cap off your day with a trip to Gelateria Mos Eisley (Herrfurthpl. 6), named for the spaceport in the original Star Wars film. Just remember: Han shot first.

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