So this is where James Bond would stay in Berlin

Contemporary architecture, Berlin

Image credits: Wikipedia / Fridolin freudenfett (Peter Kuley)

Visitors who take the F10 ferry from Wannsee to charming Kladow have plenty to see. Sweeping views of Wannsee lake and its shores; cormorants, herons and seagulls; a glimpse of the distant Wannsee beach; and ... wow! Looming over the water's edge, a futuristic, gleaming white home that looks as if it could easily serve as a location for the next Bond movie.

The ultra-cool villa - which is found on the tiny Schwanenwerder island, Berlin's most exclusive residential address - includes a guesthouse, boathouse, pool and garaging for 5 cars, all set in 10,000 square metres of grounds.

The identity of its owners is shrouded in mystery, but the luxury home was designed by star architectural bureau Graft, and one thing's for sure: it cost far more than your average, bazillion dollar mansion.

The Spreebalkon or Brommybalkon: a riverside balcony in KreuzbergPfaueninsel in the Havel River, Berlin

Image credits: Flickr/ e-ole4

Schwanenwerder: exclusive villas, and a Nazi stronghold

Once an overgrown, uninhabited wilderness, in 1882 wealthy businessman Wilhelm Wessel bought the entire island. His sons took on the task of landscaping the territory, providing it with a road and bridge to the mainland (which is still the only means of access) and parcelled up the grounds for the construction of sumptuous villas.

By 1914, ten mansions stood on the island, owned by Berlin luminaries such as department store entrepreneur Rudolph Karstadt, and banker Oscar Schlitter. By the 1930s, Schwanenwerder featured in the German version of Monopoly as the most expensive address on the game-board.

Contemporary architecture, Berlin

Aerial view of Schwanensee and its villas, 1928/30.   Image credits: Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-00861

Tragedy struck after the Nazis seized power in 1933, forcing Jewish owners to relinquish their real estate for paltry sums. Joseph Goebbels moved into the villa formerly owned by Oscar Schlitter, and Hitler's personal doctor Theodor Morell acquired a nearby home.

Post-war, none of the rightful owners returned, and most of the old mansions were replaced by newer buildings. Yet Schwanenwerder's fame as one of Berlin's most exclusive enclaves gradually returned, and today it counts once again as the city's ultimate out-of-town address.

Inselstrasse 34, Berlin-Schwanenwerder Insel. To visit the island, take the S-Bahn to Nikolassee and walk. Some of the properties can be seen from the street, but most are well protected from the gaze of curious bypassers!

See also:
A bargain ferry trip
A vintage bus to the lakes
Discover Berlin's most beautiful historic villas

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