Berlin insiders' guide: Shopping

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The following is part of a series of visitor guides to Berlin. See also:
Berlin on a budget | Restaurants | Jewish Berlin | From the locals | Bars | Culture | Relaxing

With its nine fashion schools, countless international artists, a long tradition of craftsmanship and some of the world's most innovative designers, Berlin has become a shopping paradise, especially for people on the lookout for originals.

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Christmas is a long way off, but as long as you're in Germany you might as well take advantage of the opportunity to get some of those famous handcrafted German Christmas tree ornaments -- not to mention nutcrackers, music boxes, candlesticks and wooden toys -- at the Original Erzgebirgskunst (website). (Sophien Strasse 9 in Mitte; hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday)

And while you're there, Berlin-Mitte is home to more art galleries than any other neighborhood in any city in the world. If you don't believe it, take a walk down August Strasse, Linien Strasse, Tucholsky Strasse, Koch Strasse, Zimmer Strasse and Charlotten Strasse ... and see if you can do it in under an hour.

The Lumas Editionsgalerie (website) is an international retailer of high-quality original photography with astounding selections of styles, periods and subject matter. (Hackesche Hofe in Mitte; tel.: 03028040373; hours: 7 p.m. weekdays; 1-6 p.m. Sunday)

It's hard to say what's more interesting about the Art Center in Mitte -- the loads of international art for sale (currently young Asian artists' paintings, African sculptures and more) or the house itself, with its glass front, waterfall and bar. (Friedrich Strasse 134, across from the Friedrichstadt Palace; hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily; tel.: 03027879027)

If you like the used-book stalls on the bank of the Seine, try the book and art market at the Zeughaus on the banks of the Spree across from the Museum Island (Museumsinsel). At this upmarket flea market you'll find not only rare editions but also jewelry, art and kitsch. (Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday)

At the OK-Laden in Mitte you will find some of the best available trinkets from the Third World: bags and briefcases but also toy cars -- just about anything that can be recycled from colorful tin cans and plastic. None of it is made to last forever, but all of it is made with breathtaking inventiveness. (Alte Schonhauser Strasse 36)

KPM stands for Royal Porcelain Manufacturer (Koenigliche Porzellanmanufaktur), the famous 200-year-old porcelain-makers of Prussian royalty. KPM-Welt features a shop with the newest creations (including a porcelain version of Knut, the Berlin polar bear) and a museum. (Wegely Strasse 1 in Tiergarten; tel.: 03039009215; also at Unter den Linden 35; hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily except Sunday)

For serious Catholics with a sense of humor as well as tourists with a feel for the weird, Ave Maria is chock full with a surprisingly varied array of praying Maria figures, blinking Jesus hearts, angels and saints. (Potsdamer Strasse 75, not far south from Potsdamer Platz)

With 2,000 different whiskeys, 50 cognacs and 50 rums as well as a variety of champagnes and wines, Wein & Whiskey is the ideal place for your serious alcohol shopping. (Eisenacher Strasse 64, in Schoneberg)

About 150 jewelry, fashion and furniture designers from Berlin display their newest creations in Berlinomat, a spacious showroom, cafe and shop designed for shoppers who love to take their time looking around. (Frankfurter Allee 89, in Friedrichshain)

-- Astrid Ule
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