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History of the site
The site of the present-day Europa-Center, in "New West" Berlin (also known as "City-West"), was from 1916 home to the Romanisches Café, a meeting place for writers, artists and people in the theatre business, as well as those who aspired to join them. After being bombed during the Second World War in November 1943 the building lay in ruins. For a decade the premises were used only intermittently, according to need. Makeshift constructions were used variously by wrestlers, circus performers and missionaries, followed by food outlets and briefly a cinema hosting so-called Sittenfilme ("films of manners"). A local newspaper described the site as a "stain on Berlin's calling card".
Soon after the division of the city by the construction of the Berlin Wall, in 1961, the situation changed. Berlin businessman and investor Karl Heinz Pepper was appointed to oversee construction. He commissioned Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petschnigg to design and build an office and shopping centre following the American model. Construction work began in 1963, and on 2 April 1965 the Europa-Center was inaugurated by Mayor Willy Brandt.
What had been built was a complex with a total floor space of 80,000 square metres, divided into distinct units: a two-storey foundation with a basement and two inner courtyards, a cinema, a hotel, an apartment block, and the box-shaped high-rise with a height of 86m, 21 storeys and 13,000 square metres of office space. In 2005 the operators of the complex gave the number of shops and food outlets as around 100.
On top of the high-rise, and visible across Berlin, is a large metal star-in-a-circle symbol, the logo of car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz. It weighs 15,000 kg, has an outer diameter of 10 metres, completes approximately two revolutions a minute, and glows at night with the help of 681 fluorescent tubes.
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- Website of the Europa-Center in Berlin (English version)