Isn’t it weird how we pass by buildings day in day out, knowing nothing about their rich history and the wonders and tragedies their thick walls might be concealing?
With all of its windows covered in brown paper I didn’t look at Oranien-Apotheke in Kreuzberg twice. And why would I? How interesting can a closed pharmacy possibly be? Until one day, when the paper was gone and the door open…just like that. Being naturally drawn towards mysterious places like these – looking abandoned one day and welcoming you to enter the next – I obviously had to check it out.
I’m so glad I did, because what I discovered behind the walls of this old pharmacy is beyond beautiful. Oranien-Apotheke was founded in 1860 on Oranienplatz 14, and from 1886 onwards owned by Dr. Franz Albert Lutze, who became “purveyor to the court” for the German colonial territories and the colonial protection force of the emperor – indeed a place rich with history!
More than a hundred years later filmmaker Lukas Schmid and photographer Christoph Mack used the beautiful pharmacy Dr. Lutze had built and turned it into a charming French brasserie. ORA opened its doors only very recently, on April 14th to be exact, and I can honestly say that it is one of the most characterful places I’ve ever been to.
Most of the original furnishings – like the dark wooden apothecary cabinets and even some of their historical contents, have been preserved and lovingly complemented by equally dark tables and upholstered chairs and benches. The menu is still rather concise, but already holds everything a coffee addict with a sweet tooth might desire. I for one have already fallen in love with their rice pudding with apple and raspberry compote and the heavenly cinnamon rolls.
If you do happen to be in Berlin these days I urge you to check it out asap. Right now, I don’t think many people now about ORA. There’s no articles talking about it (although Stil in Berlin beat me to it), and even the website isn’t up yet, but it is only a matter of time before Berlin’s finest hipsters find out about it and start claiming it as their own… what can I say, ORA is housed in an old pharmacy in Kreuzberg; of course it will be besieged by hipsters 😉