Postcard from... Berlin

 

 

The coffee is reputedly “dead good”, but that may have more to do with the location than the quality of the beverages on offer. Café Strauss is Berlin’s latest cemetery café.

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a country that has the lowest birth rate and one of the most elderly populations in the world,  the phenomenon is becoming increasingly popular.

Set in the middle of a graveyard in Berlin’s alternative Kreuzberg district, Café Strauss combines the austerity of a morgue with the serene atmosphere of a church: it has white walls, square pillars and high, arched windows looking out on to a broad vista of tombstones.

It serves tea, coffee and cakes to a mixed clientele made up of people visiting the graves of deceased relatives, and local residents and tourists in search of  tranquillity. “There were some people who were concerned that their relatives wouldn’t be able to rest in peace,” admitted Martin Strauss, the manager who opened the café in May  this year.

Now he claims the venue has become so popular that some visitors have even applied for grave lots that are in full view of the café’s terrace. The notion that cemeteries should be  silent refuges off limits to all but the dead and the bereaved is clearly passé.

As a recent  Café Strauss customer remarked in the visitors’ book: “This place creates a wonderful connection between the world of the living and the dead..”

Café Strauss is Berlin’s second graveyard café. Small wonder that plans are afoot to open two more.

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