From the World Heritage inscription:
The set of housing estates in the Berlin Modern Style provides outstanding testimony to the implementation of housing policies during the period 1910 – 1933 and especially during the Weimar Republic, when the city of Berlin was characterized by its political, social, cultural and technical progressiveness. The housing estates reflect, with the highest degree of quality, the combination of urbanism, architecture, garden design and aesthetic research typical of early 20th-century modernism, as well as the application of new hygienic and social standards. Some of the most prominent leading architects of German modernism were involved in the design and construction of the properties; they developed innovative urban, building and flat typologies, technical solutions and aesthetic achievements.
As I’ve stated before, architectural world heritage sites are often the least interesting to the casual traveler. The buildings usually aren’t famous and often the architects aren’t famous either. To top it off, the buildings often aren’t open to the public because they are still in private hands.
In the case of the Berlin, Modernism Housing Estates has all of the above problems. If you are a student of architecture or urban planning, the housing estates might be interesting, but I think most people would walk by without ever noticing they have world heritage status on a par with the pyramids or the Taj Mahal.
There are six different collections of these estates surrounding Berlin. Many of them are not easy to get to and would require a long bus ride or taxi to get there. The one I visited was the Großsiedlung Siemensstadt which is very easy to get to. Just take the U7 subway line and get off at the Siemensdam station. The moment you walk out of the station you will see some of the buildings. Walk a few blocks into the neighborhood and you can see some historical signs talking about the housing estate.
This was the eleventh stop on my November 2011 Eurail trip to European UNESCO sites.
View my complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.