Promenade, shopping boulevard, a place to stroll around and have a good time – the Holtenauer Straße. Not only is it a very popular shopping street but also one of the most important ones of the state capital Kiel. With it’s length of 4194 meters the shape of this street reflects the history of Kiel’s urban development over the years. But in which ways did it change over the decades and is it still such an important part of the city of Kiel?  

Holtenauer Straße, corner Brunswicker Straße (today Dreiecksplatz), 1905: city archive /  CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

The Holtenauer Straße is a popular shopping street ever since the 19th century. First mentioned as a country road in 1286 as „Via Danica“ in a document of count Johann II, the street existed several decades before the actual city around it – Kiel. The street gained it’s current name in 1869 by the municipal colleges. 

The Opening of the Tramway Line 4

While it was an insignificant road till the middle of the 19th century, it developed with the rapid growth of Kiel from 1865 onwards into one of the most important inner-city traffic axes. In 1896 the tramway line 4 ran on Holtenauer for the first time. This was an important factor, because it brought more potential customers to the shopping street. And this still applies today. Today no street in Kiel is served by more bus lines than the Holtenauer. No surprise: On the 1500 meter long promenade there are around 150 different shops. You’ll find different restaurants, food shops, clothing stores, cultural institutions like cinemas, theaters and much more. The specialty stores and the gastronomic establishments offer many individual specialties that are hard to find anywhere else in Kiel.

Holtenauer Straße, view in the direction of Dreiecksplatz, line 4: city archive /  CC BY-SA 3.0 DE  

It’s a place that invites you to hang out with your favorite people, stroll around with them in the small shops and drink a coffee in-between. Already more than 100 years ago especially the high society of Kiel used to stroll along the promenade to see and be seen. At that time there where only a few shops there to visit. Nowadays, unlike elsewhere, smaller stores still dominate the scene here. Bars and restaurants complement the offer and provide space for relaxation for all tastes – no matter if young or old. 

The Building of the Arcade Roofs

During the second world war the shopping street was mostly destroyed. During the reconstruction many new residential and commercial blocks were built right behind the street

 Rubble clearance and reconstruction Holtenauer Straße, july 1947: city archive /  CC BY-SA 3.0 DE 

In the 1980s the walkways on both sides in this area were covered with glass – the arcade roof was built. Peter and Thomas Kersig were the creative forefathers of the arcade roofs. They felt that the canopy made perfect sense in rainy Kiel but they had to convince the city fathers of their idea. After a couple of years of persuasion the city finally agreed to it. Today the roofing is still there and has more than proven it’s worth. The demand for retail space in the Holtenauer street is still high. Moreover the many well-attended events contribute to the popularity. Just in august a big street festival was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the association “Die Holtenauer.“ 

An Association with Tradition

Founded in 1972 the association “Die Holtenauer” has been taking care of the Holtenauer Straße for 50 years now. The purpose of the association is to sustainably increase the overall attractiveness of the Holtenauer Straße neighborhood. One of the long-time chairmen of the association is Marten Freund, owner of the Schlemmermarkt Freund. He’s  a member of the association’s board for ten years now and is committed to ensure that the street remains a popular shopping destination and continues to attract visitors. For Marten Freund especially the owner-operated stores make the charm of the Holtenauer street.

“Holtenauer just has a certain flair! The mix of different sectors set the Holtenauer Straße apart from other shopping streets like Holsten Straße.“

Marten Freund, owner Schlemmermarkt and chairmen of the association “Die Holtenauer”

Residential and commercial buildings at Holtenauer Straße, view in the direction of Jungmannstraße, December 1970: city archive / CC BY-SA 3.0

50 years ago, 1972 the first members formed a community of interest. Nowadays the association includes 150 volunteer members. Many of them are store owners in the street just like Marten Freund, who’s store was opened 35 years ago. Together they wanted to make a difference and that principle has never changed. The association wants to preserve the individuality of the street.   

Even with big competitors like the Holsten Straße or Sophienhof, association members want the street to be perceived as important as it has been decades ago and prove to the city that their street has every right to exist. In order to strengthen the association cohesion and to attract customers the members organize and manage big events like the white night or street feasts every year. „Our goal is to not let the success of the street sag,“ said Freund.  „That’s why we’re sticking together.“