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Losing myself in Berlin’s most surrealist bar & labyrinth

*** Please note: as of April 2014, the Peristal Signum is no longer open ***

Persistal Signum

It finally looks like spring has arrived in Berlin! Which means it’s time for some beer gardens and good ol’ fashioned outdoor drinking. Last year I visited Berlin’s most surrealist bar and now that the weather’s good, I think you should too!

Wilde Renate

Peristal Signum: Berlin’s Labyrinth Bar

Berlin’s most surrealist bar experience is right where you’d expect it to be—in the trendy Friedrichshain borough where all the American hipsters and drunk tourists hang out. Just a few blocks from some of Berlin’s most legendary nightclubs, the club Wilde Renate is a mismatched collection of buildings surrounding a small beer garden. An easy place to get lost in—even more so because there’s a purposely built labyrinth underneath the club.

The labyrinth, Peristal Signum, isn’t just an art installation but a full-on experience for the mind. It was designed haphazardly by three artists over nine months in 2010. The maze was built completely out of found scrap materials (kind of like everything else in Berlin) and includes everything from glass bottles to car parts.

I visited the labyrinth for the first time on a cool summer evening last year. It took over an hour before we could enter (there’s a queue—find the person taking down names, usually under the tree with the canoe). When I visited last year it was a Bosnian woman wearing a white headband.

She took mine and my friends’ money, handed us each a surprisingly heavy gold-painted coin and told us she’d find us when it was our time to enter. In the meantime: beer.

Peristal Signum Berlin bar

When my time to enter the labyrinth finally arrived, I was blindfolded and escorted to a small chamber beside a stairwell and told to simply “follow the instructions.” You enter the labyrinth one at a time—it helps to keep the mystery, I suppose. The world outside, all those people drinking beers and enjoying the summer evening, quickly disappeared from my mind. I was alone in a dark room. I can still remember the strange quietness that overcame me in the blindfolded walk to the dark room. It’s amazing what you hear when you can’t see.

With the blindfold removed, everything from then on just got…weird.

The purpose of the labyrinth is to drive people forward (developmentally, emotionally, physically) through a unique and truly one-of-a-kind experience. Everyone has a different experience inside because the labyrinth itself is so strange and bizarre. One person might find something another didn’t, and though there are a few parts of the maze that are impossible to avoid, everyone seems to come out of it in a different state of mind. Inside you might feel lost and alone, but then the labyrinth changes and suddenly you’re no longer alone, no longer scared, but ready. Ready to get out. Ready to move forward.

My recommendation: visit Peristal Signum with a friend. And be prepared for a night you won’t forget anytime soon. Please note: photos aren’t technically allowed inside. Here’s a sample of some of the weird stuff you’ll see in there, but be prepared for much, much more extreme environments.

Labyrinth Wilde Renate

Labyrinth Berlin

Persistal Signum is open Wednesday to Saturday, from 6pm to 10pm, at Salon zur wilden Renate, Alt-Strahlau 70, Berlin. Expect a wait to get inside. The cost when I visited was 10€.

  1. Arinwen says:

    Interesting place! I don’t think I’d like being stuck in there by myself though!

  2. 35 of the best things to do in Berlin - Hipster Travel Blog says:

    […] Lose yourself inside Berlin’s surrealist bar […]

  3. Sam says:

    When I first saw the title of this post, I was geared up to get all grammar nazi on you…then I a) noticed that in fact “most surrealist” is not a double superlative and b) got over myself. Sometimes I get carried away. Anyway, this sounds like a cool place. I’m curious now what these “more extreme environments” could be.

  4. Very cool!! Going to send this post to my native Berliner boyfriend — I wonder if he’s heard of this place?

  5. Franca says:

    Such a cool place, it’s going on my list of places to check out for when I go back to Berlin, cheers Adam! :)

  6. Lesley says:

    Great post. Can’t wait to check this out (once I get enough guts to do so.)

  7. Angela says:

    Awesome! I will definitely visit when I find myself in Berlin!

  8. Scarlett says:

    This is CRAZY – I’d love to give it a visit x

  9. Cheryl Howard says:

    I need to visit this place someday!

    • Adam says:

      Yes you do! Don’t go in heels or a skirt, though. It can be dangerous on the inside!

  10. Talon says:

    Glad to hear you go through it BEFORE you start drinking.

    • Adam says:

      Well, that’s depending how long the wait is. We had to wait over an hour to get inside, so we naturally had a beer or two. But I won’t lie that we were nervous about the experience so didn’t want to drink too much!

  11. Awesome! I just saw this bar on the last episode of the Amazing Race :)…yes, one of my favourite shows.haha.

    It looks super trippy. Berlin is high on our list and we’ll definitely check out this bar when we’re there.

    Cheers for the post!

    • Adam says:

      Awesome to hear that Dariece! Yeah, I was surprised to hear it was on the show as well – very cool!

  12. Anand says:

    AWESOME ! ! ! ! ! I really want to visit this place :)

  13. Eric says:

    So, I’ve just arrived in Berlin for a few days and just searched ‘things to do’ and found your list.
    I’m travelling solo (work :))but will give this place a shot…roll on Wednesday!

  14. […] very Berlin (“new” Berlin), it’s usually places like Mein Haus am See or the über-cool labyrinth at Wilde Renate (though that is allegedly closing soon so that something undoubtedly more cool can open it’s […]

  15. […] looking for it online. Searching “Berlin Labyrinth Bar” on google brought me to this blog post written a few years ago. The labyrinth, Peristal Signum exists within the club Wilde Renate – […]

  16. Anastassia says:

    Are you sure it’s officially closed?

  17. m says:

    I definitely checking this out! exciting

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