The capital of Germany, Berlin is a cultural center that dates back to the 13th century. At one time it was a divided city and today it is well-known for its modern architecture, the art it offers and nightlife. Visitors can still see the graffiti covered remains of the Berlin Wall and one of its landmarks the Brandenburg Gate has become an iconic symbol of reunification.
The Reichstag Building sits on the Mauerstreifen, the military zone that was between two sides of the Wall. Today it is the seat of the Federal Government and visitors can get an amazing view of the city from its glass dome.
Berlin’s signature attraction is the Brandenburg Gate, built in 1791. Pariser Platz was laid out at the foot of the gate and today is home to many important buildings.
Residents of the city call the Berlin Television Tower – Fernsehturm. It can be seen at a distance and rises 368 meters in the air. It is the tallest structure in the city. It was built in the 1960s so visitors could get an unusual 360 degree panorama of the city.
One of the most impressive squares is the Gendarmenmarkt, located close to Friedrichstrasse, Berlin’s exclusive shopping street in the central Mitte district. Here you can find three of the most impressive examples of architecture in the city – the Concert House designed by Schinkel and the German and French Cathedrals – the Deutscher Dom and the Franzosischer Dom.
Berlin’s most legendary street is Friedrichstrasse. This shopping street nicely combines the tradition of the “Golden Twenties” with the modern architecture of the New Berlin. There are many newly decorated buildings, exclusive offices and coffee shops where one can get a feel of the spirit of New York right in the heart of Berlin. For design and the taste of great fashion there are posh boutiques and department stores Quartiers 205/206/
Most impressive is the German Cathedral or Berliner Dom with its wonderful dome. It is a great example of late 19th century architecture. Nearby is the German Historical Museum and the Museum Island.
Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the city’s most important exhibition centers – the Old Museum, the New Museum, the Bode Museum, the Pergamon Museum and the Old National Gallery. The art collections in these buildings include more than 6,000 years of art and cultural history.
Located just out of the center of the city is the lovely Charlottenburg Palace. Here visitors can see fine collections of china and paintings. It is surrounded by a beautiful palace garden right beside the Spree River. The gardens include the mausoleum of Queen Louise, the Belvedere with its world-renowned collection of KPM porcelain and the new pavilion. Directly opposite are the Charlottenburg museums. The palace was built as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, the first Queen of Prussia. There are impressive Baroque state rooms, the famous porcelain cabinet and the new wing built by Frederick the Great in 1742.
Located between the Wedding and Mitte districts on Bernauer Strasse is the Berlin Wall Memorial. It consists of the Memorial to the Victims of the Wall, a Documentation Center and the Chapel of Reconciliation. Visitors can get an idea of the reality of the wall seeing the surviving section of the wall and the watchtower.
Checkpoint Charlie has been the scene of several spy thrillers and espionage novels ranging from James Bond’s “Octopussy” to “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” by John le Carre. Starting on September 22, 1961 at the most famous East German – West German border crossing, allied soldiers registered members of the American, British and French armed forces before their trip to East Berlin. The Friedrichstrasse border checkpoint was the scene of the so-called tank stand-off in October 1961. Nearby is the Berlin Wall Museum.
Once a so-called no man’s land today Potsdamer Platz has changed entirely since the fall of the wall in 1989. It is home to the Sony Center, skyscrapers and many shops. It is also the place where you are most likely to see stars and celebrities and not just during film festivals.
Friedrichshain Park has been the place to go for relaxation and recreation for more than 160 years. It is Berlin’s oldest municipal park. The 78 and 48 meter high green “bunker” mountains are popularly known as “Mount Klamott” and provide spectacular views of the city. In the summer this is the place for sun worshippers, picnickers and strollers. It is also the place for amateur and professional volleyball players.
The oldest surviving building on the street Unter den Linden is The Armory. It is the most important large Baroque structure in the city. It was originally built as an armory and has been home to the Museum of German History. It was built in 1706 and has four wings each at a length of around 90 meters. It was converted into a “ Hall of Fame for the Prussian Army” in 1875. The building was severely damaged during the war and its interior was restored between 1949 and 1965. Since 2006 is hosts the Museum of German History’s permanent exhibition “Germany History in Images and Documents”. The extension building, designed by Chinese-American architect IM Pei opened in May 2003 and hosts temporary exhibitions.
One of the most famous squares in Berlin and the largest is Alexanderplatz. It was named after the Russian Czar Alexander I, who visited the capital of Prussia in 1805. After the construction of the Central Market Hall in 1886 and Tietz Department Store between 1904 and 1911 the square became one of the main shopping areas in Berlin. It became famous when the classic novel “Berlin Alexanderplatz” written by Alfred Doblin was published in 1929. After being practically destroyed in WW II is was rebuilt in the 1960s and was converted into a pedestrian zone. Here you’ll find the Berlin TV Tower. Alexanderplatz is the largest urban square in all of Germany.
A most impressive and amazing architectural project is the Berlin Central Station. It was opened on May 28, 2006 and is the largest and most modern connecting station in Europe. There are two main levels for trains and three connection and business levels. There is a sophisticated system of large openings in the ceilings at all levels and lets natural light in.
The Botanical Gardens have 22,000 kinds of plants and rank among the three most important botanical gardens in the entire world. They were created between 1897 and 1910 designed by architect Alfred Koerner. The gardens consists of three areas – the park-like arboretum with woody plants and roses, the exhibition area that showcases plants from around the world in their geo-graphical context and the collection of 1,500 types of plants, which have been systematically categorized. There is also a large 3,000 square meter garden with a focus on smelling and touching different kinds of plants for visitors who are visually impaired or in wheelchairs. On the eastern edge of the park are fifteen greenhouses, including a tropical green house which was built in 1907 and counts as one of the largest in the world and a great example of 19th century glass and steel architecture.
The Botanical Museum is located on Konigin-Luise Strasse and had a comprehensive scientific collection of plants. It is Europe’s only museum that is totally botanical in nature. Visitors can study plants that are associated with the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs.
St. Mary’s Protestant Church was founded during the first medieval urban expansion of Berlin in 1250. It is a Gothic-style church with a nave and two aisles. In the Baroque era a pulpit was added.
Dicke Marie or Fat Mary is Berlin’s oldest tree. It first buried its roots in the Brandenburg sand some 800 or 900 years ago. Back in 1244 when the name Berlin was first officially mentioned Marie was bigger than the tallest house. She has also been visited by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and finally got her name around 1800. Two boys supposedly Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt named the tree after their cook. The gnarled, English oak stands 26 meters tall to the north of the Grosser Malchsee Lake in Tegel, a few minutes walk from the Tegeler Harbor Bridge.
The Tegeler Harbor Bridge in the Tegel district is popularly known as “Sechserbrucke”. It spans a pedestrian bridge, the entrance to the harbor and the mouth of the Tegeler. It was built in 1909 as a steel truss arch bridge and is now a listed building.
The Grunewald Tower on the Havel River offers fantastic views of the Havel landscape. The red brick building was built in 1897 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kaiser Wilhelm I. Originally it was called “King Wilhelm Tower” however it was Wilhelm, who referred to is as “Kaiser Wilhelm Tower”. In the upper part of the building is a domed hall with a marble statue commemorating Wilhelm I. 204 steps lead up to an observation platform, offering a panoramic view of the Havel landscape.