Berlin. The spirit of the city in 10 attractions
The stitched-together heart of Germany and also one of the main cultural and intellectual hubs in Europe. Berlin, the capital of Germany, is a tremendous city that deserves to be explored in detail. Let’s put on the map 10 of the most interesting and accessible attractions of the city. Take this as a start of the Berlin discovery:
1. Brandenburg GateBrandenburg Gate
One of the city’s best-known monuments. During the period of Berlin separation, the Brandenburg Gate was located in an unmeaningful place behind the Berlin Wall. Built in 1791, it was made famous in modern times when it was reopened after the fall of the Wall. It now serves as the central piece of Pariser Platz. At the top of the gate there is the Quadriga, a chariot pulled by four horses, all supported by 12 Doric columns forming five passageways.
2. Alexanderplatz and Fernsehturm TV tower
Alexanderplatz is Germany’s most famous city square. Ever since German reunification, Alexanderplatz has undergone a gradual process of change with many of the surrounding buildings being renovated. Despite the reconstruction, it has retained its socialist character, including the much-graffitied "Fountain of Friendship between Peoples" (Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft), a popular venue. The square includes the 368m high Fernsehturm TV tower. You can visit the tower’s observation deck for brilliant views of the city. You can also see the tower from everywhere in the city.
The Reichstag, built in 1894, is indeed one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings. It is Germany’s parliament building. Its most distinctive feature, the Norman Foster-designed glass dome, is served by a lift and affords wonderful 360-degree city views. For guaranteed access, book a free visit online.
4. DDR Museum
This original and outstanding museum take you back in the heart of the former Communist East Germany. The interactive exhibits catch a rare glimpse into life under German socialism. You can test your driving skills gripping the wheel of a Trabi on your way home from work, relax in a socialist living room, prove your nerves of steel during a Stasi interrogation simulation, hear the sounds of East German music beat against your eardrums, view propaganda posters and sporting event replays.
5. Classic Remise Berlin
A classic car center with vintage cars for sale, glass garages, service. Actually, this is not a museum, but it is the place to go if you’re interested in looking at cool cars. The have everything from modern supercars to very old ones. It is a “look but don't touch” place with free entry. You can wander around at your own pace. It is a great place for spending an hour or two. It has even an on-site restaurant.
6. Berliner Cathedral
Crossing the river Spree from the DDR Museum, enter into the cavernous Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral). Berlin’s most famous church has a rich and complicated past. Since the 15th century, this place was a site of worship. The current building is a reconstruction of the fourth version of the site’s church. Finished in 1905 and restored after World War II, the Berliner Dom is an outstanding example of Neo-Renaissance and Prussian historical architecture. After you will admire the incredible frescos, arches and pillars of the Berliner Dom, you can go upstairs through the Dome Walkway to enjoy panoramic views over Berlin. Or you can go into the subterranean part, to visit the Hohenzollern Crypt. Here you will find one of Europe’s most important royal burial places, bedecked with late-Gothic style coffins and monuments.
Tiergarten is one of the world’s largest urban parks, popular for jogging, picnicking, strolling, and - beware - nude sunbathing. Walking across the entire park takes at least an hour. It shows you a slower, calmer side of Berlin compared to its bustling city life.
Tiergarten is full of both greenery and important memorials. Here are some of the sights to seek out if you are interested: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Soviet War Memorial (the burial place of more than 2,000 Soviet soldiers who were killed in battle during the Battle of Berlin during World War II), Golden Victory Column (can be climbed for wonderful views of the garden, commemorates Prussia’s victory over France and Austria in the 1860s), Bellevue Palace (the Residence of Germany’s president).
8. Holocaust Memorial
Built in 2005, this football-field-sized memorial by American architect Peter Eisenman consists of 2711 sarcophagi-like concrete columns rising in sombre silence from undulating ground. You’re free to access this maze at any point and make your individual journey through it. But beware of the fact that you can encounter even uncivilised tourists that climb the columns. If you want to visit this place, show respect for the meaning of the memorial. For more information about the memorial visit the underground Ort der Information, whose exhibits will impress everyone. Audio guides and audio translations of exhibit panels are available.
9. Zeiss Grossplanetarium
At its opening in 1987, it was the most advanced planetarium in East Germany and after the recent renovation it has upped the scientific, technology and comfort factor ante once again to become one of the most modern in Europe. It's a beautiful space to delve into the mysteries not only of the cosmos but of science in general. Many programs are in English, some are set to music, others are geared to children. Tickets are available online.
10. Museum Island
Museum Island is an area of Berlin that is home to five of the city’s most imponent museums, encompassing 6000 years' worth of art, artefacts, sculpture and architecture from Europe and beyond. The architecture of the buildings and the amount of history locked between their walls has made Museum Island a UNESCO World Heritage site in and of itself.
Walk through ancient Babylon, meet an Egyptian queen, clamber up a Greek altar or be mesmerised by Monet's ethereal landscapes. The complex of buildings occupies the entire northern half of the little Spree Island where Berlin was born in the 13th century.
The first museum built was the Altes Museum, which houses Greek, Etruscan and Roman treasures. Behind it, the Neues Museum showcases the Egyptian collection, most famously the bust of Queen Nefertiti, and also houses the Museum of Pre- and Early History. The temple-like Alte Nationalgalerie focuses on the 19th-century European art. The island's top draw is the Pergamon museum, with its monumental architecture from ancient worlds, including the stunning Ishtar Gate from Babylon. Pergamon is currently under restoration and will be open in 2019. The Bode-Museum, at the island's northern corner, is famous for its medieval sculptures.
Spread across the city, a tour that reaches all the stops presented here would take more than a day. If you want to visit them all, we recommend you to book accommodation along this itinerary, two or three nights. Then, after a day full of discovers, you can relax in the bars, restaurants and clubs nearby your hotel or motel. Good luck in discovering the German spirit of life.