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As the largest city in Germany and one of the largest on the European continent, many people first think of this city when they think of Germany. Considering it has been the capital of four different ruling entities within the area, from its current state all the way back to the Kingdom of Prussia, the history of Berlin dates back to the 13th century.
This history can be felt as you walk the streets of Berlin, even though much of the city is now dedicated to high-tech industries. Why should people visit Berlin? With nearly 150 ambassadors stationed in Berlin, the international melting pot this city has become makes it the perfect place for a holiday.
Book a Tour To Visit Grunewald
Grunewald is the largest forested area within Berlin and the best part is that it is easily accessible by virtually any mode of transportation. It’s the perfect, tranquil spot to get away from the hustle and bustle that the city can provide at times. Tours are available of the area, but they fill up quickly, so an advanced booking is highly recommended. Take time to explore the many trails throughout the forest, take a picnic lunch, and a change of clothes if you plan on going swimming in one of the freshwater lakes in the area. Horseback rides are available as well!
Have Fun in the Markets At Mauer Park
If there’s one thing that Berlin loves, it’s an open green space. In Mauer Park, however, the grassy areas aren’t for relaxation: they’re for bartering. The markets in Mauer Park are an adventure of singing, dancing, and shopping for incredible bargains. Karaoke is done on a grand scale with an emphasis on entertainment value. It is common to see crowds of thousands all singing to the same song! If you want a glimpse of what Berlin is truly about, take time to enjoy Mauer Park during your visit.
Enjoy the Museums of Berlin
Berlin is a unique city in that it was split after World War II by the ruling parties of the region. Communism took over East Berlin, while democracy took over West Berlin. At the heart of this split was the Berlin Wall, which often divided families for decades. Now that the wall is down and the country is united once again, there are several history museums that are worth touring that all give a glimpse of the time. The best of them all is the DDR Museum, which gives you a glimpse of what life behind the Wall was like.
Are You Ready To Visit Berlin?
Berlin is one of those cities that you can keep exploring on every holiday because there is so much to see and do. From an aerial tour of the city in a vintage WWII aircraft to a tour of Checkpoint Charlie, the city that was once divided has been made whole again and it is a wonderful sight to see. Why should people visit Berlin? With quiet moments and lively nightlife all to be had, Berlin is a city that will leave a lasting impression on you from the first moment you step foot inside its borders.
Travel to Berlin, Germany
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Sightseeing and Tours
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Map and distances
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When you are visiting the city, make use of the local tourist information where you can get free and professional assistance in planning what to see and do during your vacation. At the tourist information you can also get a wide range of brochures and maps of the city and the region for free.
In the following section you can find more local information about the city.
Berlin Tourist Information
Am Karlsbad 11
T: +49 030 – 2647480
F: +49 030 – 25002424
www: website link
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Best of Berlin
What to see and do in Berlin ?
Completed in 1791 by C.G.Langhans this gate was inspired by the propylaea in Athens. Brandenburger Tor became Berlin’s trademark and a symbol of unity. Karl Friedrich Schinklel designed the quadriga (1793) after the return from Paris (Napoleon’s war booty) and added the Prussian Eagle and the Iron Cross to the Goddess of Victory. When the statue was recast in 1958, the Prussian symbols were taken away. They were added once more in 1991. From 2000 until 2002, the sandstone monument was being thoroughly renovated.
Fernsehturm (Television Tower)
Designed by Hermann Henselmann, the tower was erected between 1965-69. It is 365 metres high. A revolving café-restaurant at a height of 207 metres (one rotation takes half an hour) allows you to see as far as 40 kilometres away, provided the weather is fine of course.
Alexanderplatz, Mitte (Centre)
S-Bahn station: Alexanderplatz
Reichstag (Parliament Building)
Monumental example of Wilhelminian style. The German parliament building, designed by P.Wallot, was erected between 1884 and 1894. Burnt down on 27 February 1933. The Red Army raised the Soviet flag when Berlin fell in April 1945. Restored between 1957 and 1972.
The German Parliament reconvened here again in 1999 after extensive restorations. Norman Foster’s glass dome (23.5 metres high and 40 metres wide) became Berlin’s newest symbol. The dome, illuminated during the night, can be visited. Great views. The restaurant is also open in the evening.
Platz der Republik
S: Unter den Linden
This square used to be called “Oxen Square”. It got its present name after the visit in 1805 of czar Alexander I. It developed into an important traffic junction and business centre from 1882 onwards. Alexanderplatz was modernised in the 1920s. Today only the office buildings of Peter Behren (Alexander – and Berolina-Haus) remain from that period. The surrounding apartment blocks were part of the reconstruction programme of the GDR, such as the “Haus des Lehrers” (Teachers House) with its frieze and the domed Congress Hall.
Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Holocaust-Mahnmal)
The monument in remembrance of the Jews that were killed in Europe, was inaugurated in 2005 and is located south of the Brandenburger Tor. The 2751 steles made of grey slate are designed by architect Peter Eisenman from New York. The monument immediately grew into a touristic attraction in the capital. The field full of steles wants to drive the visitors to an individual confrontation with the extent of the Holocaust. The exhibition in the underground ‘Ort der Information’ remembers the victims, among other things by telling typical life and family stories, and it gives an image of the extermination camps.
South of the Brandenburger Tor
This was Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s very first state assignment (1816). Heinrich Tessenow reconstructed the building in 1931 as a memorial for the fallen of the First World War. Back in GDR times it was dedicated to “the victims of fascism and militarism”. Today it is known as “the central memorial to the victims of war and dictatorship”.
Unter den Linden 4
Bus 100, 200
This building in flamboyant baroque style was completed in 1780. It was popularly called “the commode”. The library today is part of Humboldt University. Next to it stands the Alte Palais (Old Palace), built by Carl Ferdinand Langhans between 1834-36.
Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
The emperor William II had the unpretentious cathedral built by Schinkel torn down and replaced by this monumental neobaroque construction (1894-1905). After an extensive restoration the cathedral was consecrated once more in 1993. The big organ is particularly impressive, as is the imperial rood loft.
S-Bahn station Hackescher Markt
Bus 100, 200
Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
Not much is left from the wall that ringed West-Berlin for 28 years and separated East from West. On Bernauer Strasse (Wedding) a memorial to the Wall was installed with a few remnants of the infamous wall as a background.
Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer
Bernauer Straße 111
The most handsome Berlin square owes its name to the Gens d’Armes regiment that used to have its stables and guard post here between 1736 and 1773. When the first National Theatre burnt to the ground in 1817, it was K.F.Schinkel who constructed a new theatre in 1821. Gustaf Gründgens was the manager from 1934 to 1945. Repairing the war damage took from 1967 to 1984. The interior was turned into a concert hall, and was loosely inspired on Schinkel’s design. The French Cathedral has a panoramic platform and a restaurant. It also houses the Hugenotenmuseum. The German Cathedral shows the permanent exhibition “Fragen an die deutsche Geschichte”
U: Französische Straße
The environment around the Hackesche Höfe is very popular amongst tourists and at the same time it is a very beloved area for going out at night. In the arcades under the S-Bahn-station and in the Rosenthaler Straße, many cafes and restaurants have settled. You should definitely have a look at the courtyards here. Some of them have been thoroughly renovated (like the Rosenhöfe), others are still in a somewhat deplorable state, like the Haus Schwarzenberg, which documents themes of the Nazism, just like the Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt and the Anne Frank Centrum. In his workplace for the blind, Otto Weidt provided work and shelter for Jewish laborers. This way they could escape the Holocaust.
S: Hackescher Markt
In 1891 the emperor William II gave the order for the construction of this church. He wanted to dedicate the building to the emperor William I, his grandfather. The church, in neo-norman style and sumptuously fitted out, was terribly damaged during the war. Just a few remnants remained (mosaïcs). In the 1960s Egon Eiermann constructed a conspicuous new complex around the old ruins.
U and S: Zoologischer Garten
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Inaugurated in 1957. This congress centre was a gift from the United States of America. In 1980 the concrete roof construction caved in. On the occasion of Berlin’s 750th anniversary the centre was reconstructed. It has been the “House of the World’s Cultures” since 1989, and is now a lively cultural centre that mainly attracts guests from non-European countries.
Bus: 100 and 248
This second parish church of Berlin was constructed around 1270. It was renovated and extended on several occasions. The church possesses valuable works of art such as a bronze font (1437), a marble pulpit (1703) by Andreas Schlüter and the “Danse Macabre”, a 15th century fresco painted after an outbreak of the plague.
U and S: Alexanderplatz
Bus: 100, 200
This synagogue in moorish style was built in 1866 by F.A.Stüler. The design was by E. Knoblauch. The interior, heavily damaged by bombing, was blown up in 1958. Only the façade was saved. Inaugurated in 1995 as the “Centrum Judaicum”.
Oranienburger Strasse 28-30
S and U: Oranienburger Tor
The substructure, erected with simple stones found in fields, dates from 1230, the nave in gothic style from the 15th century. The towers were built in the 19th century. The church was heavily damaged during the war, and was reconstructed between 1981 and 1987.
Today it houses a concert hall and sections of the Märkische Museum: sacral applied art and a history of Berlin until 1648 and interchanging exhibitions, with modern art as well.
U and S: Alexanderplatz
The bridge over the Spree was opened in 1896 and in 1945 it was blown up at Hitler’s command. The heavily damaged bridge was not usable anymore after the building of the Berlin Wall. In 1972 the restored bridge became an border crossingpoint for pedestrians. Since 1995 it is being used by cars again and the elevated railway goes over the bridge as well. It connects Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, those together form one district.
U: Schlesisches Tor, Warschauer Straße
Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island)
This idyllic castle was erected between 1794 and 1797 for king Frederic William II’s sweetheart. The layout dates from the 19th century. P.J. Lenné designed the park, which no longer houses any exotic animals, except for the peacocks of course. On the other bank of the River Havel stands Nikolskoe Blockhouse (wonderful panorama). Its style imitates a Russian wooden house. The Church of St.Peter and Paul is very Russian in design too.
Museums in Berlin
Museuminsel (Museums Island)
Altes Museum – Ägyptisches Museum
This building was designed by K.F. Schinkel (1825-1830), which became the first royal museum in Prussia. For the museum’s 175th birthday, Nefertiti, the ‘most popular Berliner’, and the Egyptian Museum returned to the Museuminsel after their stay in Charlottenburg. The collection of Egyptian art is being exhibited in the bright lounges on the top floor. Right under Nefertiti the ‘praying youngster’ invites you to come visit the archaeological collection.
The building, shaped like a Greek temple (built from 1867 until 1876), is designed by Friedrich August Stüler, one of Schinkel’s students. In 2002 it was reopened at the Museuminsel as the first restored museum. It houses masterpieces from the 19th century (pictorial and sculpture art).
The design of this museum (1897-1904) is by Ernst von Ihne. Formerly the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. Splendid staircase in domed hall. Closed for reconstruction until 2006.
The last museum to be erected on Museum Island (1912-1930). The museum houses several collections: the Pergamon altar piece is surely the biggest crowd puller of the Antiquities department. The Market Gate of Milete is also very impressive. The jewel in the crown of the Museum of Islamic Art is without any doubt the façade of Mschatta Castle (Jordan). The Asia Museum astounds with Ishtar’s Gate and Babylon’s Processional Avenue.
U and S: Bhf. Friedrichstraße
Bus 100, 200
After seven years, in 2004 the federal state museum found its place for modern art, photography and architecture in a restored former glass stockroom. In the functional rooms genre crossing art is being exhibited, which either arose in Berlin in the beginning of the 20th century or is important to Berlin.
Alte Jakobstraße 124-128
U-Bahn-station Hallesches Tor, Kochstraße
Bus M29, M41, 265
The house at Checkpoint Charlie recalls the history of the wall and tells of the many adventurous escape attempts by East-Berliners
The federal state museum for Jugendstil, art deco and functionalism shows representative chambers and a selection from its beautiful collection of china, glass, ceramics, silver- and metalware.
U: Richard-Wagner-Platz, Sophie-Charlotte-Platz
Bus 109, 145, 309
Built between 1877 and 1881, it started its career as the Museum of Applied Art. Thoroughly demolished during the Second World War, it was restored in 1981. In use ever since for large temporary exhibitions. Sweeping recent restoration has made it possible that major exhibitions can be mounted. The “Werkbundarchiv” (Museum der Alltagskultur des 20.Jahrhunderts or Museum of Everyday Culture of the Twentieth Century) will be housed in a part of the building.
U: Potsdamer Platz, S: Anhalter Bahnhof
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart
The oldest railway station in Berlin (1840) was reconstructed on the basis of the plans of the architect Josef Paul Kleihues. A new wing was also added. A central place in the exhibition is taken up by the so-called Marx-collection of works by leading artists of the last 30 years, such as Andy Warhol, Anself Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg or Joseph Beuys. The latter was even given a separate section. Exhibitions of contemporary art are regularly mounted. In 2004 the museum was connected to the Rieckhallen to make room for the contemporary art of the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection.
Bus 123, 147, 187, 245
History and stories of Berlin from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, repeated in the permanent exhibition: ‘Schaut auf diese Stadt’. The striking brick building was specially designed for the collections of the museum by Ludwig Hoffmann (architectural official, 1899-1908).
Am Köllnischen Park 5
U: Märkisches Museum
The magnificent collection of modern classics from art collector Heinz Berggruen – permanent possession of Berlin – shows besides 70 works from Picasso also paintings from contemporaries like Klee, van Gogh and Cézanne.
Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte
The western wing of the castle originally served as a theatre, later it became a furniture stockroom and after that a museum. Since 2004, after the thorough renovation, the 175 years old museum now has a very modern look. It houses real treasures like the reproductions of Schliemann’s Troy foundings and the Berlin golden hat from the Bronze Age.
Langhansbau, Schloss Charlottenburg
Helmut Newton Stiftung
Shortly before his dead in January 2004, the top photographer designed his plans for his foundation together with the state museums, and had the former officer mess at the station Zoo rebuilt into a modern exhibition area. On the first floor you can see his work in long term interchanging exhibitions.
U: Zoologischer Garten
The Ethnologisches Museum invites you to take a tour through art and cultures outside of Europe. Truly sensational is the new permanent exhibition ‘Art from Africa’. It looks like a treasure house that presents masterpieces from African artists – especially sculptures and masks – and addresses the meaning of the art from that continent. Different but just as fascinating is the large collection from the Pacific with original boats and houses, and the collection from Central America with art from the Maya and the Aztecs. Another centre of gravity is the exhibition ‘Indians of North America’.
In the same building you’ll also find the Museum für Indische Kunst and the the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst. In the cleverly organized lounges you can admire the treasures from cultures that are thousands of years old.
Museum Europäischer Kulturen
The Museum for European cultures has found a new home at the Bruno-Paul-Bau, which is connected to the Ethnologisches Museum. The first long term exhibition looks back upon ‘The hour zero. 1945 survive.’
Zeughaus – Deutsches Historisches Museum
Important baroque building with splendid façade and unusual roof ornamentation. Erected between 1695 and 1706. A.Schlüter designed a.o. 22 “masks of dying warriors” for the inner courtyard. At first an arsenal, it later became the “Ruhmeshalle” (Hall of Fame), a military museum and finally the site where the nazis devised their propaganda machinery. It was called the Museum für Deutsche Geschichte in GDR times. Today the Deutsches Historisches Museum.
Hinter dem Gießhaus 3
Bus 100, 200, 147
Due to the spectacular MoMa exhibition, the enormous glass hall of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1965-1968) became the best known museum in Berlin in 2004. After the departure of the pieces from New York, the museum with the sculpture garden again houses pictorial art and sculptures from the 20th century, with an emphasis on the classic modernists.
Potsdamer Strasse 50
Bus: M29, M41, 148, 200
Culture in Berlin
Komische Oper (“Comic Opera”)
When he chose the name Komische Oper (“Comic Opera”), Walter Felsenstein was making a reference not only to the immediacy and popularity of the French Opéra comique but also to the old Komische Oper in Berlin, at Weidendammer Bridge on Friedrichstrasse, which had been destroyed during the war. Hans Gregor, who was General Director there from 1905 to 1911, had been inspired by similar ideas and demanded “art without conventions, prejudices or artistic vanity”.
Felsenstein noted in the programme for the opening premiere of the Komische Oper: »Although Komische Oper is the literal translation of Opéra comique, if it is taken literally it is misleading, suggesting a meaning which is not completely appropriate for the genre of musical theatre so unmistakably described by the French term. What is generally known in Germany as Singspiel, Opera Buffo, Operetta or Spieloper does in part fit into the category that is meant here, but it is largely lacking in terms of both musical and intellectual aspiration.
T: +49 30 47997400
In the heart of Berlin beats the pulse of modern circus: welcome to the Chamäleon Theater! Here, people from all around the world, fulfill their promise of escaping and dissolving themselves into the full stage adventure. The Art Nouveau ballroom that houses the Chamäleon Theater in Berlin Mitte is a beautiful and traditional element of the Hackescher Höfe that has been restored to its former glory.
When entering the historic ballroom at the Hackesche Höfe, everyday life becomes a faint memory as the hours of orchestrated magic take the lead. Acrobatics, music, dance, comedy, and drama form a harmony in one of the most exquisite theaters of the city. Nonetheless, rough edges and bold performances are not to be missed. Internationally renowned artists with a high virtuosity and individuality, achieve a sensuous, nonverbal pleasure, which will make you speechless.
Rosenthaler Straße 40/41
Shopping in Berlin
While shopping in Germany might lack the glamour of France or Italy, it can still a great experience both for imported products and local goods. Traditional German buys include porcelain, handicrafts, toys, timepieces, beer steins, nutcrackers and cutlery.
Berlin has cast off its image as a drab center of intrigue to emerge as a shopping centre for fashion, antiques, furniture and home accessories. The famous Kurfurstendamm (Ku’damm) is home to the clothes shops, boutiques and department stores. All the grand names of fashion and perfume have their outlets here..
A parvenu to the upmarket Berlin shopping scene is the new Friedrichstrasse. It’s a mile long thoroughfare which features a lot of design shops, car shops, coffeehouses (with the inevitable Starbucks) and the Galleries Lafayette. The nearby Unter den Linden features several boutiques, located mainly between Friedrichstrasse and the Brandenburg Gate.
A must-see is a legend from the cold war days, the Kaufhof on Alexander Platz. Once the haunt of communist bigwigs from Moscow and other soviet bloc countries, nowadays it’s just a big old department store.
Kreuzberg with its many shops and flea market is the place to browse junk items, second-hand books, and second-hand clothes. Even more exotic is the Turkish ambiance of the Kreuzberg Türkenmarkt. For more offbeat items, the second-hand stores and art boutiques around Hackescher Market are the places to go.
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