As the the capital and largest city in Germany, Berlin is a metropolis like non else. It is constantly touted as they edgy heartbeat of Europe – which makes it an absolute must for anyone wishing to experience the cutting edge of European culture. Here are my top 8 things to experience in this mind boggling city.
1. Stroll the Mitte
‘Die Mittestadt’ is the most historic part of the city that is home to some of the most iconic attractions in Germany. Nestled among the eclectic mix of bohemian and brutalist homes and cobble stone streets are less than subtle reminders of the cities’ chequered history. From the contrast of architecture styles dependent on suburb, alternate street art and the double brick trail that swerves erratically on the cities floor resembling the wall which no longer stands, ‘die Mittestadt’ is a great place to start and soak up Berlin culture.
2. Visit the Bundestag building
This neo-renaissance building is distinguished by its six large columns, captivating entrance and patriotic German flags that acts as the federal parliament house. The building tells an infamous story with its presence of Adolf Hitler and the event “Raising a flag over Reichstag” that was celebrated by the soviets post Nazi defeat. Entry is free however you need to make an online booking in advance and bring your passport on the day.
3. Visit Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate is one of the most well known sights of Germany; it is originally based upon the entrance of Athenian and Roman architecture. The monument supports the “Quadriga” which is the statue of the Roman Goddess of Victory standing in a chariot being drawn by four horses. Brandenburg Gate has been within the presence of famous historical figures such as Napoleon and his army who temporarily dismantled the structure in 1806. Brandenburg Gate is best seen at night when it is atmospherically lit which transforms its shape into a softly glowing masterpiece.
4. Visit Checkpoint Charlie
Built on the West just metres from the eastern wall, Checkpoint Charlie was a crossing point for the allied forces into the eastern block. The weatherboard shed stands surrounded by sandbags and barricades which remains a major symbol and memorial site of the cold war.
5. Tour Berlin Wall
The wall marks the events and individuals who suffered and perished during the partition of Germany and the Cold war and a visible representation of the divide that once separated the East from West. The wall once stood 12 feet high at its highest point and once spanned 140km (86 miles); it is made of cement, brick and barbwire. From the tactics of WWII to escapees of the Cold war, a tour is the best way to get everything out of this history rich landmark.
6. Visit the Fernsehturm
The Berlin TV tower stands in the Marien square and at 368 metres tall, it makes this landmark the tallest building in Germany. The tower contains the ‘revolver sphere restaurant’ which not only provides exquisite meals, but breathtaking, panoramic views of the whole city. Be mindful that there is often a wait outside due to a maximum limit of people.
7. Visit a museum
If you haven’t already guessed, Berlin is a ‘schatzkamme’ for history buffs. There are countless museums to choose from. The biggest being museum Island which is located on the Spree river, consisting of five museums where you can find anything from medieval artefacts to the bust of Nefrititis, a queen of ancient Egypt. There is also The Jewish museum of Berlin which is both touching and interesting through the sensitive display of belongings once owned by those murdered in the holocaust; it also offers an insight into the roots of the Jewish faith. A pass will set you back 18 euros for all five museums on museum island, this is less than purchasing entry individually.
8. Tour the infamous Olympiastadion
The Berlin Olympic stadium was the largest stadium in the world when it was originally completed in 1936 for the Olympic Games. Despite its age, it is still one of the largest sports arenas in Germany. Although the stadium was heavily bombed during the war, it has been redeveloped to shine through former glory into a modern masterpiece that combines magnificent sandstone columns that run around the exterior with a state of the art sports field. 11 euros will get you a guided tour through the world historic sporting events that took place as well as standing on the same platform Hitler once did.
I left my sunny home in Australia to explore the world and feed my insatiable desire for travel. Here you can find my experiences, tips and guides to help inspire you for your next trip!
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