Berlin Travel Guide


Brandenburg Gate
The impressive and symbolic Brandenburg Gate that lay forlorn for so long in the no man’s land behind the Berlin Wall, is now once again renovated and accessible, along with the newly reconstructed Pariser Platz that links the gate to the beautiful Unter den Linden Boulevard. The gate is Berlin’s only remaining city gate, built of sandstone between 1788 and 1791 with 12 Doric columns according to a design by C.G. Langhans. Six columns support an 36ft (11m) transverse beam, similar to the propylaeum of the Acropolis in Athens. The massive gate is topped with a stunning statue of the Goddess of Victory facing east towards the city centre (this was added in 1794). The gate is closed to traffic, as is the adjacent Pariser Platz, a gracious square that was once surrounded with beautiful buildings sadly destroyed in the Second World War. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall new buildings have been built, however, to designs closely following those of the originals.

Check Point Charlie
The infamous border crossing point in the wall dividing West and East Berlin has now become a shrine to the wall’s memory with the addition of a museum, Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. For nearly 30 years, between 1961 and 1990, Checkpoint Charlie in the Friedrichstrasse was the only crossing point between East and West Berlin. The soldier’s post can be visited, and tourists can be photographed under the border sign.

Eastside Gallery
The remains of the infamous Berlin Wall have now become the largest open-air art gallery in the world. The longest section of the wall, which has been preserved, stretches from Ostbahnhof station to the Oberbaumbrucke, and has been given over to graffiti artists from around the world. A total of 118 artists from 21 countries have exerted their skills on the 4,318ft (1,316m) long section of the wall, and this collection has become a Berlin landmark and a tourist attraction. Best known paintings are Dimitri Vrubel’s Brotherly Kiss and Gunther Shaefer’s Fatherland. The gallery is billed as an international memorial for freedom.

Jewish museum
Although relatively new the Jewish Museum in Lindenstrasse has already gained an international reputation for its significant architecture and unique exhibitions that bring history alive. The bulk of the museum is housed in a windowless and doorless steel-clad, silver building, designed by Daniel Libeskind, sited alongside the yellow Baroque edifice of the Berlin Museum. Visitors enter the Jewish Museum through the Berlin Museum to explore the exhibition rooms, which are clustered around a main axis void, designed to signify the empty and invisible aspects of Jewish history.

Hamburger Bahnhof
One of the most popular art galleries in Berlin is housed in a train station. The historic Hamburger Bahnhof, built in 1846 at the Tiergarten, was badly damaged during the Second World War, but has been restored and reopened, with some modern elements added to the architecture, as an exhibition venue for an extensive contemporary art collection. The former station now offers 107,639 square feet (10,000 sq metres) of space filled with works by the likes of Andy Warhol, Josephy Beuys and Roy Lichtenstein. The basis of the exhibition is the Marx private collection, but there are changing exhibitions and good examples of the Italian Transavanguardia and minimalist art on show too.

Potsdamer Platz
This vibrant square is the heart and soul of the 'New Berlin', which has emerged since the fall of the wall in 1989. The original square was once one of the busiest junctions in Europe with a major train station sited on it. However after damage during the Second World War and being cut through by the divisive wall, it became a decayed wasteland. Since the fall of the wall, however, a building boom has been taking place around the Potsdamer Platz, which now boasts an exciting mix of restaurants, shopping centres, hotels, a casino, theatres and cinemas that draws both Berliners and tourists seeking good food and recreation. Focus of the square is the 22-storey Debis Haus, designed by Renzo Piano, featuring an atrium with cathedral-like dimensions, and its neighbouring Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, a shopping mall with an Imax cinema. The Sony Centre is the most recent addition, consisting of seven buildings around a light-flooded arena, which also houses Berlin’s popular Film Museum. The Kollhoff building features a panorama platform, reached by Europe’s fastest express elevator, which offers views of the city.

The historic district of former East Berlin.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
The ruins of this famous landmark, damaged during World War II bombings, serve as a symbol of the destruction of war.

Altes Museum
An important archaeological museum with a large collection of classical artifacts.

New Synagogue Berlin (Neue Synagoge Berlin - Centrum Judaicum)
This famous Jewish landmark was damaged both by the Nazis and by Allied bombings, but has been restored to house an exhibition of Berlin's Jewish culture.

Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom)
This ornate Protestant cathedral is one of Berlin's best known landmarks.

Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg)
Built from 1695–99 as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, this palace is a stunning example of baroque architecture.

Unter den Linden
This famous East Berlin street is lined with interesting attractions and historic sites.

Bauhaus Archive / Museum of Design (Bauhaus Archiv Museum fur Gestaltung)
Collection focusing on the Bauhaus, the famous school of architecture and design. The building which houses the collection was drafted by Walter Gropius, founder of the school.

Part of Berlin’s charm is its proud grittiness, but don’t chide yourself for being bourgeois if it gets to you - it got on the nerves of Friedrich der Große (Frederick II the Great), too. The ruler of Berlin (and all of Prussia) from 1740 to 1786 built his favorite abode Sanssouci, outside of Berlin in the town of Potsdam.
'Without a care' was the French name of his palace, though thanks to considerable care taken by its architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, craftsmen, and artisans, it is hailed as the Versailles of Germany. Sanssouci was intended as a summer residence, and though Friedrich stretched out the seasons he spent here, tourists don’t have the same privilege: many buildings close between mid-October and April. The best attractions are open through winter – Park Sanssouci’s Schloss Sanssouci and Neues Palais; and the Neuer Garten’s Marmorpalais and Schloss Cecilienhof. The compact town’s beauty, both faded and restored, makes for a quaint respite from big-city Berlin. Villas lining the lakes and parks also provide tax-respite for their celebrity residents living larger outside Berlin.

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