Berlin is a city on the move. Since the Wall fell over twenty years ago, construction zones are commonplace in the reunited, capital city. With its ever-changing landscape and its roller-coaster history, Berlin is a fascinating place to visit.
Since Kevin and I remember the fall of the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer), we were transfixed by the sight of its remnants in the Friedrichshain district— where one of the longest sections stands relatively intact…
The East Side Gallery is a ¾ mile (1.3km) section of the (former) Wall covered with art and graffiti by artists from all over the world. The approximately 12 foot high concrete slab once served as a dividing line between democracy and communism, but now serves as a memorial for freedom.
The Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), completed in 1791, was initially used as an entrance gate to the city. It later became a crossing point between East and West Berlin after the Wall was built. It was here, on the 12th of June 1987, during a speech in front of the Gate, where U.S. President Ronald Reagan uttered the now famous line, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Fascinating stuff.
(The Roman Goddess of Victory stands high atop the gate in a chariot drawn by four horses.)
Checkpoint Charlie was another border crossing point between East and West Berlin. It was named Charlie by Western Allies, as it was the third checkpoint or “C” (as in Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc.). The US Army Checkpoint guard station (below US soldier photo) is a reconstruction of the original and now serves as a tourist attraction.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as, the Holocaust Memorial, was designed by American architect Peter Eisenman. Completed in 2005, the Memorial is made up of a grid of 2,711 concrete pillars. The undulating labyrinth creates a unique perspective for each person who visits.
In 1933, Bebelplatz, a public square in the Mitte district, was the site of a major Nazi book-burning—around 20,000 books were set fire. The window, in the center of the square, reveals empty bookshelves underground which serves as a memorial to this despicable act.
German History Museum
The German History Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum) offers a fascinating look into…you guessed it…the history of Germany. From 1 B.C. to present day, this museum delivers. If you have the time (a good chunk of time), it is well-worth a visit.
The Reichstag Building, home of German government, first opened in 1894. A major reconstruction in the late 1990s, by British architect Norman Foster, added a contemporary dome to the top of the building made of glass, steel, and mirrors.
The spiraling ramps around the dome offer amazing, panoramic views of the city. Security is extra tight to tour the dome, so prior, online registration is required.
…and that wraps up our visit to Berlin, which will certainly not be our last. We had a great time and learned a lot in this historic city.
Sophieneck – traditional German food
(Grosse Hamburger Strasse 37, Mitte Neighborhood)