This week we are continuing our travel series on Germany. Berlin, her capital, is trying to regain its former glory of the 1920’s when it was known as very liberal city bustling during the night with parties and cultural highlights. The reunified city has completely transformed in the last 20 years and the East-West divide seems to have vanished. The city has a population of about 3.4 million and is thus smaller than London or Paris. It has many open spaces and parks and feels less congested than the French and British capitals. Berlin has a metropolitan feel and is very international, maybe a little less so than London. Generally, most people speak English in tourist places and most taxi and bus drivers will be able to understand some English.
The city is ideal for a weekend city break but has enough to offer for anyone who likes to stay a little longer. Some of the highlights are:
Germany’s federal parliament is housed in a magnificent old building. Inside the glass dome, there is a balcony that one can climb to watch the parliament. It is supposed to symbolise the transparency of Germany’s democracy. If you want to go up, make sure you go early in the morning, as the queue is usually at least an hour-long. The building is very historical and reminiscent of Prussia’s glory.
Not far from the Reichstag, the world-famous Brandenburg Gate marks the beginning of the great avenue Unter den Linden, where all the foreign embassies as well as various grand hotels are situated. This is a must for anyone visiting Berlin for the first time. Various shops are situated there and it is only a few blocks away from the famous Friedrichstrasse, Berlin’s answer to Oxford street. Many may duly notice, that there is a Starbucks with free WiFi next to the Brandenburg Gate.
Tiergarten und Siegessäule
A huge park is situated right in front of the Brandenburg gate. A street connects East and West Berlin and the famous victory column (Siegessäule) marks the end of the park in the Western part of the city. Especially on a hot summer’s day, this token of nature gives a beautiful opportunity to sunbathe and have a pick-nick in the midst of the busy city. The Victory Column is beautifully lit at night (see photograph).
Berliner Dom, Deutscher und Französischer Dom/ Gendarmenmarkt
Berlin has not one, not two, but three cathedrals, the German and the French cathedrals, which are identical buildings in style and architecture are next to a square where each December the famous Berlin Christmas market (Gendarmenmarkt) takes place. Berlin is in particular famous for a sweet called Baumkuchen, a German Delikatessen. The Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) is situated on the museum island next to world-famous museums – for the very culturally minded tourists.
KaDeWe – Shopping Centre
The Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe), situated in West Berlin, is a huge shopping centre with the biggest gourmet market in Europe. There you can easily find spices that are even hard to find in London. It used to function as the main shopping centre of West Berlin and is now an international attraction.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
This is probably one of the most fascinating war memorials of all times. The church is composed of a modern church build inside the ruin of a formerly magnificent gothic church. It still functions as a church but symbolises the horrors of the Second World War, hopefully never to happen again. This is definitely a must for the visitors of Berlin who want to learn about the colourful history of this great city.
This famous shopping street in the East of Berlin is also the centre of Berlin’s famous night life. Various bars allow great nights out. Notably, Berlin is much cheaper for going out than London or even Paris. Not far from there is the famous Alexanderplatz, the new commercial centre of Berlin, built on a spot where once stood the Berlin wall.
Checkpoint Charlie and Mauermuseum
This famous gateway between East and West Berlin is a must for any visitor. It marks the old border between the Soviet and American sectors in the formerly divided city. Nearby is the Mauermuseum, a museum exhibiting the history of the Berlin Wall.
Make city breaks to Berlin affordable, fly London to Berlin and grab a great hotel with easyJet holidays. Also, tourists might be happy to know, that the subway (U-Bahn) runs all night long in Berlin.
Images reproduced from http://www.lycee-gutenberg.ac-creteil.fr, http://farm5.static.flickr.com, http://farm3.static.flickr.com,
http://upload.wikimedia.org, http://www.berlin.de and http://www.schwarzaufweiss.de
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