Saturday, 13 August 2011

A (very) Abridged Version to Berlin Guidebooks

Where does one begin when it comes to touring Berlin? Flipping through your guidebook can be overwhelming as they give you endless lists of tourist attractions. So to make the start of your trip less daunting, I've compiled a list of a few places that I enjoyed visiting. Hope it helps! viel Spaß!

(Photo cred: Arvid Hoefgen)
The Reichstag
German Parliament - an obvious no brainer.

(Photo cred: Arvid Hoefgen)
The Reichstag Dome
Located at the top of the Reichstag, the Dome is the perfect place for a 360 degree view of Berlin.
(Neat tidbit: The mirror cone (on the left) gathers sunlight to heat the Reichstag)

(Rotes) Rathaus 
(Red) City Hall

Museum Island 
One of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Located on the Northern half of an island on the Spree river are 5 prominent museums: Altes Museum (ft. a collection of Classical Antiquities), Neues Museum (ft. Egyptian and Prehistorical collections), Alte Nationalgalerie (ft. Classical, Romantic, Impressionist and Modern artwork), Bode Museum (ft. sculptures and Byzantine artifacts) & Pergamon Museum 

(see below for a sneak peek inside the Pergamon)

Inside the Pergamon 
Anyone interested in Ancient Ruins (particularly the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon), this is the place to be!

The main train station is an architectural dream, inside and out. 

Checkpoint Charlie
 Check out the museum as well. They document how some people escaped to West Berlin - pretty neat how creative some people were. 

(Photo cred: Arvid Hoefgen)
Founded in 1200, the Nicolai Quarter is the oldest quarter in Berlin. 

(Photo cred: Arvid Hoefgen) 
Tip!: If you're ever in Berlin at the beginning of August, reserve a seat for one of the Young Euro Classic concerts. Each concert features a different youth orchestra from around the world (I saw Norway and Brazil's youth orchestra - what a high!). It's a great cultural experience (to see both an international orchestra and inside the concert house) at a reasonable price (15 euros/ticket). Highly recommended!

East Side Gallery
A 1.3 km section of the Berlin Wall where 105 artists each painted a piece to promote peace and freedom 

Other attractions: 
Victory Column 
Berlin Cathedral
Brandenburg Gate
Holocaust Mahnmal (Memorial of Murdered Jews in Europe)

Museums are a big part of Berlin's culture and there's one that will suit everyone's tastes, from fashion photography to German history. Here are a few good ones: 

Museum of Technology - Interesting and in-depth section on the History of Photography  

Hamburger Bahnhof 
A former train station turned museum. Showcasing contemporary art (the building is art itself)

KW Kunstwerke
A display of German independent art 

Photography Museum 
Featuring the works of the late fashion photographer Helmut Newton

Stasi Museum 
The tour guides were prisoners themselves

Jewish Museum 
Documenting Jewish traditions and history. Check out the "garden" at the back of the museum.

Topographie des Terrors
Documentation center of former Nazi headquarters 

For a lazy day:
If you don't feel like walking, but still want to catch some of the sites, take a ride along the S3, S5, S7, or S75 subway lines that go East-West. You'll catch a glimpse of many attractions, including the Reichstag, Bundeskanzleramt (the personal office of the Chancellor), Alexanderplatz, Hackescher Markt, and more! 

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