Berlin, what a wonderful gem

It’s clear that Berlin is no mystery to travelers. It’s a must see place and the number of tourists the city has every year proves it. The amount of history in this city is overwhelming. I knew we were going to visit a few sights and get a feel of the place, but I didn’t expect to be so pleasantly surprised.

You are welcomed by very wide and refreshing avenues and boulevards, large green parks and spaces (mostly in the summer) and a piece of historic value everywhere you step. We were also blessed to have friends in Berlin to take us around, so we got to experience more than the average tourist. I think the most shocking part was the amount of communistic blocks on the N-E side of the city. I genuinely felt as if I was in Romania. Apparently these are now the up and coming neighborhood with costly apartments.

We went there for a week-end and I think it was enough to see the essentials. But of course, you could explore for a week. So, here is what we’ve indulged in:

  • The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate. It’s one of the most well-known monuments in Germany. If you’ve seen pictures of it before, when you get in front of it, you won’t be disappointed, it’s quite impressive. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the gate has become the symbol of a reunified Berlin. I also recommend that you go to the DZ Bank, that is right next to the American embassy at the Brandenburg Gate. Inside there is an amazing piece of art, made by the cool Canadian architect, Gehry. You won’t regret it. We couldn’t get in, as it was Easter day, so the bank was closed.

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  • The Berlin Wall, which doesn’t require any other introduction was the first thing on my list that I had to see. The long wall that once separated the East from the West is now a 1 km strip, the East side gallery. Nevertheless, you can notice on the ground a line across the city that reminds you where it used to be. Most of the remaining wall has art painted on it and you can walk along it, grasp the atmosphere. 

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  • The Reichstag (the seat of the German Parliament)

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  • The Reichstag Dome, a famous addition to the Reichstag by architect Norman Foster. It’s a genius work of architecture that is meant to redirect the sunlight directly into the meeting room that holds the Parliament. It also has a whole on top through which the “used” air from the plenary gets out. On top of that it’s a great way to see Berlin from up high and get an explanation of most important buildings.

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  • The Holocaust Memorial – for the Jewish victims. It was designed by P. Eisenman and B. Happold. It consists of 2,711 concrete blocks set up in a grid pattern on an inclined strip. According to its architect, these blocks suppose to produce an uncomfortable feeling and confusion. I got in the middle of them and at some point their height goes over yours. It’s a bit scary, especially in the evening. Our friends told us that they are hollow inside.

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  • Checkpoint Charlie used to be the Wall’s crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.

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  • The Victory Column was built to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Prusso-Danish war of 1864. You can see it in the distance from the Brandenburg Gate.
  • The Alexander Plaz –  It used to be one of the busiest squares in Berlin. Now it looks like any other square in Eastern Europe. It’s here where you can see Berlin’s TV tower.
  • The Museum Island – comprises 5 museums located between the Spree River and the Kupfergraben. These are: Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Altes Museum. There’s also the Berlin’s Cathedral and it’s quite an impressive one. 

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I loved the city for the amount of history, laid back atmosphere, we found it affordable and really cool. Plus, we have great friends there.

Make sure you visit and enjoy this gem!

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