Germany’s capital invites you to its vibrant 700 years of heritage culture, despite its gloomy past forged by World War II and the infamous Berlin Wall. If, like me, you wish to step outside your German class at school for a real taste of Germany’s Haupstadt, follow the guide below for the best sights of Berlin.
The first thing that comes to mind when one mentions the German capital is the Brandenburg Gate. It is not surprising as even Napoleon couldn’t resist it and took the Quadriga (a statue towering above the columns) with him to Paris. However, after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814, the chariot statue with its goddess of victory was returned to Germany where it towers over visitors to this day.
It isn’t just the German Parliament; the Reichstag is in fact a major historical building. In May 1945, the Reichstag was the main target of the Soviet army which invaded Berlin. The walls still bear bullet traces and memorable inscriptions of Russian soldiers. The most popular part when visiting the dome is the roof terrace where you can lunch while admiring the impressive views of Berlin.
The cathedral is a majestic building with a luxurious interior decoration. It is the largest protestant church in Germany with a carved, gilded altar inside and colorful stained-glass windows. The church is also home to the sarcophagi of the members of the Hohenzollern dynasty (once a ruling family in Germany) and to The Organ in the dome, recognised as the largest in the country with its 7.269 pipes and 113 registers on 4 manuals.
The museum island consists of five museums, namely Pergamonmuseum, Bode-Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museum. They all display ancient and valuable art works from Europe and the Middle East, such as the legendary bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, the jaw-dropping Pergamon Altar and the stunning Ishtar Gate.
Unter den Linden
The most famous boulevard of Berlin begins at the Bradenburg Gate. Unter den Linden translates to “under the lindens” and is the first avenue of Berlin dating back from the 17th century. Today the avenue is one the most beautiful spots of the city.
Berlin TV Tower
Choose to visit Germany’s tallest building on a sunny day to view Berlin from its observation deck and commemorate the event with a photo titled “Berlin at my feet”.
Are you eager to meet big cats, bears and pandas? Visit the Berlin Zoo and the Berlin Aquarium, which offer visitors a glimpse of the world’s biodiversity right in the middle of the city.
Berlin also makes us remember and reflect upon the largest tragedies of war. Anyone visiting the Holocaust Memorial walks in a harrowing space that does not sugarcoat the horrors of the event.
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace of Berlin. Built 300 years ago, its garden is an ideal place to wander during the summer. The palace’s stateroom and ballroom are quintessentially rococo in style, while silver, gold, glass and porcelain tableware are also on full display. The Porcelain Cabinet is a special room of the palace which displays a collection of the finest porcelain, all blue and white.
Pop into the Konzert Haus to find Berlin’s world-renowned art and culture. From ballet, opera to classical German music and theatre, there is something for everyone to revel in. There are also guided tours available to visit the famous concert hall.
Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church
Erected over a hundred years ago, the Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church was heavily bombarded during the second world war. As such the church is a symbol and memory of war tragedies.
Visit one of the laid back and hipster neighborhoods of Berlin. Kreuzberg isn’t a crowded tourist spot and is in fact also a cultural center. Dally along the many small and unique shops, restaurants and bars, and admire the street graffiti.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a massive stretch of the Berlin wall and features a plethora of paintings from international artists. The 1.3km section of artworks stands as an international memorial for freedom.
The Mauer museum and Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie has historical significance as it was set up in 1961 when the Berlin Wall was built to prevent Germans from the eastern side of Germany to flee to the democratic West. The Mauer Museumcomes with fake border guards outside and exhibitions relating to tales of escapees. You can even buy a piece of the Berlin wall as a souvenir.
It is one of the most iconic spots in Berlin famous for lively shopping areas, ritzy hotels and architecture. Visit the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden for a huge range of shops offering everything a shopaholic yearns for. Cafes, bistros and restaurants are open to recharge your batteries.
Have you been to Berlin or are you planning to visit the city? Don’t forget to grab a city pass to take full advantage of Berlin’s public transport system when moving around the sights. Comment below if you know other interesting spots of Germany’s capital city.