Berlin Sights – The Main Attractions And Leading Sightseeing Places / Landmarks In Berlin

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Berlin Overview

Many people who visit Berlin do so with the primary objective of visiting the Berlin Wall which apart for many is seen as ‘the symbol’ of the cold war that fell upon Europe at the end of WW2. The division of Berlin was and is still seen by many in post-war western Europe as the point ( famously checkpoint charlie) where east met west. In reality the western sector was an enclave completely surrounded by Communist (Russian) controlled East Germany.

From an American and British perspective the division of the city was warranted as it served notice on Stalin and Moscow that any continued advance westward in Europe would be challenged. For many Berliners, irrespective of their political leanings, the stand-off had a more potent significance- it separated them fro their family and friends on the other side.

The history of the wall with a map detailing how it divided the city with information on the accompanying Death Strip Checkpoint Charlie is given on the Berlin Wall page.

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Berlin Attractions Sights Landmarks Sightseeing

Alexanderplatz 10178, Berlin – The Alexanderplatz is named after Alexander I , the Tsar of Russia who was honoured after his visit to Berlin back in 1805. It is a large  public square and transport hub and is often referred to by locals simply as ‘Alex’. The Square was originally used as a cattle market and became important in the late 19th century  with the construction of the Stadbahn Station.

The Alexanderplatz heyday was in the 1920’s when it became the heart of Berlin nightlife and inspired the 1929  novel ‘Berlin Alexanderplatz’. In 1989 the Peaceful revolution took place and Alexanderplatz demonstration was the biggest in the history of East Germany. Since the reunification of the Country, Alexanderplatz has undergone many changes but it still retains its Socialist charm. The Alexa shopping mall which has almost 200 stores opened to the public in 2007. The historic Rotes Rathaus[ Red City Hall] is located near the Alexanderplatz as was the East German Parliament building before it was demolished in 2006.

At the eastern end of Alexanderplatz stands the Fernsehturm Television Tower AlexanderPlatz, 10178, Berlin -The Fernsehturm[ TV Tower] is the largest building in Berlin  standing at a towering 368 Metres today. It was built buy the communists to keep an eye on those they ruled – and the allies in West Berlin boasts a restaurant and viewing platform. It was initially built to be 365 metres on purpose as Walter Ubricht who was leader of The SED felt that people would easily remember the number 365 as it’s the same as the number of days in a year. This impressive structure was erected between 1965 and 1969 by East German architects Fritz Dieter, Gunter Franke and Werner Ahrendt. Due to the division in Berlin, the TV Tower was necessary and it remains the only Television Tower in any European city.

It’s estimated that over 1 million people visit the Tower every year and The Lift reaches an altitude of 200 Metres in just 40 seconds. The entrance fee is circa €10 for adults and €5.50 for children (group rate €8 per person) or approximately double if you want VIP tickets to avoid the queue – if there is one. You cannot eat in the cafe / restaurant without paying the entrance fee first. The restaurant itself offers snacks coffee and good meals at moderate prices but the ‘high’ (forgive the pun) entrance fee is verging on the ridiculous

If you are looking to take in the wonder of Berlin and neighbouring Brandenburg from an eagle eyed view then the Fensehturm is ideal. The Tower’s giant sphere was turned in to a massive Silver football during the 2006 Football World Cup and was a great symbol for the Worldwide extravaganza. Entry for adults is 9.50 Euros with the reduced price for Children and senior Citizens of 4.50 Euros.

On the western side of  Alexanderplatz at the end of Unter den Linden stands The Brandenburg Gate, built between 1788 – 1791 which is adorned with the The Chariot of Quadriga ( added in 1794) which sits on top of it is probably Berlins most imposing landmark. The gate is the only remaining gate to the original Old City of Berlin.

Fairly close by is The Gendarmen Markt, (which many believe to be one of Europe’s most beautiful squares) built in 1688. It is home to The Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) which was originally built in 1701. It’s dome was added in 1780, destroyed in WW2 and restored in 1996. The Franzosischer Dom was ( French Cathedral) was built in 1701 with it’s dome added in 1780. This was also damaged in WW2 but it was restored in 1977.

An instructive exhibition is The Holocaust Memorial Centre adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate which opened in t2005. This memorial which consists of 2,701 upright grey slabs arranged in roofless corridors is intended to represent the bewilderment experienced by Jewish prisoners imprisoned in concentration camps. It includes an underground exhibition with six gigantic pictures of victims of The Holocaust.

The project has been a controversial issue in Germany because it has not recognised the non Jewish victims of the Nazis. There also was public outrage when it was revealed in 2003 that it’s construction involved – Degussa – a company who had also supplied the Zyklon B gas used in the gas chambers. Address Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe (just south of the Brandenburg Gate) Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin. Tel Tel: +49 (0) 30 – 26 39 43 36 website http://www.stiftung-denkmal.de/en Email: besucherservice@stiftung-denkmal.de

Judisches Museum Lindenstraf 9-14, Berlin -The Judisches museum is an architectural delight and a recognition of Jewish cultural identity and how the Jews were persecuted by the Nazi’s in World War Two. The Genius behind the Museum is Polish Jew Daniel Libeskind [Born1946] whose family  was wiped out by the Nazi’s in the War. The project was presented before the Berlin Senate in 1988 but it wasn’t until 2001 that the Judisches was given its Gala opening. Libeskind wanted to represent the history of the Jews in Germany. There is 2000 years of Jewish history on show here with exhibits detailing all the way back to the Jews lives in Roman times. The museum’s unique structure pays homage to Jewish culture with its Zinc-clad walls and  star shaped Zig Zag ground design.

You are advised to take a guided tour of the museum and during your journey you are likely to be fascinated by the  amazing Glass Courtyard known as the ”Sukkah” which was completed in September 2007. If you are planning to have lunch whilst at the Museum then you will be glad to know there is a  Cafe-Restaurants that offers fantastic Kosher food.  Entry is 5 Euros and the reduced price of 2.50 Euros. website  http://www.jmberlin.de/

See also the euromost Auschwitz & Birkenau page Museumsinsel 10178, Berlin The Museumsinsel translated as[ Museum Island] is a collection of five different museums. It includes the Pergamon Art Museum which was designed by Ludwig Hoffman and Alfred Messel. The Pergamon has an average of 1 million visitors a year and was awarded UNESCO World heritage status right at the end of the 20th Century. It was King Freidrich Wilhelm’s vision to have  the arts and sciences come together  which is based on the forum of Ancient Rome.

Berlin’s own Treasure Island is on the left side of The German Historical Museum and is of great historical significance, It was here in the Spree Island that the City of Berlin first originated as the Twin settlements of Berlin and Coln. The Neues Museum was established in 1855 to showcase Egyptian and Prehistoric collections. The Museum houses the notorious bust of Queen Nefertiti of Egypt. The Baroque Bode Museum was named after its First Director Wilhelm Von Bode and specialises in European Renaissance Art. Adult entry to Museum Island is 12 Euros with children and senior Citizens paying around 6 Euros.

Berlin Olympiastadion Olympische Alle 1053 Berlin -The Olympiastadion  (Olympic Stadium] was built for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. The stadium was built by the March brothers, Werner and Walter  under the supervision of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.  This Nazi-era stadium and the Bell Tower’s exhibition  carry with it the unforgettable memories of African-American athlete Jesse Owens who shook the oppressive and racist Nazi regime with his four gold medal wins in  sprinting.

The modern renovation of the Stadium took  four years between 2000 and 2004 and the Stadium now holds a capacity of 76,000 people. The Stadium played host to the World Cup Final on July 9th  2006 between France and eventual winners Italy. The German historical museum exhibition and Bell Tower are open for visitors from April 1st to November 2nd, 9 am -6 pm daily. Guided tours of the ground itself are available  where you can view the normally off limits VIP Lounges and the changing rooms of Berlin Bundesliga football team Hertha Berlin.  Entry is 4 Euros and 8 Euros for a Family Card. These  prices double if you want a guide. website http://www.olympiastadion-berlin.de/

Siegessaulle Tiergarten Groser Stern, 10785, Berlin The Siegessaule is a 67 metre high monument which stands for victory. It was initially erected to represent Prussian military triumph in the Franco-German war but now has a very different meaning as it represents  Berlin’s buzzing Gay community. Big Gay pride events such as Christopher Street Day and the Techno Love Parade now culminate here every year. The statue built by Phillip Drake was unveiled to the Berlin public in 1873  by the then Prussian Emperor. The 8.3 Metre statue on top of the column  symbolises Victoria, the Ancient goddess of victory as well as Borussia the Allegory, the Latin name for Prussia.

The Column is one of Berlin’s favourite sightseeing spots and is popular amongst people of all ages  as you can appreciate the glorious view from the top by using the spiral staircase. Luckily there is the BierGarten and and Cafe Victoria right next to the Seigessaule so  if you are in need of refreshment after the long walk to the top you can have a coffee or sandwich at one of these establishments.  Entry is cheap at 2.20 Euros and 1.50 at the reduced price.

Kaiser Wilhelm Church Breitscheidplatz. 10789 Berlin – The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was built between 1891 and 1895 by Franz Schwechten in a Neo-Romanesque style of architecture. The church was built in honour of Kaiser Wilhelm who was German’s first Emperor and he reigned from 1861-1888. The Church was the only building on the square to be saved from the bombs during the Second World War. Kaiser Wilhelm is an Anti-war memorial Church and the exhibits in their Gedenthall display exhibits of the Kaiser Wilhem before and indeed after the war.

The Church is still very popular to this day and many are keen to have their Weddings and Christenings take place here. The Church has 22 storeys and a nearby shopping is available courtesy of the Europa Centre. In recent years the City of Berlin has given Kaiser Wilhelm a whopping 1.5 million Euros to renovate the old building and with many visitors coming each year, the renovation seems to have been a success

Berliner Ensemble Bertolt-Brecht-Platz 1 10117, Berlin – The Berliner Ensemble is a famous Theatre company established in 1949 in East Berlin. The Theatre company was created by renowned playwright Bertolt Brecht and his wife Helene Wiegel. Composers Paul Dessau and Hanns Eisler were Brecht’s closest collaborators but when Brecht died of a heart attack and 1956 his wife Helene Wiegel took over as sole manager.

The performances by the Berliner Ensemble were to enjoy a great deal of recognition from critics and theatre goers across the German capital. Famous Screen writers and playwrights Matthias Langhof and Heiner Muller were to change the character of the Theatre  from state property to a privately owned building. The successful manager of the Burgtheater in Vienna, Claus Peyymann reopened and rebranded the theatre in the year 2000. The theatre has a tradition of producing thought provoking political theatre for the public and through its new boss, Claus Peymann it continues to uphold that tradition but on a broader and more modern scale. website http://www.berliner-ensemble.de/

Berlin Zoo Harlenbegplatz, 10787-  Berlin The Berlin Zoo was opened to the public in 1844 and is considered to be the oldest Zoo in Europe. An estimated 3 million people visited the Zoo in 2010 making it arguably Europe’s most popular zoo as well. There are 17,000 animals here with everything from the South American Coati to the Red kangaroo.  The zoo gained much notoriety with the Polar Bear ‘Knut’  who became a Worldwide celebrity but if you are visiting the Zoo to see Knut, he unfortunately died in March 2011. The Zoo’s most famous living and arguably cutest animal is Bao Bao the Panda who was born back in 1978. The zoo was destroyed in the second World War but thanks to a lot of hard work was restored and is now one of the World’s most Aesthetically pleasing  Zoo’s.

The Aquarium here opened back in 1913 and has a fantastic range of animals including the large Lizard, the Komodo Dragon. The zoo here is afford-ably priced unlike some in Europe particularly London Zoo. Combi Tickets for both establishments are available at €18 and €9. These tickets can be purchased online. Family tickets and concession can be purchased at the Zoo. You can arrive here by getting the train to Berlin Zoologischer Garten Railway Station which is one of the Capitals’ most important train stations. website http://www.zoo-berlin.de/zoo.html?L=1

Berlin Rote Rathausstr. 15 10178, Berlin -The Berlin Rote translates in English as ”The Red Town Hall”  and is the seat of the Berlin senate, one of the 16 states of the German Federal Republic. The Rathaus was developed between 1861 and 1869 by Herman Friedrich Waesemann and the city of Berlin has been ruled from this building ever since the Red City Hall was completed.

The building itself was designed in a North Italian High Renaissance style. The Rote Rathaus served acted as the administration building for the East Berlin government in the 1950’s. The Rathaus is a huge structure, it is 99 metres by 88 metres and some say it has a ”Fortress Like appearance”. It was in this very building that controversial Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit declared ”I’m gay and that’s ok”. The city has always had a left wing conscience about it and many of these values have been upheld in the Rote Rathaus down the years.

Potsdamer Platz 1, 10785 Berlin The Potsdamer Square is a hugely important public Square in the middle of Berlin and it is named after the city of Potsdam which is about 25 KM away. The first records of Postdamer Platz go way back to 1685 when the Tolerance Edict Of Potsdam was signed allowing a large number of refugees including Jews from Austria and Hugenots from France to settle here. The Railway service first came to the City in 1838 and it was the Postdamer Banhof Terminus that linked Berlin with the city of Potsdam to the Southwest. Potsdamer Platz greatest days were in the 1920’s and 1930’s during a time of tremendous economic growth and it was a centre of shopping and nightlife being compared to Times Square in London and Piccadilly Circus in London. The Square was decimated during the World War Two and was then left derelict during The Cold War. Today the Square is an integral part of the ”New Berlin”  in the 1990’s  and has a lively, vibrant atmosphere about it. The Berlin International Film Festival is held here every February as it seen as an ideal setting for such a major event. website http://potsdamerplatz.de/en/

The present home of the German Parliament (which dates back to the Holy Roman Empire) The Reichstag was designed in 1884 by German architect Frank Wallott. In 1916 the words “Dem Deutschen Volke” (To the German people”) were carved above the main entrance to the building, which irritated the German leader Kaiser Wilhelm II because of its ‘democratic’ inference. who had tried to block the adding of the inscription due to its democratic significance. After WW1 when the Kaiser abdicated it became the home of the Parliament of the Weimar Republic. In 1933 it was partially destroyed by a fire allegedly started by a Dutch communist Marinus van der Lube. There is some doubt as to whether Lube was responsible for the fire but he was subsequently found guilty of it and beheaded. The fire was used my the ruling National Socialists (the Nazis) as justification for suspending the Parliament and amending the country’s constitution so that state security officers could combat a percieved communist threat.

In 1945 the Dome ar the end of WW2 was blown up As a result of this, and the division of Berlin and Germany the in 1949 the West German Parliament moved to Bonn and The East German Parliament was transferred to a paritcularly ugly Soviet inspired bronze construction 1km away. In the 1960s the East German Government partly rebuilt the ReichStag but it was not used for any parlimentary purposes. In 1994 the architect Norman Foster completed the reconstruction of the building. His work included the addition of an extension with a Glass Dome. This Dome is now one of Berlins most noticeable landmarks. It is has (not surpisingly) not found favour with many Berliners and from a tourist perspective it does not compliment the Reichstag and other nearby buildings. In 1999 the German Parliament – The Bundestag was reinstated in the Reichstag. Visitors which to visit this buidong which includes a good restaurant in the glass need to register in advance. More info on the Bundestag website http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/index.html

Well worth a visit is the City Museum (Stadtmuseum Berlin) The Museum which dates back to 1874 has at least 50 rooms covering most aspects of Berlin’s history some a little bizarre!. It has reconstructed original parts of the Berlin Wall (complete with paintings and graffiti) and embedded them into the building. The website for the museum is a little complicated to follow unless you are fluent in German so here are its details: Stadtmuseum Berlin, Am Köllnischen Park 5, 10179 Berlin-Mitte +49 (0)30 24002-159. Last time we checked its opening hours were: Tuesday Thursday & Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission: €4.00 or for visitors entitled to a reductio) €2.00; On Wednesdays when it is open from 12 noon to 8 p.m admissionto the museum is  reportedl to be  free. website   http://www.stadtmuseum.de/index2.htm

Comparatively new to Berlin is Madame Tussauds whichs has eight subject zones.The history zone is fairly impressive and of course features the famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech by President John F. Kennedy. Other waxworks include German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Pope Benedict XVI, Boris Becker Beethoven Erich Honecker and the Dalai Lama. There was / is a waxwork of Adolf Hitler but this exhibit may not be available it has been attacked in the past (the head was decapitated) as its prescence has been widely opposed. The admission which is approximately €19 for adults and €13 for children is a little on the high side as you would be hard pressed to spend two hours there. website http://www.madametussauds.com/Berlin/PlanenSieIhrenBesuch/English/Default.aspx

Berlin oldest park is The Tiergarten spans the area between the zoo and the Brandenburg Gate. The park which is heavily populated with tree is the home to several official bodies – most famously the Bundestag and the German Chancellery. It also is includes the official home of the German President. From 1919 until it s closure by the Nazis in 1933 it also hosted the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft which was a private clinic for studying the Science of Sexuality. Its Director Magus Hirschfeld was a advocate of gay rights. Tiergarten darkest moments were the at the former house at Tiergartenstraße no 4 which was were the Nazi programme Action T4 systematically killed disabled people. Today a memorial to those killed can be found stands at the spot in the bus terminus station adjacent to the Berliner Philharmonic.

There are numerous other museums and exhibitions in Berlin (details of which can be found through German National Tourist Board & The Official Berlin Tourist Office links on the Berlin Home page. However the most interesting for many will be the Berlin Wall Document Centre see the Berlin Wall page.

On the outskirts of Berlin Muggelsee in the east and Wannsee in the west there are two lakes. In the summer they are popular venues with locals for sunbathing and in the depths of winter they serve as ice rinks. Treptower Park in the east of Berlin alongside the Spree River and has a Soviet War memorial to the soldiers of Red Army’s killed in WW2.

On the outskirts of former West Berlin is the City of Potsdam which is seemingly surrounded by a series of lakes lakes linked to one another. On the edge of these lakes (which you can take a cruise down) are numerous estates with palaces and stately homes once frequented by Prussian Kings. One of these – estate of the parks and palaces of The Prussian King Sanssouci were built in the mid-eighteenth century 1745 is a first class example of the Rococo style of architecture an it is by far the biggest World Heritage site in Germany. The older part of the city of the city centre is really pretty and there are numerous cafes snd restaurants to chill out in day or night – and in the middle of all this you can find some good second hand shops. The city boasts two universities and more research institutes than anywhere else in Germany. If you are in Berlin and have a few hours to spare Potsdam is well worth visiting. More details on the  website  http://www.potsdam.de/cms/ziel/26670/EN/

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Shopping in Berlin

Berlin has with three major shoppimg centres – Ku’damm Friedrichstraße and Potsdamer Platz. The Kurfürstendamm, is an attractive boulevard 3.5 km long from the Memorial church to Halense. Shops include the famous department store Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) over the Europa-Center and many international fashion boutiques, restaurants and cafés.

During the mild summer nights, this part of Berlin ) stays open 24 hours. Closing times are practically unknown and visitors to the “Athens on the Spree” can experience the delights of its cosmopolitan character.There are over 6,000 restaurants catering from most tastes. All three shopping centres are directly connected by the underground line U2.

Kadewe Department Store Tauentzeinstr 21-24 10789, Berlin – The Kadewe is Berlin’s most renowned Department store situated on the Wittenburg Platz and is a staggering 60,000,000 Square Metres. It has been described as a haven  for shopaholics and  is the largest department store in the whole of Europe. The Store opened to the public in 1907 and has survived all the ups and downs  that the German Capital has endured in the past century. From the Depression to World War II and then the German reunification in 1989, the Kadewe has seen it all and remained surprisingly unaffected. The Store’s 100th anniversary in 2007 was quite an occasion and amongst the guests was the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit. There are gastronomic delights on offer here such as luxury chocolates  and Oysters as well as a Fashion Boulevard with a great selection of lingerie and men and Women’s designer clothing. website http://www.kadewe.de/

 

 

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