For decades, all eyes were on Berlin; a city divided by a wall that many feared would never come down. Now in its young adult years post Cold War times, Berlin is a city in motion; a youthful city with many dynamics. Only a multifaceted city that has come back from such a turbulent past could keep tourists busy with so many fascinating sites.
Though most of the city was damaged in the final years of World War II, it’s a site to see the historical past blend with an ultra modern future for a city with a vibrant pulsating heart and even more of a riveting potential as a tourist city. In other words, now is the perfect time to visit Berlin.
Reichstag (Parliament of the German Empire): Dating back to the Holy Roman Empire, used during the Nazi regime and even in use today, the Reichstag is a building that has literally been through transformations. The building was built “To the German people”; a saying etched into the very foundation of the building. It was a historical edifice, held meetings during Nazi Germany, housed the German Democratic Republic and today is the meeting place of the modern German parliament, the Bundestag. It is also the most visited attraction in Berlin; especially with the large glass dome at the top with a 360-degree view of the Berlin cityscape.
Holocaust Memorial: In 2005, 60 years after the end of World War II, this Holocaust Memorial opened to the public. It is a site where over 2,000 slabs of concrete in a grid pattern are set up in a maze; to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. It is a controversial, yet artistic memorial site that represents wounds that are still healing in a torn city.
Brandenburg Gate: Known as the main symbol of Berlin and Germany, The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate located west of the city centre. It was a monumental entry point; the only one that remains of many that led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. It was built as a symbol of peace.
Ku’Damm (Shopping Street): Berlin is quickly becoming an important fashion capital in the world. It is a famous avenue; considered the Champs-Elysees of Berlin filled with shops, restaurants and fashion designer boutiques. It even has a huge historical context as a location where many German student movements were held during Cold War times.
German Historical Museum: When a city has seen so many changes, especially in such recent times, the best place to go is a museum that can tell its entire story. Developed in 1987 before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German Historical Museum celebrated the 750th anniversary of the founding of Berlin. The museum tells not only the story of German’s history, but the common history between the country and Europe itself.
Berliner Cathedral: If you find yourself standing in front of the Berlin Cathedral, you might forget to actually go inside. The Evangelical Church located in the capital city is situated on Museum Island where many tourists are impressed with the beautiful infrastructure. Make sure to climb to the top for a panoramic view over the Berlin centre.
Berliner Fernsehturm: Every large city has a tall observation deck with views that will make anyone scared of heights. The TV tower is Germany’s tallest construction at 368 meters high. Tourists can enjoy a nice view on a clear day and even a bar and restaurant in the observation deck.
Checkpoint Charlie: Formerly an important crossing point between East and West Berlin, Check Point Charlie to this date is luckily just a tourist attraction. It was the crossing point for foreigners to pass, but not local residents of East and West Berlin. One can find at the intersection of Zimmerstraße and Friedrichstraße the location of the old sign that stated “You Are Leaving the American Sector”, which is now hosted at the Allied Museum.
Humboldt Universität: There are many cities with beautiful Universities; think of Georgetown University in Washington D.C. which is a tourist attraction in itself. Humboldt Universität is not only the oldest university in Berlin, but has an impressive record of alumni, including Albert Einstein, Karl Marx and Fredrich Engels. During the Cold War, it was the main University in East Berlin, but to this day remains an effort to bring back its former glory.
Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer): Probably one of the must see attractions in Germany itself, not only as a popular attraction, but anyone who wants to go back in time and view a piece of the city, and the world’s history. The piece of the Berlin wall remaining is a haunting feeling; a reminder of those who died crossing. Inscriptions on the wall show declarations of war messages. The Berlin Wall’s existence and falling is probably one of the most pivotal points in the 20th century and worth a visit if you happen to visit Berlin.