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Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Berlin straddles the banks of the River Spree, which flows into the River Havel (a tributary of the River Elbe) in the western borough of Spandau. It was first documented in the 13th century and is situated at the crossing of two important historic trade routes. After World War II and its subsequent occupation by the victorious countries, the city was divided; West Berlin became a de facto West German exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall (1961–1989) and East German territory. East Berlin was declared capital of East Germany, while Bonn became the West German capital. Following German reunification in 1990, Berlin once again became the capital of all of Germany. Berlin is a world city of culture, politics, media and science - spend at least 3 days in this vibrant capital (click on the links for more details & to book tickets):
Reichstag is the meeting place of the Bundestag (“Federal Assembly”), the lower house of Germany’s national legislature. One of Berlin’s most famous landmarks, it is situated at the northern end of the Ebertstrasse and near the south bank of the Spree River. Tiergarten Park is directly west of the building, and the Brandenburg Gate is to the south.
Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's most famous landmark. A symbol of Berlin and German division during the Cold War, it is now a national symbol of peace and unity. The Brandenburg Gate was erected between 1788 and 1791 according to designs by Carl Gotthard Langhans whose vision was inspired by the Propylaea in Athens' Acropolis.
Berlin's Holocaust Memorial, located in Mitte on a stretch of the former "death strip" where the Wall once stood near Brandenburg Gate, is Berlin's stunning monument to the Holocaust, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II. It includes an underground Information Centre located on the south-eastern side of the memorial grounds.
Gendarmenmarkt in the Mitte district is arguably Berlin's most beautiful square. It is the site of three impressive buildings: The German and the French Cathedral and Schinkel's Konzerthaus. The square dates back to 1700, part of King Friedrick I's plan for Friedrichstadt, an emerging new quarter of Berlin, where the recently expelled French Protestants or Huguenots had settled following the Edict of Potsdam in 1685 which granted them asylum in the Prussian capital. The name is in fact of French origin as "Gens d'arms", which was a Prussian regiment consisting of Huguenots soldiers.
The French (Reformed) Church of Friedrichstadt is located in Berlin at the Gendarmenmarkt, across the Konzerthaus and the German Cathedral. The earliest parts of the church date back to 1701, although it was subsequently expanded. After being heavily damaged during World War II, the church was rebuilt and continues to offer church services and concerts.
The Pergamon museum is a listed building on the Museum Island in the historic centre of Berlin and part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It was built from 1910 to 1930 by order of German Emperor William II. Parts of the building are closed for renovation until 2023.
Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) is Berlin's largest and most important Protestant church as well as the sepulchre of the Prussian Hohenzollern dynasty. This outstanding high-renaissance baroque monument has linked the Hohenzollerns to German Protestantism for centuries and undergone renewed phases of architectural renovation since the Middle Ages. First built in 1465 as a parish church on the Spree River it was only finally completed in 1905 under the last German Kaiser -Wilhelm II.
The St. Nikolai-Kirche is the oldest church in Berlin. The church is located in the eastern part of central Berlin, the borough of Mitte. The area around the church, bounded by Spandauer Straße, Rathausstraße, the River Spree and Mühlendamm, is known as the Nikolaiviertel 'Nicholas quarter', and is an area of restored mediaeval buildings (in some cases recent imitations). The church was built between 1220 and 1230, and is thus, along with the Church of Our Lady at Alexanderplatz the oldest church in Berlin.
The East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery in Berlin. It consists of a series of murals painted directly on a 1,316 m (4,318 ft) long remnant of the Berlin Wall, located near the centre of Berlin, on Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. The gallery has official status as a Denkmal, or heritage-protected landmark. According to the Künstlerinitiative East Side Gallery e.V., an association of the artists involved in the project, "The East Side Gallery is understood as a monument to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful negotiation of borders and conventions between societies and people", and has more than three million visitors per year. We advise that you experience it early in the morning before the crowds arrive.
The Jewish Museum Berlin was opened in 2001 and is the largest Jewish museum in Europe. It consists of three buildings, two of which are new additions specifically built for the museum by architect Daniel Libeskind. German-Jewish history is documented in the collections, the library and the archive, and is reflected in the museum's program of events.
Checkpoint Charlie (or "Checkpoint C") was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War (1947–1991). East German leader Walter Ulbricht agitated and maneuvered to get the Soviet Union's permission to construct the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stop emigration and defection westward through the Border system, preventing escape across the city sector border from East Berlin into West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of East and West. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
4. TRY SOME CURRYWURST
Currywurst is a fast food dish of German origin consisting of steamed, then fried pork sausage typically cut into bite-sized chunks and seasoned with curry ketchup, a sauce based on spiced ketchup or tomato paste, itself topped with curry powder, or a ready-made ketchup seasoned with curry and other spices. The dish is often served with French fries. The invention of currywurst is attributed to Herta Heuwer in Berlin in 1949, after she obtained ketchup (or possibly Worcestershire sauce) and curry powder from British soldiers in Germany. She mixed these ingredients with other spices and poured it over grilled pork sausage. Heuwer started selling the cheap but filling snack at a street stand in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, where it became popular with construction workers rebuilding the devastated city. She patented her sauce under the name "Chillup" in 1951. At its height the stand was selling 10,000 servings per week. She later opened a small restaurant which operated until 1974.
Alexanderplatz is a large public square and transport hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin. The square is named after the Russian Tsar Alexander I and is often referred to simply as Alex, which also denotes the larger neighbourhood stretching from Mollstraße in the north-east to Spandauer Straße and the Rotes Rathaus in the south-west. It is a popular starting point for tourists, with many attractions including the Fernsehturm (TV tower), the Nikolai Quarter and the Rotes Rathaus (Red city hall) situated nearby. Alexanderplatz is still one of Berlin's major commercial areas, housing various shopping malls, department stores and other large retail locations.
The Berliner Fernsehturm is a television tower in central Berlin, Germany. Situated in the Marien quarter (Marienviertel), close to Alexanderplatz in the locality and district of Mitte, the tower was constructed between 1965 and 1969 by the government of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). It was intended to be both a symbol of Communist power and of the city. It remains a landmark today, visible throughout the central and some suburban districts of Berlin. With its height of 368 metres (including antenna) it is the tallest structure in Germany, and the third-tallest structure in the European Union.
Bellevue Palace, located in Berlin's Tiergarten district, has been the official residence of the President of Germany since 1994. The schloss is situated on the banks of the Spree river, near the Berlin Victory Column, along the northern edge of the Großer Tiergarten park. Its name – the French for "beautiful view" – derives from its scenic prospect over the Spree's course.
The Victory Column was designed by Heinrich Strack after 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War. The Victory Column is a major tourist attraction and its viewing platform, for which a ticket is required, offers a view over Berlin.
The Tiergarten is Berlin’s most popular inner-city park and is located completely in the district of the same name. The park is 210 hectares (520 acres) in size and is among the largest urban gardens of Germany.
The term Potsdamer Platz is an imprecise one. Actually, it’s only the square next to Leipziger Platz, but Berliners have come to refer to the whole area as Potsdamer Platz.
The Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, with their many shops, are a popular place for shopping. You can take the fastest elevator in Europe up to the Panoramapunkt in the Kollhof Tower, where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the Berlin skyline.
The New Synagogue on Oranienburger Straße in Berlin is a mid-19th century synagogue built as the main place of worship for Berlin's Jewish community, succeeding the Old Synagogue which the community outgrew. Because of its eastern Moorish style and resemblance to the Alhambra, the New Synagogue is an important architectural monument in Germany.
WHEN TO GO: The best time to visit Berlin is May through September, when the weather is ideal for cafe sitting, park lazing and leisurely city strolling.
VISA: Berlin visitors need a passport. EU nationals do not need a visa, others may need one depending on length, frequency and purpose of their stays.
HOW TO GET AROUND: The best way to get around Berlin is via the U-Bahn underground trains or S-Bahn regional, elevated trains, which are both a part of the city's extensive BVG public transportation system.
SLEEP AT ORANIA.BERLIN
Experience the authentic beat of Berlin at the Oranienplatz in Kreuzberg. The ultimate in state-of-the-art comfort and design within an Art Nouveau landmark. An oasis of calm and serenity in a Retreat for global nomads.
Managing director and Chef Philipp Vogel has made his career as head chef of renowned restaurants in Shanghai, London, Vienna and Berlin. In 2014, he was awarded a Michelin star at the Edvard restaurant in Vienna. He is a master in the art of refining the elementary by applying different methods of preparation on just three components for each dish. The Orania.Bar is not only one of the most beautiful & lively bars of the city, but also the ideal overture for visiting the most exciting clubs of Kreuzberg & Friedrichshain.
PLAY AT ELEMENTS OF FOOD
Itay Novik, food designer and and owner leads small scaled culinary tours in Berlin and Brandenburg, talking about the fascinating culinary development of the region. Though the city today is also the home for some quite famous Michelin starred restaurants, he is much more intrigued by the street food scene and the immigrants' kitchens, creating this bubbling mixture called Berlin. All tours are private but they do offer also tours for bigger groups up to 50.
PLAY AT FAT TIRE TOURS BERLIN
The number of things to see and do in Berlin is astounding, and Fat Tire Tours have curated some exciting journeys to some of Berlin’s most prominent attractions.
PLAY AT FORK & WALK TOURS BERLIN
A small team of local Berliners who share a passion for food & Berlin. Private food tours, Neighbourhood foodie tour, Inside Berlin: East meets West, Gourmet food tour, Your evening food tour and Corporate, group & team building.
PLAY AT I LOVE BERLIN BIKE TOURS
I love Berlin Bike Tours not only does bicycle tours but also walking tours with public transport or a normal walking tour of Berlin. They have many professional guides to help keep the groups smaller and more personalised.
TRAIN TO PRAGUE (CLICK ON THE LINK FOR MORE DETAILS)
Prague awaits & your adventure continues. Comfortable air-conditioned EuroCity trains with restaurant car & free WiFi link Berlin and Prague every two hours, city centre to city centre in around 4h20 - with great scenery along the Elbe & Vlatava rivers. Train is the way to go - unlike planes or buses the journey is an experience in its own right.