Rich with history, art and beautiful architecture, Berlin should top anyone’s list of dream destinations. Here are the top 7 things you need to do on your trip to Berlin.
Of all the buildings in Berlin, the Parliamentary Building is probably one of the most symbolic. The mighty structure, erected in 1884-94 by Paul Wallot as the proud manifestation of the power of the German Reich, was destroyed by arson in 1933 and bombed during the Second World War. In 1996, the artist Christo wrapped up the Reichstag and, in 1994-9, the British architect Sir Norman Foster transformed it into one of the most modern parliamentary buildings in the world. Today it is the official seat of the Bundestag, the German parliament.
Unter den Linden
“As long as the lime trees still blossom in Unter den Linden, Berlin will always be Berlin,” Marlene Dietrich once sand about this magnificent avenue. Today the lime trees blossom more beautifully than ever in the historical centre of Berlin, because the old buildings along the street have been extensively restored and modern architecture has created new highlights. The “Linden” – originally a royal bridle-path linking the Stadtschloss (the king’s town residence) and Tiergarten – became Berlin’s most fashionable street in the 18th century, and was synonymous with the city that was then the capital of Prussia.
The heart of the new metropolis of Berlin beats on Potsdamer Platz. This square, where Berliners and tourists alike now flock to cinemas, restaurants and shops, was already a hub of urban life in the 1920s. After the Second World War, it became a desolate wasteland, but since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Potsdamer Platz – for a while Europe’s largest building site – has become a city within the city, surrounded by imposing edifices that began to appear in the 1990s and are still being added to today.
Formed by the tributaries of the Spree River, Museumsinsel is an island in central Berlin that is home to the world’s most diverse yet coherent museum complex. Built between 1830 and 1930, the museums, which hold the Prussian royal collections of art and archeology, were turned into a public foundation in 1918. Heavily damaged during the Second World War, all museums have since been reconstructed and in 1999 the complex was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Ongoing construction work will connect the individual museums. On the island’s north side is the hugely impressive Berliner Dom.
After years of decline, the Kurfurstendamm, or Ku’damm for short, has once again become a fashionable hot spot. Breathtaking architecture, elegant boutiques and a lively scene with street artists around Breitscheidplatz has made this shopping boulevard one of Berlin’s most attractive and longest avenues for strolling.
One of the most haunting symbols of Berlin, the ruins of the memorial church in the heart of the city’s West End, have been irreverently nicknamed “the hollow tooth”. The Neo-Romanesque church was given the name of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in 1895, to honour Wilhelm I. Following damage by severe bombing raids in 1943, the ruins of the tower were left standing as a memorial. Next to it, Egon Eiermann erected a new church in 1957-63. Religious services are now conducted here.
The construction of Schloss Charlottenburg, designed as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Elector Friedrich III, began in 1695. Between 1701 and 1713 Johann Friedrich Eosander added a cupola and the Orangerie was extended. Today, it has been extensively renovated.