Berlin Travel Guide
Berlin is singularly the most happening place in continental Europe, at once edgy, cultured, hip, anarchical, hedonistic, gritty and irreverent. It has been at the center of much that has occurred over the past century, and remains today at the forefront of global shifts and evolving lifestyles. In fact, from the cabarets and heady nightlife of the 1920s, to the madness of Hitler's Third Reich and the eyeball-to-eyeball face-offs of the Cold War, to the all-night parties of the New Millennium, there has hardly been a dull moment in the life of Berlin. It is a city with the verve of a party animal, with ritzy nightclubs and pulsating discothèques and techno bars, and, too, a city of culture and refinement, with venerable old universities, world-class philharmonics, and superb museums and galleries heaped with relics of the ages and monumental collections of art. Berlin also, one might add, is a city where Eastern and Western Europe and the past, present and future have collided and fused, a city that lives in the moment. Berlin, ultimately, as Germans would say, is "Die Stadt der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten!" – "The city of unlimited possibilities!"
Berlin, a city-state and the capital and largest city of Germany, is situated on the river Spree in the northeastern part of the country.
Berlin can be reached directly by air, rail or road from most European capitals and major cities. When arriving from overseas, routing through Frankfurt, which is just to the southeast, is a good idea.
Berlin's principal draws – since one must be selective in a city so richly endowed with visitor lures – are the historic Brandenburg Gate, relics from the Cold War such as Checkpoint Charlie and remnants of the Berlin Wall, Gemäldegalerie (Paintings Gallery), Museuminsel (Museum Island) where you can search out the Pergamon as well as other world-class museums, the fabulous, Baroque Schloss Charlottenburg, and the Jewish Museum which has exhibits depicting two millennia of German-Jewish history. The majestic, glass-dome-topped Reichstag, seat of the Bundestag (German Parliament), is worth seeing too. Berlin is also noted for its festivals and international events, chief among them the Berlinale, the largest public film festival in the world, and the Love Parade, the world's largest technotronic music festival, which rocked the city until its demise in 2006.
Berlin's Mitte district is where you'll find a majority of the city's nightclubs and bars, most visited among them the techno music clubs Berghain and Tresor, and the monstrously popular and sexually uninhibited KitKatClub on Brückenstraße that draws a clientele from all across Europe. Other clubs with growing notoriety include the Weekend Club and KingKongKlub, also in the Mitte district. The Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg neighborhoods, east and northeast of the Mitte respectively, offer great all-night party venues as well, with several hip, up-and-coming clubs and bars located there.
Berlin is the largest city by area in continental Europe – more than eight times the size of Paris – and the second largest in the European Union, after London. It also has a claim to food fame: It is the home of the ubiquitous currywurst, a grilled pork sausage dripping with curry-powder-spiked sauce that is blended from tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, originally created in Berlin in 1949 by Herta Heuwer and now available at food stands, cafés and restaurants throughout the city. As a rite of passage, every Berlin mayor has been photographed at a currywurst stand since the invention of the snack.
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