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Sightseeing in Berlin - Top Attractions in Berlin - Indian Chief Travel
GERMANY  |  Berlin, Germany Travel Guide
Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Sightseeing in Berlin

The Reichstag in Berlin, Germany (cc)
 

Sightseeing in Berlin

Mitte District

  • Brandenburg Gate

    The Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate), Pariser Platz, is the symbol of Berlin. Built between 1788 and 1791, it was damaged, but not destroyed, during World War II. It has since been restored various times – the last restoration, to repair the damage done by the previous three restorations, was completed in 2002. It is the only remaining gate of the original 14 that provided access to the city

  • Holocaust Memorial

    After years of quibbling over the site and design of the Holocaust Memorial, corner of Behren and Ebertstraße, building has finally begun on a site south of the Brandenburg Gate. The memorial will consist of huge concrete slabs – some as high as five meters/15 feet – placed in close proximity to each other so walking solo will be the only way through.

  • Unter den Linden

    In 1647, the Great Elector planted six rows of lime trees along the road connecting his city palace and the Tiergarten. The road, just over a kilometer (.6 mile), soon became known as Unter den Linden (Under the Lime Trees). It has been the heart of the town ever since. The Nazis once cut the trees down, planning to replace them with Nazi banners, but protests were so livid even the masters of the Third Reich had to yield and replaced the trees. Unter den Linden stretches from the Brandenburg Gate to the Museum Island. Several cafés and restaurants of all price ranges line the street, together with embassies, fashionable shops, souvenir stalls, and luxury car showrooms.

  • Berlin Wall

    After the war, the West Berlin border was 155-km (93 miles) long, of which 106 km (64 miles) was occupied by the infamous Berlin Wall. Construction of this steel re-enforced concrete wall started on August 18, 1961, and it was maintained until November 9, 1989. During this period, 5,075 persons succeeded in escaping over or underneath the wall, while 176 died during escape attempts. The wall’s height ranged from 3.5 m to 4.2 m (11 to 13 feet) and had 302 guard towers. One of the enduring images of the Cold War is the Brandenburg Gate, isolated in no-man’s land behind the impregnable Berlin Wall. Nowadays, only four sections of the wall remain, none near the Brandenburg Gate. The longest piece is the 1.3 km (.8 mile) stretch, now called the East Side Gallery, in Mühlenstraße near the Ostbahnhof. It was painted by famous artists after the Wende. (The Wende, or change, is the name for the major political shift that East Germany made when it joined democratic, capitalist West Germany.) More accessible is the stretch at the Topographie des Terors near Checkpoint Charlie, and a very small piece at Stresemannstraße near Potsdamer Platz. Probably the most interesting part is in Bernauerstraße, near Nordbahnhof. Here parts of the defenses behind the wall are also preserved. The Berlin Wall Documentation Center, Bernauerstraße 111, has interesting multimedia displays on the history of the wall.

  • Hotel Adlon

    Hotel Adlon faces the Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz. It originally opened in the presence of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1907 as the first grand hotel of international standard in Berlin and soon became the residence of choice for visiting royalty, politicians, entertainers, and other wealthy visitors. Marlene Dietrich was discovered here. Greta Garbo desired to be left alone here. Einstein was a guest. Hitler and the Nazis generally shunned it and, as a result, it became known as Little Switzerland during the Nazi era. It miraculously survived the bombings of World War II, but burned down shortly afterwards under still unsatisfactorily explained circumstances. Shortly after the fall of the Wall, the Kempinski Group acquired the site and successfully erected a copy of the original. It opened in 1996 and again became the best temporary address in town. Staff are known and expected to be snooty and camera-toting sightseers are generally not welcomed. The new French and British Embassies are nearby. The new American one, supposed to be constructed in between the Adlon and the Brandenburg Gate, is still in a planning phase while its exact location is being pondered. However, the most interesting embassy building on Unter den Linden is the Russian Embassy at Number 63-65. It is in a Neo-Classical monumental Stalinist style and was one of the first major buildings erected in East Berlin after the end of the World War II. Nowadays the red-white-blue Russian standard is flown, but the hammer and sickle can still be seen on some detailing.

  • Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin

    The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin at Unter den Linden 13-15, 10117 Berlin-Mitte, houses alternating exhibitions from classical Modernism to current art. It has no permanent collections and is closed between exhibitions.

  • Humboldt University

    Berlin has three major universities, four academies of arts, and 10 universities of applied sciences, but the most famous and oldest is Humboldt University, Unter den Linden 7. More than 20 Nobel Prize winners studied here. Famous students included Marx, Engels, Lenin, and the Grimm brothers. Einstein taught here. The original buildings were erected during the reign of Fredrick the Great. His equestrian statue in front of the main building was banished to Sanssouci Park in Potsdam by the Communist regime, but returned after the Wende. Bebelsplatz was one of the sites where the Nazis burned books by undesirable authors. To commemorate the event a small window in the floor in the center of the square looks down on a room with empty bookshelves. Nearby, signs quote the famous words by German poet Heinrich Heine, whose works were also banned due to his Jewish heritage, that where books are burned soon people will also burn.

  • St Hedwigs Katedrale

    St Hedwigs Katedrale (St Hedwig’s Cathedral), Bebelsplatz, was built 1747 and 1773 as a Roman Catholic church following Frederick the Great’s annexation of Catholic Silesia. It was the only church constructed by him – he was very much in favor of freedom of religion as well as the freedom of paying for your own house of prayer. It is built in a style resembling the Pantheon in Rome. Opening hours are weekdays from 10 am to 5 pm and Sundays from 1 to 5 pm. The Staatsoper, Unter den Linden 7, was constructed in 1742 and is considered by many the most beautiful building that Frederick the Great erected in Berlin. Early in World War II it burned down after an air raid, but was rebuilt in a rush to restore morale and the new Oper was ready for bicentennial celebrations. It was bombed again in 1945 but rebuilt. Of the three opera houses in Berlin, this one is the oldest and most popular.

  • Classical Neue Wache

    Across the road is the Classical Neue Wache, Unter den Linden 4. It changed designations several times but is currently the official German memorial for the victims of war and tyranny worldwide. It has a copy of a famous sculpture by Käthe Kollwitz of a mother mourning over her dead child. The 1695 Zeughaus (Armory) is the oldest building on Unter den Linden. It houses the German Historical Museum.

  • Tiergarten

    Tiergarten is a 714-acre park in the heart of Berlin. In the 17th century, it was the hunting ground of the Elector, but during the 19th century, it was converted to its present English landscape-style park. It is a popular venue for outdoor activities of all kinds.

  • Bauhaus Archive-Berlin

    Just south of the park is the Bauhaus Archive-Berlin. The Berlin archives cover all stages of the Bauhaus School of Design from 1919 until its forced demise in 1933. Collections from the estates of Walter Gropius, Georg Muche, and Herbert Bayer are housed here.

  • Straße des 17 Juni

    A wide boulevard cuts through the park, ending at the Brandenburg Gate. It is called Straße des 17 Juni – Street of 17 June – to commemorate the 1953 uprising of East German workers against the Communist regime. The uprising received no backing from the Western powers and was brutally put down by the Soviet forces. In the center of a large roundabout is the almost 70-m (224-foot) Siegessäule (Victory Column) at Großer Stern, with a gold-plated statue of Victory, completed in 1873 shortly after the unification of Germany. It originally stood in front of the Reichstag, but the Nazis had it moved to the middle of the Tiergarten in anticipation of victory parades to come. Schloss Bellevue in Spreeweg was built in the 18th century by the younger brother of Frederick the Great. It is the official residence of the president of Germany and not open to the public. The gardens may be visited when the president is not in residence.

  • Glockenspiel

    Nearby, in John Foster Dulles Allée, is a Glockenspiel (Carillon) with 68 bells, one of the largest in Europe. It plays daily at noon and 6 pm.

  • Chancellery

    The Bundeskanzleramt (Chancellery) is an enormous, modern square building on the banks and even crossing the River Spree. It was designed during the governing period of Helmut Kohl but was first occupied by his successor, Gerhardt Schröder. It is a bit of an embarrassment of riches but a very impressive sight, in stark contrast to the low-key federal structures previously used in Bonn.

  • Reichstag

    Built between 1884 and 1894 to house the Imperial parliament, the Reichstag, Platz der Republik, burned down in 1933. Hitler blamed the Communists and used the opportunity to ban them, as well as several other groups, from parliament, thereby obtaining a majority and seizing power. Since 1998, the restored building, with a new larger glass dome designed by Sir Norman S Forster, housed the Deutscher Bundestag (German Federal Parliament). Two spiral walkways lead to the top of the glass dome, offering wonderful views of Berlin. A mirrored glass cone makes it possible to look into the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament. The hugely popular dome is open daily from 8 am to midnight. Mornings before 9 am and afternoons around 5 pm are generally less crowded. Admission is free, but expect airport-style security. Although currently still a must-see in Berlin, if time is limited and the lines long, you might rather spend your time elsewhere.

  • Museuminsel

    Museuminsel, or Museum Island, was the center of Berlin during the Hohenzollern era. It housed not only their principal residence and church, but also, from the mid-19th century onwards, five large Neo-Classical museum buildings.

  • Berliner Dom

    The Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral), on Am Lustgarten, was constructed between 1894 and 1905 in a Neo-Renaissance style and is the largest 19th-century Protestant building in Germany. The vault, hardly worth seeing, contains the sarcophagi and gravestones of 100 Hohenzollerns. Short organ concerts are offered on some afternoons.

  • Stadtschloss

    Across the road from the Dom was the location of the Stadtschloss (Town Palace), the principal residence of the Hohenzollern family since the 15th century. The palace survived theWorldWar II with remarkably little damage, but was demolished by the East German regime in 1950. Plans are currently afoot to rebuild the palace.

  • Palast der Republik

    Across the Spree River is the gleaming copper Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic). This amazing building housed the East German parliament from 1975 onwards. It was a true people’s palace with cultural forums and even a fitness center. Shortly after the Wende the building was closed to clean up asbestos used during construction. It has since been finally decided to destroy the building in 2005.

  • Nikolaiviertel

    The origins of Berlin are in the Nikolaiviertel (Nicholas Quarters). Many of the buildings here were already restored during the Communist era. The Nikolaikirche (Nicholas Church), at Poststraße 13, dates back to 1220, although it was altered to Late Gothic style in the 15th century. This is the oldest church in Berlin. Nearby is the red-brick Berlin Rathaus (Town Hall).

  • Fernsehturm

    Berlin’s highest construction is the 368-m (1,178-foot) Fernsehturm (Television Tower), Panoramastraße 1A. It was built using Swedish technology and opened in 1969. The rotating restaurant Telecafé at 207m(662 feet) offers the best aerial views of Berlin with a complete turn every half-hour. It also lets you time-travel to East Germany of the ’70s. The observation platform is open from March to October daily.

  • Alexanderplatz

    With the pre-war hotspots of Unter den Linden and Friedrichstraße being too close to the Wall for comfort, the government of the German Democratic Republic planned Alexanderplatz as the life and soul of East Berlin. Today this huge square and the large socialist-style buildings in the immediate vicinity are often devoid of human life and a depressing sight. A few blocks away are examples of the huge, low-rise apartment blocks known as Plattenbau, which were favored by the Communist-era central planners.

  • Friedrichstraße: Gendarmenmarkt

    Gendarmenmarkt on Friedrichstraße is one of Berlin’s most beautiful public squares. It has two similar-looking cathedrals dating from the early 18th century, as well as the 1818 Konzerthaus (Concert Hall), home of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. A statue of Friedrich Schiller stands in front of the hall.

  • Deutscher Dom

    The Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral), Gendarmenmarkt 1, was destroyed during World War II but rebuilt in the 1990s. The outside followed the original design, but the inside is thoroughly modern and used as an exhibition space by the German Parliament. The current exhibition explains the development of parliamentary democracy in Germany.

  • Französischer Dom

    The French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) was built for the Huguenots who had fled France and were welcomed in Prussia in the late 17th century. The tower houses a Huguenot museum and a lookout platform. The cathedral and lookout are open daily. The presence of the Huguenots also gave rise to the lovely Quartier area between the square and Friedrichstraße. These three blocks house upmarket stores, including a Galleries Lafayette, and are well worth seeing even if you’re not on a shopping spree.

  • Checkpoint Charlie

    Checkpoint Charlie gained notoriety as one of the places where the Cold War was at its hottest. Although not the only crossing point, it was the best-known. The famous scene of a Russian tank speeding up and breaking sharply to stop barely inches from the borderline occurred here. Today the guard house of the West is still in place but as a monument and background prop for tourist pictures. The large signboard, “You are leaving the American Sector,” is a copy – the original is in the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie.

  • Jüdisches Museum

    A good 15 minutes walk from here, but absolutely worth it, is the Berlin Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum).

  • Potsdamer Platz

    Potsdamer Platz was the densest traffic point in pre-war Berlin. It had the first traffic light in Germany – a copy can be seen. It was heavily bombed during the war, afterwards was in no-man’s land for four decades, and only again developed in the 1990s. It is very modern and has the tallest buildings in Berlin. Some consider it to be without a heart and soul, but it is popular, especially with the younger crowd.

[ Page of interest: Famous Museums of Germany ]

  • Sony Center and the Berlin Film Museum

    The Sony Center is the most impressive building, housing not only Sony’s European headquarters but also several restaurants and the impressive Berlin Film Museum. The magnificent roof has been described as tent- and sail-like, but actually represents Mt Fuji.

  • Kulturforum, Gemäldegalerie, Philharmonie

    Nearby is the Kulturforum (Cultural Forum) with several museums and concert halls. The most worthwhile are the superb Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) and the 1960s Philharmonie, home of Germany’s most famous symphony orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonie.

  • Topographie des Terrors

    It is possible to follow the line of the former Berlin Wall from Potsdamer Platz toward Checkpoint Charlie. En route is an interesting open-air exhibition, Topographie des Terrors (Topography of Terror), Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin (Kreuzberg). It documents the history of the Nazis’ Secret Police, the SS, and other security instruments of the Third Reich. The exhibition is at the recently rediscovered foundations of the notorious Prince Albrecht headquarters of the terror organizations. The exhibition is mainly photos and a permanent museum will eventually be built. Behind the exhibition is a large remnant of the BerlinWall. (The nearby Finanzamt is the only Nazi-era building in Berlin that survived virtually intact.)


Charlottenburg

  • Zoo Station Area

    The Zoologischer Garten Station area, more often simply referred to as Zoo Station, used to be the commercial heart and life of West Berlin. It is still a bustling area at all hours, but some of the glamour has faded as most investments during the 1990s were ploughed into the newly fashionable areas of East Berlin. However, in recent years, the area again experienced growth, with new hotels and upgraded shopping facilities.

    Zoo Station is still the central transportation hub of Berlin. It is the busiest in Berlin, with most long distance trains arriving here, most S-Bahn lines passing through, and many buses departing from here.

  • Shopping Districts: Kurfürstendamm and Tauentzienstraße

    Right in front of Zoo station is Breitsheidplatz, a popular meeting and hangout place for people of all ages. From here, two of Berlin’s busiest shopping streets spread out, the wide tree-lined Kurfürstendamm to the west and Tauentzienstraße, with the famous KaDeWe store, to the east. The Kurfürstendamm was laid out as a four-lane boulevard similar to the Champs Elysées by Otto von Bismarck. Although Germany has more memorials to Bismarck than any other single figure, Berlin – typically – has denied him a statue on the one street where he really wanted one!

  • Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirch

    One of the enduring symbols of West Berlin, the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (Emperor William Memorial Church), on Breitscheidplatz,, was built at the end of the 19th century and almost completely destroyed during World War II. After the war, it was decided to leave the bombed-out tower as a warning of the destructiveness of war. A small, very modern church and tower of blue glass bricks were built next to it between 1959 and 1961. English services are held Sundays, usually at 10 am. The modern church is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm. The bell tower houses a Third World Shop and the tower cannot be ascended. The Memorial Hall in the bombed-out tower, which has some remarkably intact mosaics depicting events in the life of the Kaiser, is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free. The bombed tower is known locally as the hollow tooth, while the modern church and tower are known as the lipstick and powder box.

  • Europa Center

    Behind the Memorial Church is the 1960s Europa Center, the glitziest shopping center in town when the city was still split. Nowadays, it appears a bit dated, although some of the almost 100 boutiques and other small shops are still popular, especially with the younger crowd. Inside is a 13-m (33-foot) high water clock; the revolving Mercedes Benz star on the roof is a meter/three feet taller. The Berlin Information Office is located in the center – entrance from Budapester Straße.

  • Zoologischer Garten

    The Zoologischer Garten (Zoological Gardens), Hardenberger Platz, 030-254-010, is home to more than 1,400 species, including pandas. It is large by European standards and a pleasant diversion. The main entrance is directly opposite Zoo station with a side-entrance across the road from the Europa Center. It is open daily from 9 am until dark (latest entrance 6:30 pm). Admission is i9.

  • The Story of Berlin

    The Story of Berlin, on Kurfürstendamm, is a privately run 90-minute multimedia show on the history of Berlin – a good introduction to the city’s 800-year history. It has the only original nuclear bunker open to the public in Berlin.

  • Schloss Charlottenburg

    Schloss Charlottenburg, located on Luisenplatz in Charlottenburg, is the centerpiece of the enclave and the largest remaining Hohenzollern palace. It represents court art and culture in the Brandenburg-Prussian monarchy from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Last updated September 2, 2012
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