Berlin is not only Germany’s capital and largest city with a population of around three and a half million, it’s also one of Europe’s most exciting and sophisticated capitals. The city is constantly reinventing itself – during the 1920s and ‘30s it was well known for its bohemian and decadent atmosphere; during the 1960s it was synonymous with the ‘cold war’ feel of the time and featured in countless spy movies. Today, Berlin is one of the most visited cities in Europe.
The city has plenty of modern cutting-edge architecture as well as world class cultural attractions; however, there are still plenty of reminders of Berlin’s often turbulent past. The famous Berlin Wall still survives in sections throughout the city, often indicated by graves, flowers or political graffiti and is still one of the top tourist attractions. Other reminders of Berlin’s past can still be seen - the most famous border crossing point between what was West and East Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie, is now a museum that shows some of the ingenious ways that people tried to cross the wall, including hiding in a tiny compartment hollowed out of a car.
One of the city’s most instantly recognizable landmarks is the blackened shell of the Kaiser Wilhelm church which was deliberately left in its ruined state to be a permanent reminder of the futility of fighting. Don’t miss the beautiful blue stained glass, as well as a cross made entirely of nails from Coventry Cathedral in England, which was virtually destroyed by German bombing during World War II.
Berlin has several of the best museums in Europe, clustered conveniently together on an island in the River Spree. The Pergamon Museum has unrivaled collections of art and artifacts from various ancient civilizations such as Persia, Babylonia, and Greece. Some of the highlights of the museum include one of the longest stone friezes in the world, and a Roman gate dating from around 120 AD. Almost as impressive is the Bode Museum, which contains everything from Egyptian and Byzantine art to masterpieces by the great Flemish and Italian painters of the 15th and 16th centuries.
One of Europe’s most spectacular royal palaces is located close to Berlin’s large and central open space, the Tiergarten. The huge Charlottenburg Palace was built by the wife of Friedrich I and the whole sprawling complex contains various museums, as well as priceless tapestries and paintings. Elsewhere in the Tiergarten is Berlin’s famous zoo, one of the best in the world and home to 13,000 animals, including over 500 species of birds and over 9,000 species of fish.
Getting around Berlin is easy; the city has an efficient network of trams, as well as one of the world’s best underground systems, the U-Bahn. A ticket good for a whole day of travel costs around $10. Berlin is one of Europe’s least expensive capitals and is far less expensive to visit than Paris, Rome or London. A decent four star hotel room will cost an average of $140 per night; there is also plenty of cheaper student type accommodation and pensions, particularly in the western suburbs.
But many visitors still come to Berlin to sample the city’s legendary and rather risqué nightlife. There are plenty of places to do just that, however the city also boasts a thriving theater and cinema scene and plenty of cafes, once the haunt of intellectuals; today they make a great place to sit and enjoy this great city.
This article was supplied by Mancunian from Constant Content.