Berlin. I always wanted to visit the current capital of Germany. I heard about it a lot, and I was curious to compare the ideas in my mind with the reality. A cosmopolitan, open-minded, young and modern city – this is what people told me about Berlin in the past. Now the time has arrived: Berlin here we come!
The Museum Island
Upon our arrival the weather does not help us: it rains. We decide to leave our baggage at the hotel and then go right away to visit the famous Museum Island. This way we can visit interesting places while we keep ourselves dry! The Museum Island is found in the northern part of the island, situated within a few minutes walking distance from Alexander Platz, on River Spree banks, in the Mitte district. It is so called for the complex of five internationally significant museums, all part of the Berlin State Museums.
Pergamon and Neues Museum in Berlin
We decide to visit two of the five museums: the Pergamon Museum and the Neues Museum. I recommend both of them. You can take pictures inside them and there you can visit 2 really cool archaeological features, the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon and the Nefertiti bust in the Neues Museum (this is the only room where you cannot take pictures though) .
If you like historical stuff you can spend a whole day in these two Museums. We bought the BerlinWelcomeCard, this includes:
- transportation, 24 hrs all round Berlin, with unlimited rides,
- attractions like these 2 museums,
- and also discounts on other tickets.
If you are a tourist that likes to take your time and do everything “slowly”, it is not for you. But if you like to visit the most important attractions and you’re fast enough to do so, you may save some money with it.
For lunch we decide to eat in a small German fast food, which sells typical German sausages. If you’re in the area you should try it, this way you’ll not waste too much time for lunch and you’ll have the chance to try a local delicatessen. The restaurant is in front of Berlin’s Cathedral, just across the river, and is called Bandy’s Currywurst. From the cathedral just cross the bridge over the river and Bandy’s will be on your right side. And in front of you, you’ll see the famous Berliner-Fernsehturm, or TV Tower, (with the Berlin WelcomeCard you will have a discount to visit the Sky Deck).
The Berliner Fernsehturm is located few steps from Alexander Platz, the famous square of the East Berlin, and the center of the city, with shops, restaurants, train station and much more.
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Symbol
Brandenburg Gate is definitely the symbol of Berlin, the most famous monument. This neoclassical structure is fascinating either by night or by day. They started to build it in 1788, as a symbol of peace, and it is located in Pariser Platz. Just in front of it was built part of the no less famous Berlin Wall. It was closing the entrance to West Berlin to everyone coming from East Berlin and the rest of the “Soviet” Germany.
Checkpoint Charlie was a well known checkpoint between the 2 Berlins. In use from 1945 to 1990, it separated the “American” Berlin from the “Soviet” Berlin. I did not know about this historic place, I felt a little ignorant, but actually, we travel for that reason: to learn new things!
If you want, you can take a photo at this checkpoint, with “American soldiers”, in the area there are also McDonald’s, many souvenir shops and cafes, as well as the museum across the street, and even some sections of the wall of Berlin. For sure this is a must if you’re visiting Berlin!
East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery is the longest section of the Berlin Wall that still exists at a length of 1.3 kilometers. Nowadays it represents freedom and was named a protected monument. After the demolition of the wall, the back of the wall was painted with graffiti as well as the front part, with drawings that promote peace.
It is located not far from Alexander Platz, on the banks of River Spree and close to Oberbaumbrücke bridge, you can see a pic of that bridge below.
The Opera of Berlin
By coincidence one of our evenings in Berlin, we ended up in Berlin’s most fashionable and posh area. It reminded me of Munich in some ways. Here you can find very nice historic buildings such as the Opera and others as illustrated below. Walk another 5 minutes and there is also the Mall La Fayette, not as beautiful and big as the one in Paris, but it’s worth the visit if you do like malls.
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
This is perhaps the most ruined monument in Berlin due to the World War II bombings. But still really beautiful. Alongside they are building a modern church in two sections… not the best choice honestly.
The Olympiastadion Berlin
Well if you like soccer you’ll enjoy visiting the Olympiastadion. The Herta Berlin soccer team plays here and the 2006 World Cup Final and the 2015 Champions League Final games were held here. The Olympiastadion is also a symbol of Hitler’s Nazism, where the 1936’s Olympic Games were held, and under his order that stadium was built on another stadium that formerly was supposed to host the Olympic Games in 1916 but the Games were never played because of the outbreak of the First World War.
With this article we have “tasted” a little bit of today’s Berlin. The cosmopolitan Berlin, open minded but with a strong Soviet influence. But well integrated with the capitalist West Berlin (which was for many years under the French, English and American influence). Perhaps you have noticed that I have not talked about places where to eat or where to spend the night, because of two reasons: 1) I’ll tell you in the next post, and 2) you’ll find out by reading the next coming soon post! 😉