8-day trip to Berlin
Visiting the Parliament Building (Reichstag), the Tiergarten Park, St. Nicholas church (Nikolaikirche), Spree river, the ancient port (Historicher Hafen Berlin), the New Synagogue (Neue Synagogue ), the Jewish Museum, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall, Alexanderplatz, TV Tower, St. Mary’s Church (Marienkirche), Red Town Hall (Rathaus Rothes), the fountain of Neptune (Neptunbrunnen), the statues of Marx and Engels, the Cathedral (Berliner Dom), Altes Museum, Museum Island, Bodenmuseum, Charlottenburg, Egyptian Museum, Museum of Pergamum (Pergamon), Brandenburg Gate, House of Culture, Triumphal Column (Siegessaule), the statue of Victory (Goldelse), statue of Fortune, the monument to the great Elector, Philharmonic Hall (Philharmonie), Gemäldegalerie, Posdamer Platz, Sony Center, Administrative Daimler- Benz, IMAX cinema, Unter Den Linden, the French Cathedral (Franzosischer Sun), German Cathedral (Deutscher Dom), Zeughaus, Quartier 206, Quartier 207, La Fayette department store, Kaiser- Wilhelm- Gedachtniskirke, Theater Des Westens, Kant-dreieck Palace, Europa-Center, Potsdam, Sanssouci Park, Charlottenhof Palace, New Palace (Neues Palais), Orangerie, Neu Kammen, Chinese Tea House (Chinesisches Teehaus).
Berlin is a young city! It’s still a builder’s yard!
Everywhere in the city there are buildings in the course of construction: the new Parliament , the new train station, new shopping centers, new and futuristic buildings. Moreover they are restoring a large number of monuments, museums (therefore not open to visitors) and palaces , most of them placed in the ex-East Berlin
It is in this part of Berlin that we still can see the scars left by the old regime.
Berlin is a city surrounded by greenery. Its parks are huge, the central Tiergarten is big, public gardens are numerous and the large avenues are always tree-lined. The roads are quite wide so that bike lanes are painted on the sidewalks .
S.Nicola district (Nicholas or Nikolaiviertel), several monuments to remember the Jews and Check Point Charlie
The emblem of Berlin is the Bear and many shops sell bears of all sizes, mainly in the old quarter of St. Nicholas (Nikolaiviertel), one of the oldest quarters in Berlin with beautiful palaces that are reflected on the waters of the Spree river. Not far away we visited the ancient port of Berlin (Historicher Hafen Berlin) where old barges and old tug boats are anchored.
There are numerous historical bridges crossing the Spree river, some decorated with statues and others, the majority, with the Prussian eagle.
Berlin reminds us, with several monuments located in the most significant places, the suffering and sacrifice of the Jews.
One of the most significant memorial is the one that recall all the concentration camps where Jews have been brought. It has been quite impressive also to see the monument dedicated to the memory of the deportations representing a group of Jews led to their deaths. Nearby there is a tomb where many visitors leave their thoughts for their beloved dead.
We visited the heart of the Jewish district where the Synagogue, completely destroyed during the last war, had recently been restored. It was touching to see, unfortunately with great frequency, brass plaques placed on the floor in front of the doors of the buildings. Those plaques are in memory of the Jewish inhabitants who were deported and never returned.
The Checkpoint Charlie, was the passage between East Berlin and the part under American control. This place is remembered because the original control tower is still there as well as a piece of the Berlin wall in which some holes have been drilled and huge sculptures of butterflies have been applied. This work symbolizes the numerous escapes for freedom. Nearby, still well preserved and fenced, there are about 200 meters of the original wall.
The best and most economical mean of transport for getting around the city is the subway. But, having no hurry and wishing to have fun, another possible mean is a “biking taxi”, a taxi with…pedals! You can also consider the possibility of a tour with an old Trabant, always working and smelly.
It had been recently built a building to house the Jewish Museum. The twisted zig- zag plant of the museum symbolizes a warped Star of David. Inside there are many symbols ranging from the hallway with no windows, the Holocaust tower, the exterior windows which are long and narrow as sharp blades and almost obstruct the view of the outside, the inner courtyard on whose floor are placed mountains of stylized skulls .
Outside, a series of columns symbolize the isolation to which the Jews had been subjected.
Alexander Platz, St.Maria (Marienkirche), Red City Hall (Rotes Rathaus), Neptun fountain (Neptunbrunnen), Marx ed Engels statue
We started the tour of the city from the east side, namely from Alexander Platz. In the square, we could admire the imposing Television Tower, 365 meters high, the beautiful church of St. Mary (Marienkirche), the Red City Hall (Rotes Rathaus) and the beautiful fountain of Neptune (Neptunbrunnen) made by the sculptor Begas.
Finally, we must mention the statues of Marx and Engels, of questionable beauty, inaugurated in 1986.
Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) and Altes Museum
Going towards the city center we met the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom).
In the same square there is also the Altes Museum with a beautiful façade on whose sides are placed the bronze statues of the Dioscuri (Castor and Pollux).
The Cathedral had been recently restored whereas the statues were still black because of the smoke of the coal heating.
Inside the Cathedral we could admire the beautiful organ, the ceiling of the dome and the stained glass windows above the altar.
Egyptian Museum with bust of the queen Nefertiti and head of Queen Teje
The Egyptian Museum collects very interesting unique pieces, some of great beauty.
Two in particular: the bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti and the small yew- wood head of Queen Teje (of only 10 cm.).
Museum Island, Pergamonmuseum
In the Museum Island, the Pergamon Museum was open. On its walls are still visible bursts of machine gun and grenade blasts. The museum is filled with relics of immense beauty and enormous size (as the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, the Gate of Ishtar , etc…) of Greek, Roman, Assyrian and Islamic art.
Tiergarten park, Brandenburg Gate, House of Culture, Triumphal Column, Charlottenburg Palace
Proceeding towards the city center we crossed the vast Tiergarten park which was the royal hunting reserve. We could see numerous monuments all over the place: the Brandenburg Gate, the Soviet War memorial dedicated to the Russian soldiers, the House of Culture (which Berliners jokingly call “pregnant oyster”), the spectacular Triumphal Column at the top of which stands the golden statue of Victory, the Charlottenburg Palace, at the eastern end of the park, with the statue representing Fortune. In its courtyard, there is the beautiful equestrian sculpture of the Great Elector. In Tiergarten there is also the Philharmonie (a tent-shaped golden building) with a chamber-music hall nearby.
Potsdamer Platz, Sony Center (work by Helmut Jahn) and Sony Tower
A few hundred meters onwards and we reached Potsdamer Platz which had been, before the last World War, one of the most important areas of Berlin with important hotels and shopping malls. Everything was razed and the area abandoned due to the passage of the infamous partition wall. In recent years the area has seen the rise of numerous buildings and shopping centers. The Sony Center is the most futuristic building designed by the architect Helmut Jahn.
It has an interior space covered by a dome in which, with great effect, have been included mirror tents similar to huge sails. The buildings of that complex are all in glass, the most significant is the Sony Tower.
Daimler-Benz centre (by Renzo Piano), Marlen Dietrich square, IMAX cinema and Arkaden
Palace of the Parliament
On the east side of Tiergarten, leaving the Brandenburg Gate on the right, we found the Palace of the Parliament where there is the inscription “Dem Deutschen Volke” ( to the German people). The Reichstag was recently restored and converted into a meeting room. With its repair, the building was topped by a glass dome with a panoramic gallery . It is very interesting the play of lights given by the mirrors which cover the central column. It is superb also the night-time lighting.
Metro station (Friedrichstrasse), French Cathedral and German Cathedral and Zeughaus building (German Historical Museum)
Quartier 206 (luxurious stores) and Quartier 207 (La Fayette Dept Store) with Matisse’s paintings Exhibition
Walking down the wide avenue we visited an exhibition dedicated to Matisse and a group of buildings, connected by a passageway underground, with shopping centers and department stores. The Quartier 206, in Art Deco, is inhabited by numerous fashion shops and the Quartier 207 is home to the wide French La Fayette department store.
Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirke church, “Berlin” sculpture, Europa Center and Kantdreieck palace
I decided to leave as last visit the one to the area where the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedachtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) stands.
The church was badly damaged in a bombing raid in 1943 and only a piece of the tower is left. The Berliners decided to maintain it untouched, transforming the tower into one of the symbols of the city. Nearby they built, in a modern style, the new clock tower and the octagonal bell tower. Within the latter there is beautiful and large sculpture of Christ.
Not far away there is the sculpture “Berlin”, unveiled in 1987, symbolizing the “old” divided Berlin.
In the front square of the Europa Center, another shopping center, we could see a strange granite fountain representing the “World”. The interior of the shopping center is decorated with colorful lights and strange and beautiful fountains among which the most famous one called “Clock of Flowing Time” (that is a water…clock!). Quite close there are other important monuments: the Stock Exchange building (called building “armadillo”), the Theater Des Westens (Theatre of the West) for musicals and operettas with a richly decorated facade and the Kant-Dreieck building, famous for the “sail” on the roof.
Potsdam: Sanssouci park with Charlottenhof palace, Neues Palais (New Palace), Orangerie and Neu Kammern
Sanssouci park. Inside the park we visited the Charlottenhof palace, Neues Palais (New Palace), the Orangerie (Orangery Palace), the Neu Kammern (New Chambers), behind which there is an ancient windmill, the Sanssouci Palace and the Chinesisches Teehaus (Chinese Tea House).
In the city it is worth mentioning the Dutch Quarter and the church of St. Nicholas.
The visit to Berlin was very interesting, but incomplete. Too many museums were closed for repairs and many works were in the course of construction.
Therefore Berlin is a city which must be visited again.