Top 10 Things To Do in Berlin
Rich with history, art and beautiful architecture, Berlin should top anyone’s list of dream destinations. Here are the top 10 things you need to do on your trip to Berlin.
Of all the buildings in Berlin, the Parliamentary Building is probably one of the most symbolic. The mighty structure, erected in 1884-94 by Paul Wallot as the proud manifestation of the power of the German Reich, was destroyed by arson in 1933 and bombed during the Second World War. In 1996, the artist Christo wrapped up the Reichstag and, in 1994-9, the British architect Sir Norman Foster transformed it into one of the most modern parliamentary buildings in the world. Today it is the official seat of the Bundestag, the German parliament.
Unter den Linden
“As long as the lime trees still blossom in Unter den Linden, Berlin will always be Berlin,” Marlene Dietrich once sand about this magnificent avenue. Today the lime trees blossom more beautifully than ever in the historical centre of Berlin, because the old buildings along the street have been extensively restored and modern architecture has created new highlights. The “Linden” – originally a royal bridle-path linking the Stadtschloss (the king’s town residence) and Tiergarten – became Berlin’s most fashionable street in the 18th century, and was synonymous with the city that was then the capital of Prussia.
The heart of the new metropolis of Berlin beats on Potsdamer Platz. This square, where Berliners and tourists alike now flock to cinemas, restaurants and shops, was already a hub of urban life in the 1920s. After the Second World War, it became a desolate wasteland, but since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Potsdamer Platz – for a while Europe’s largest building site – has become a city within the city, surrounded by imposing edifices that began to appear in the 1990s and are still being added to today.
Formed by the tributaries of the Spree River, Museumsinsel is an island in central Berlin that is home to the world’s most diverse yet coherent museum complex. Built between 1830 and 1930, the museums, which hold the Prussian royal collections of art and archeology, were turned into a public foundation in 1918. Heavily damaged during the Second World War, all museums have since been reconstructed and in 1999 the complex was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Ongoing construction work will connect the individual museums. On the island’s north side is the hugely impressive Berliner Dom.
After years of decline, the Kurfurstendamm, or Ku’damm for short, has once again become a fashionable hot spot. Breathtaking architecture, elegant boutiques and a lively scene with street artists around Breitscheidplatz has made this shopping boulevard one of Berlin’s most attractive and longest avenues for strolling.
One of the most haunting symbols of Berlin, the ruins of the memorial church in the heart of the city’s West End, have been irreverently nicknamed “the hollow tooth”. The Neo-Romanesque church was given the name of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in 1895, to honour Wilhelm I. Following damage by severe bombing raids in 1943, the ruins of the tower were left standing as a memorial. Next to it, Egon Eiermann erected a new church in 1957-63. Religious services are now conducted here.
The construction of Schloss Charlottenburg, designed as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Elector Friedrich III, began in 1695. Between 1701 and 1713 Johann Friedrich Eosander added a cupola and the Orangerie was extended. Today, it has been extensively renovated.
The Kulturforum is a unique complex of museums, concert halls and libraries, located a few minutes’ walk west of Potsdamer Platz. Every year, some of the most outstanding European art museums, as well as the famous concert hall of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, attract millions of visitors who are interested in culture and music. The Kulturforum, based in the former West Berlin, has been growing since 1956, as a counterpoint to the Museumsinsel in the former East Berlin. Here visitors can admire some of the best examples of modern architecture in the capital.
Berlin’s Zoological Garden is Germany’s oldest zoo and, with over 1,500 different species, it is one of the best in the world. Animals have been kept and bred here, in the northwest of the Tiergarten district, since 1844. A total of about 17,000 animals live in the zoo, ranging from saucer jellyfish to the Indian elephant. Some enclosures are interesting buildings in their own right. In summer, a visit to the zoo is a favourite day out for Berliners, and many animals, such as the panda and baby gorillas, have become celebrities.
Brandenburg Gate & Pariser Platz
The best known of Berlin’s symbols, the Brandenburg Gate, built by Carl G. Langhans in 1789-91, stands proudly in the middle of Pariser Platz, asserting itself against the modern embassy buildings that now surround it. Crowned by its triumphant Quadriga sculpture, the famous Gate has long been a focal point of Berlin’s history: rulers and statesmen, military parades and demonstrations -all have felt compelled to march through.