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10 things to do and see in Berlin

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10 things to do and see in Berlin
10 things to do and see in Berlin

Berlin is not only the city that was once was divided by the most famous wall in the world, but it’s also and above all a cradle of human history’s treasures.  These treasures such as the Pergamon Altar, the Gate of Babylon, the Papyri Collection and several works of European Prehistory are kept in one small island, right in the middle of the Sprea River.

It’s the home of electronic music, avant-garde architecture and Gothic ruins. It’s the city where destruction, division, reconciliation, memory and redemption chase each other in an eccentric and cosmopolitan views.

Under the austere blanket of a dark past and impossible to forget, Berlin will surprise you.

Here we suggest you the 10 things to do and see during a holiday in Berlin.

If you are looking for a hotel in Berlin, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 1000 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

The Reichstag in Berlin

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This monument represents the collapse of Nazism and immortalizes a Soviet soldier hoisting the flag with hammer and sickle on its top. The Reichstag is the seat of the German parliament and like many Berliners monuments, it brings all the signs of the Second World War and has its own story to tell.

The Reichstag in Berlin
The Reichstag in Berlin

Born as a building to house the rooms of the German Parliament, it was from one of its windows that in 1918 was proclaimed the birth of the German Republic, marking the decline of the monarchy. In February of 1933, a terrible fire almost completely destroyed the building and during the Second World War it was used as a clinic for new births.

One year after the fall of the Wall, in October 2 1990, here was celebrated the official ceremony of the reunified Germany. Only in 1999, it  has officially returned the symbol of German democracy hosting the Houses of Parliament again. The beautiful dome of steel and glass that we see today was designed by the British architect Sir Norman Foster, as a symbol of openness after the dark period of division and through its windows you can see the whole of Berlin and the Parliament’s internal area.

Where: Platz der Republik
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: S1, S2 stop Unter den Linden – Bus: 100
When – Hours: Every day from 08:00 to midnight; Never: December 24. It’s required the online booking at least 2 days in advance
Tickets: free entrance

Berlin wall

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“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”,  said the US President Ronald Reagan, during his famous speech in Berlin in 1987. Only two years later, on November 9, 1989, the wall was torn down, and with it all the ideological and political barriers that for 28 years have materially and cruelly split in two sections Berlin and Germany.

Berlin wall
Berlin wall

In August 1961 the city completely changed: 170 km of concrete marked the division of the world into two spheres, the American and the Soviet one. It was impossible to cross the borders, at least 136 people died trying to escape to West Berlin, others used all kinds of tools  to cross the wall: hot air balloons, ultralight aircraft and false documents with the letterhead of the United Nations are just a few examples.

On 9 November 1989 the leaders of the DDR government announced that East Berliners could cross the border and the wall fell down under the blows of hammers and picks. Just 1 km of  concrete remained intact and in 1990 artists from all over the world celebrated the reunification of Germany with colorful murals, some of which have become famous works in the world as “the mortal kiss” that captures the kiss on the mouth of Honecker and Brezhnev, and “Test the best” that depicts the “official” car of East Germany that breaks through the wall.

These and many other graffiti can be admired in the East Side Gallery, a real open – air art gallery, protected by the German government as a real monument.

Where: Mühlenstraße
How to get there: Metro U-Bahn: line 3, 5, 7, 9, 75 Warschauer Straße; or Ostbahnhof railway station.
Bus: 248, 165, 265, N65
When – Hours: always
Tickets: free entrance

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

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Checkpoint Charlie was a crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War , armored and controlled by the US military, built at the cross of two of the main streets of the city: between Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße.

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin
Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

Here, on October 25 1961 Soviet and American tanks faced each other and the American troops gained the right to freely move in Berlin. With the city divided in two sections , it was necessary to ensure that nobody of the DDR tried to go to the West side, so different checkpoints were installed: Checkpoint Alpha separated East Germany from Germany West; Checkpoint Bravo separated East Germany from West Berlin and Checkpoint Charlie,  monitored the border between Americans and Soviets.

Checkpoint Charlie fell down with the wall  and what we see today is a reproduction made in 2000, with the suggestive posters of two soldiers: an American guy who look  toward the East Berlin and a Soviet soldier looking towards the West zone, and the famous sign announcing “you’re leaving the american sector”

You can  visit the museum “House at Checkpoint Charlie”, where there’s a permanent exhibition about the history of the Wall and are exposed the most weird objects used to escape  by the inhabitants of East Berlin.

Where: Friedrichstraße 43-45
How to get there: Metro U-Bahn station Friedrichstraße
When – Hours:
Checkpoint everyday
Museum every day from 9 am to 10 pm
Tickets Museum: € 12,50

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

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The Brandenburg Gate is the third symbol of the Cold War.

When the night of November 9, 1989 the wall was demolished, thousands of people met  in front of the door, which had been closed since 1969 in the “no man’s land” between the two sectors of the city. But the story of the Brandenburg Gate start  in 1788 when William II commissioned the construction of one of the 18 gates of the City of Berlin like  the front door of the Athens Acropolis. On top of this majestic arch supported by 12 columns and  26 meters high, stands a Quadriga which depicts the Goddess of Victory on  a chariot drawn by four horses.

The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

The sculpture on  the Brandenburg Gate has a troubled history to tell : in 1806 it was the war booty of Napoleon who conquered the city. It was taken and brought to Paris before returning to Berlin in 1814 , and during the second World war it was destroyed by bombings. The Quadriga we see today was refund in 1953 and placed on one of the most significant monuments of XX century history.

Where: Pariser Platz
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: line 1, 2, 25 station  Brandenburger Tor

The Island of Museums in Berlin

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Have you have ever thought to find an island in the middle of the river running through the city? A special  island that can host five museums in a row, each with its treasures about the  human history.

The Island of Museums in Berlin
The Island of Museums in Berlin

The Altes Museum was the first to be built, between 1823 and 1830, and in the halls of the ground floor houses a collection of works and objects of the Ancient Greece world, while the upper floor is dedicated to  the Etruscan people and imperial Rome. Other relics of classical antiquity and the fabulous Egyptian works are hosted by Neus Museum, the “New Museum”. Among its treasures there’s  the bust of Nefertiti, which dates back to 1340 BC stone, of the Papyri Collection and several works of European Prehistory. In the Alte Nationalgalerie there’s  is the most important collection of German painting and sculpture of the XIX century and a collection of French Impressionism and German works. The Bode Museum, named after the architect who designed it, was built in 1904 and has a wonderful collection of coins with about 500,000 pieces, in addition to objects of Byzantine art and sculptures of the Classical World.

The Pergamon Museum, top of the range in the island, hosts  the Pergamon Altar, dating from the second century BC, and  other architectural wonders like the majestic Gate the market of Miletus, built in 120 BC, and the Gate of Babylon, built by the sovereign Nabucosondor and consecrated to the goddess Ishtar, embellished with beautiful mosaics.

Where: Bodestraße
How to get there: Metro U-Bahn: U6 (Friedrichstrasse)
Metro S-Bahn: S1, S2, S25 (Friedrichstrasse); S5, S7, S75 (Hackescher Markt)
Tram: M1, 12 (Kupfergraben); M4, M5, M6 (Hackescher Markt)
When – Hours:
Altes Museum: daily from 10:00  am to 6:00 pm ; Thursdays until 10:00 pm
Neus Museum: daily from 10:00 to 4:00 pm ; Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 8 pm.
Alte Nationalgalerie: daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ; Thursday until 8:00 pm ; Never Monday.
Bode Museum: daily from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm ; Thursday until 8:00 pm ; Never Monday.
Pergamon Museum: daily from 10:00 am  to 6:00 pm ; Thursday until 8:00 pm
Tickets:
Altes Museum: 10 €
Neus Museum: 12 €
Alte Nationalgalerie: 10 €
Bode Museum: 10€
Pergamon Museum: 12 €

The Berlin Cathedral

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The Berliner Dom has a baroque style with strong influences of the Italian Renaissance and it’s  114 meters long, 73 wide and 116 high.

The Berlin Cathedral
The Berlin Cathedral

The great  copper dome, is decorated with paintings depicting events of the New Testament and the period of Reform. Climbing up 270 steps, moreover, you can  arrive at the top, enjoying  a breathtaking view of Berlin. The bombing of the Second World War damaged the roof but the  reconstruction works began only in 1975. The cathedral was reopened in 1993, after 18 years, and still today you can admire the main altar, dating back to 1850; the Crypt of the Hohenzollern and the majestic Sauer Organ of 7000 pipes.

Where: Am Lustgarten
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: 5, 7 e station  Alexander Platz
When – Hours: Monday to Saturday from 09:00 am to 8:00 pm ; Sundays and holidays from 12:00 to 8:00 pm ; from October to March closed at 7:00 pm
Tickets: full ticket € 7 ; for people under 18 years old free entrance

Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

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This monument is 1 km far from the Brandenburg Gate and represents the commemoration for the 6 million Jews killed during the Nazi era. The monument was built by the American architect Peter Eisenman.

Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Opened in 2005,  it’s made of concrete stelae (stele) arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field.  Walking through the stelae the memorial becomes increasingly tight and irritating, so that visitors can experience the contrast between the before and after his entrance. You can find underground the information point  with a permanent exhibition to  trace the stories of several Jewish families and in the “Room of Names” will find brief biographies of all the victims with their names and year of birth.

Where: Cora-Berliner-Straße
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: stop Brandenburger Tor or Potsdamer Platz
Metro U-Bahn: stop a Potsdamer Platz or Mohrenstraße
When – Hours:
Info Point: from April to September: Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 am  to 8:00 pm ; October to March: Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm ; never: 24 to 26 December; Dec. 31 open until 4:00 pm
Tickets: free entrance

Alexander Platz in Berlin

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Alexander Platz has always been the most famous square in Berlin. Its name dates back to 1805, when during a visit to Berlin of  Tsar Alexander I, the square that housed the cattle and wool market, Ochsenmarkt (cattle market, in fact), was renamed Alexander Platz.

Alexander Platz in Berlin
Alexander Platz in Berlin

The square has always been a crucial point for the traffic of the capital : 20 tram and bus lines intersect at this point.

Its aspect  is a socialist architecture testimony, all surrounded by big buildings  as “The teacher’s house”; “The House of the trip”; “Electronic Industry House”. But the iconic building of Alexander Platz is undoubtedly the TV tower, which with its 365 meters high, each meter for each day of the year, dominates the town and is the tallest structure in Europe Western.

An elevator takes visitors to the steel ball,  which offers a spectacular view of Berlin. There are other two iconic symbols: the Urania Weltzeituhr, the clock that marks the hours of the world’s major cities, and Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft, the fountain dedicated to “friendship among peoples”.

Where: Alexander Platz
How to get there: Metro S-Bahn: line 5, 7 e 75 stop Alexander Platz
Metro U-Bahn: line 5, 8 e 2 stop Alexander Platz
When – Hours: TV tower: from March to October from 09:00 am  to midnight; from November to February from 10:00 am to midnight
Tickets: Full ticket € 11 ; under 16 years old € 7

Things to eat in Berlin

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German people love meat , especially sausage of which there is a great choice, and the cuisine is rich and nourishing.

Things to eat in Berlin
Things to eat in Berlin

The meat is accompanied by  potatoes (or Sauerkraut Kartoffel) with a clear preference for potatoes which are also in the salads (kartofellsalat). gnocchi (kartoffelklosse)  soup (kartoffelsuppe), and grilled (Bratkartoffelln). The most famous dish is the Eisbein, boiled pork pieces with sauerkraut. Beer is of course the most famous drink. Not everyone knows that in Berlin there are some of the most famous restaurants gourmet in the world  as well as many restaurant with ethnic and Italian food. Whatever your tastes don’t miss the hot dogs at the kiosks scattered everywhere in the city and the Kebab, Turkish specialties, masterfully prepared throughout Berlin.

Where to sleep in Berlin

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In Berlin there are about 1000 hotels of all categories and  hundreds of hostels and apartments for rent. A great offer with low prices will allows you to always find a suitable room for your needs.

Where to sleep in Berlin
Where to sleep in Berlin

In Mitte (center) you can find rooms in big buildings at 40 euro per night or small designer hotel with prices around 100 €. The German capital is well served by metro, bus and tram so you can choose a suburban hotel to save some money

If you are looking for a hotel in Berlin, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 1000 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com