Explore Berlin: Travel Guide


Berlin is the capital and the largest city of Germany as well as one of its constituent 16 states. With a population of approximately 3.5 million people, Berlin is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union.

It is a world city of culture, politics, media and science. Its economy is based on high-tech firms and the service sector, encompassing a diverse range of creative industries, research facilities, media corporations and convention venues.

Berlin serves as a continental hub for air and rail traffic and has a highly complex public transportation network. The metropolis is a popular tourist destination. Significant industries also include IT, pharmaceuticals, biomedical engineering, clean tech, biotechnology, construction and electronics.

There are questions that can be answered quite easily. And then there are questions such as: "What's the first place we'll visit in Berlin?" Difficult question because there are so many sights in Berlin. So, things you really must see:

Alexanderplatz

Alexanderplatz is one of the most famous squares in Berlin and certainly the largest. Named after the Russian Czar Alexander I, who visited the capital of Prussia in 1805, "Alex" became a traffic hub when a train station was established there in 1882. The construction of the Central Market Hall (1886) and Tietz department store transformed Alexanderplatz into one of the main shopping areas of Berlin. It was even made famous in 1929 by Alfred Doblin's classic novel "Berlin Alexanderplatz."

Brandenburg Gate

While the only remaining city gate of Berlin formerly used to represent the separation of the city between East and West Berlin, since the Berlin Wall came down in 1989 the Brandenburg Gate has now come to symbolize German unity. In addition, this gate made of sandstone is one of the finest examples of German classicism. Built according to the plans of Carl Gotthard Langhans from 1788 to 1791, the Brandenburg Gate is modelled on the Propylaeum of Athens’ Acropolis.

Museum Island

Berlin’s Museum Island is a magnificent work of art in its own right, an extraordinary ensemble of five world-renowned museums on an island in River Spree right in the heart of Berlin’s city center. The many highlights include the bust of Nefertiti and the Pergamon Altar. The Museum Island was a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique ensemble of buildings and cultural artefacts.

The opening of the Altes Museum in 1830 made historically significant collections and art accessible to the general public for the first time. Over the next century, four other museums were added to the island, leading to its being dubbed “Museum Island” from the late 1870s. The roots of the ensemble date back to the Enlightenment and its educational ideals and the buildings reflect the evolution of modern museum design over more than a century.

Siegessäule

It was originally designed by Heinrich Strack and was built between and 1864 and 1873 at Königsplatz. It has now been put under a preservation order. The reason for its being built was Prussia’s victory in the German-Danish war in 1864. In the course of a few years, two additional victorious wars were added: the German war of 1866 against Austria and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1.

These three victories are commemorated by the three original segments, onto which a bronze sculpture was placed. During the era of National Socialism, the Victory Column increased in size to a total height of 67 meters. Between 1938 and 1939, in preparation for the future capital of the Reich “Germania,” the Victory Column was moved to the middle of Tiergarten. After surviving the war largely unscathed, the Victory Column was restored to its previous state that existed during the end of the 19th century.

Zoological Garden / Zoo Aquarium

Two elephants made of Elbe Sandstone that are lying down and supporting two heavy columns. Furthermore: a curved roof, decorated with golden, East Asian painting and imaginative carvings. The Zoological Garden already makes clear through its main entrance, the Elephant Gate, which was built in 1899, that it is a unique place to see. It is Germany’s oldest zoo and its collection of round 16.000 animals including about 1.500 various species is the most important animal collection in the world.

The zoo also includes a predator, a hippo and a nocturnal animal house as well as the largest aviary located in Europe. The zoo’s aquarium, which can also be visited separately, contains biotopes for sharks, piranhas and fish from coral reefs. The efforts of the famous scientist Alexander von Humboldt and the African explorer Lichtenstein Martin Hinrich as well as the horticultural director Peter Joseph Lenné led to the creation of Zoological Gardens in the middle of the nineteenth century.

After a construction period lasting only two years, the zoo, which was designed by Lenné, opened its doors in 1844. The first animals in the zoo were those belonging to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV who donated them from the menagerie and the pheasant house located in Tiergarten.

The Wall

During night of August 12th, 1961, the National People’s Army began cordoning off the streets and rail lines towards West Berlin. The GDR government then allowed a wall to be built along the sector borders. In trying to get over the border, which is 167.8 kilometer long, that between 136 and 209 people were killed according to current research. On November 9th 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. The once divided city remembers the victims of the division at numerous sites.

*CC0 Creative Commons Images from Pixabay

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