Aside from being German’s capital city, Berlin is also rich in culture and history. Even though the city was badly divided during both World War II and the Cold War, it has since reestablished itself as an internal city with spectacular architecture and diverse cultures. These are some of the best tourist attractions in Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is the only surviving city gate of Berlin and was built in the late 1700s. It marks the entrance to Unter den Linden and is located in the western part of Berlin. Because it was used as a crossing for the Berlin Wall, it was a site of protest during the separation of Germany and became a place of celebration when the wall finally fell in 1989.
During World War II, the Brandenburg Gate was badly damaged. But in the early 2000s, it underwent extensive renovation. Today the gate has been fully restored and it serves as a symbol to the reunification of East and West Berlin and the turbulent history of the region.
The Reichstag is a historic landmark and serves as the seat of the German Parliament. It has taken a great deal of damage throughout the years, most notably during a massive fire in 1933 and again in 1945 because of the air raids during the Battle of Berlin.
The Reichstag is very close to the Brandenburg Gate and the complete restoration was not complete until after the German reunification and the deconstruction of the Berlin Wall. As a tribute to the building’s difficult past, there are still some historical scars left at the Reichstag, one such example being graffiti left by Soviet soldiers.
The original Reichstag was a collaboration of a mix of styles and a number of different architects. Even though the completed structure was somewhat controversial at the time, it now brings in thousands of visitors each year. The top of the building has a glass dome, which offers a great view of the city, but you should be aware that you have to register beforehand to enter.
The Holocaust Memorial
Also located near the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial is a relatively simple but immensely powerful tribute to those people who lost their lives because of Hitler’s plans for extermination. Across 205,000 square feet there are 2,711 slabs arranged in a wave-like pattern. Every stone is unique, just like the people who lost their life. Some are more than six feet tall, while others are only ankle high.
The East Side Gallery
The longest stretch of the Berlin Wall still in existence can be found at the East Side Gallery. Even though it once represented a memorial to freedom, it is now a showcase to different paintings from artists from across the globe.
The artwork first started appearing in 1990, and expresses hope for the future and documents the changing time after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Some parts of the wall have been damaged by erosion and vandalism while others have been moved around to facilitate construction.
Museum Island is comprised of five different museums, and it is located between the Kupfergraben and the Spree River. Like many other sights in Berlin, the old museum buildings were almost destroyed during World War II, but they have since reopened.
You can find Greek and Roman artifacts at the Altes Museum displays, while you can find the largest collection of 19th century sculptures and paintings in Germany at the Alte Nationalgalerie. You can find prehistoric pieces and Egyptian art at the Nues Museum while you can enjoy a display of Greek and Babylonian antiquities at the Pergamon Museum. Finally, you can find a handful of paintings, coin collections, and a large collection of sculptures at the Bode Museum.
Check Point Charlie
Check Point Charlie is one of the most famous crossing points of the Berlin Wall. It has historical and emotional significance. It got its name from the Western Allies and it was the single crossing point for foreigners and members of the Allied forces. The Allied Museum in Berlin-Zehlendorf houses the original guardhouse that once stood here. You can visit the museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie (house at Checkpoint Charlie), for the original Checkpoint sign and the best documentation on escape attempts.
The Großer Tiergarten once served as the hunting grounds of the Brandenburg elite. Nowadays it functions as an urban park in central Berlin. You can find the Berlin Victory Column in the park, which commemorates a Prussian victory. It is possible to use any of the four different underground tunnels to reach the column on foot. Near the Column you can find the Schloss Bellevue, which translates into the ‘Beautiful Palace, this is the official residence of the President of Germany. In Tiergarten’s southwest corner, you will find the Berlin Zoo – one of the most popular zoos in Europe with open-air habitats and almost 20,500 animals.