A glimpse of Berlin

Three days are definitely not enough in order to explore Berlin, one of the most interesting, edgy and vibrant cosmopolitan cities in Europe. On the other hand, three days was all the time I needed to fall under Berlin’s spell and grasp its rich contradictory sights. Berlin is a multicultural society as its population is a melting pot of different nationalities. Furthermore, its breathtaking architecture, rich historic background and advanced technology captures everyone’s attention and makes you realize what an important role Berlin has played in worldwide history. During our stay there, we tried to visit as many places as possible and make the most of it for a weekend trip.

Day 1

After checking in at our hostel, we decided to start our Berlin exploration by walking all the way from Checkpoint Charlie to Brandenburg Gate! It’s the best way to get a better sense of the city’s vibe ! We walked the Wilhelmstraße Street, which lead us directly to our final Destination.

Checkpoint Charlie (or “Checkpoint C”) was Berlin’s best known crossing point between West and East Berlin nearby the inner Berlin sector boundary between 1961 and 1989, and was situated on the territory of former West Berlin in the Friedrichstraße before the junction with Zimmerstraße. It acted as a way station for officials traveling from one side of the Wall to the other, but it was also the site of frequent intrigue between the United States and the Soviet Union. Furthermore it served as an iconic symbol of the Cold War.

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Brandenburger Tor (or Brandenburg Gate) is one of Berlin’s most famous and important monument, and it was build in the 18th century. Throughout it’s existence it has been through a period of having suffered considerable damage during the WWII, but it was restored in the early 2000’s. Today, it’s considered as a symbol of Berlin’s unity and peace and it’s a reminder of the turbulent history of Europe and Germany.

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Brandenburger Tor by night.

Our next stop was the Bundenstag Building (the German parliament) or else called Reichstag, which is in walking distance of the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial which we visited as well that day.

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The dome of the Reichstag building is not only designed to offer visitors spectacular views across the city while they circle their way around it, but its energy efficient structure funnels natural light via numerous mirrors as well as fresh air into the parliamentary chamber. The visit of the dome and the rooftop terrace of the Reichstag Berlin is for free and all that you need to do is to register online on the Bundenstag website  in advance for a set time. Not only will you be able to get a nice view of Berlin and its surroundings, the 20 minute motion censored audio guide even tells you what you are looking at while you circle the 230 meters up and down the dome.
After our long tour we decided to make a stop at Café LebensArt and enjoyed a nice cup of hot cocoa accompanied by a luscious piece of apple strudel which totally hit the spot that rainy cold night! Sure it was a little bit expensive due to its location, but it was worth it! We also enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of the place and found the service to be friendly.
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Yummy apple strudel.

Once we were ready to go, we decided to follow the continuous Unter den Linden road which lead us to Alexanderplatz, Berlin’s famous central square and traffic junction in the district of Mitte. Along the way we were able to admire some more of Berlin’s breathtaking monuments and buildings by night and also make some stops at the cute souvenir shops.

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Berliner Dome on the left and the TV tower on the right. Can you see the contrast of the past and the future in this photo ?

Day 2

The early bird catches the worm, and in this case gets to see the most of Berlin! We got up early, had our breakfast at the Kamps Backstube and went off to explore as much as we could of what Berlin has to offer!

First stop : Berliner Dome (Berlin Cathedral), Berlin’s largest and most important Protestant church, located on Museum Island in Mitte. The history of this cathedral dates back to 1451 when it was first built. Since then, this outstanding baroque monument has undergone many phases of architectural renovations. The final construction of the cathedral was established in 1905. During WWII though, it was heavily damaged and it wasn’t until 1993 when it was reopened after restoration. In its official website you can find more information about the visiting hours, the entrance fee, etc.img_4870

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Next stop : Potsdamer Platz. One of the several “Berlin Wall Memorial” sites in Berlin is located here and it’s easily accessible by subway (line U2 and get off at Potsdamer Platz).
Here you can find some remaining sections of the wall alongside with a brief historical background of the Wall on some of the boards. This is one of the most attractive locations in Berlin as it’s in a bustling area of new buildings, restaurants and stores.

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Sections of the “Berlin Wall” in Potsdamer Platz.

Another important section of the former Berlin Wall which we visited, is located in Bernauer Straße. Part of it is turned in to a memorial park, the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer, which also includes a reconstructed short stretch of the actual Wall’s border fortifications (the poles seen in the pictures). Here you can also find the official Wall memorial with a documentation/visitor center.

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Day 3

The East Side Gallerya symbol of hope, friendship and also of freedom, is the world’s largest open air gallery created from a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall, paralleling the river Spree. In 1990, artists from all over the world, painted on the east side of the Berlin Wall, 105 amazing murals which speak the history of Berlin, Germany and Europe. All of the paintings, express in various artistic modes the great hopes for a better, more free future for all the people of the world. Over the years these murals have suffered vandalism and some major decays caused by weather and traffic fumes. Nowadays efforts are being made to restore the paintings and save the wall from any further destruction. It’s so sad though to see that most of these historical pieces of art have graffitis painted over them… img_4943

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Günther Schäfer – Homeland

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Dimitri Vrubel – Lord Help Me To Survive This Deadly Love (also known as “The Kiss” or “Brother Kiss”.

This is probably the most famous painting of the East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall which depicts East German President Erich Honnecker welcoming Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev with a kiss at the 30th anniversary celebration of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic, which was East Germany at the time.

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Alexej Taranin – Walls International
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Schamil Gimajev – Worlds People
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Ines Bayer – There are many Walls to remove
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Thierry Noir – Hommage to the Young Generation
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Birgit Kinder – Test The Rest
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Sándor Rácmolnar – Waiting For Prometheus
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Gerhard Lahr – Berlyn
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Jim Avignon – Doin It Cool For The Eastside
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Jolly Kunjappu – Dancing For Freedom
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Susanne Kunjappu-Jellinek – Curriculum Vitae

To be honest, there’s something about walking along the length of this part of the Berlin Wall while looking at these bizarre paintings that makes you stop and imagine what life used to be like just about thirty years ago…How much has changed since then…? It’s hard to put your finger on it but Berlin has a very unique style and a dynamic vibe, which one can simply understand once they visit the city.

As you can probably tell, I will be definitely visiting Berlin again sometime soon, and I hope you do the same 🙂

Lot’s of Love,

Perrie

 

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