Alexanderplatz in the former East Berlin district is a well-known meeting place.
Art, fashion and street culture
Berlin brings together artists, cultural people and other creative professionals not only from Germany but from all over the world. In the Prenzlauer Berg district, for example, an interesting concentration of new culture has emerged. There are also interesting boutiques and galleries to explore in the Hackesche Höfen area.
Berlin’s numerous traditional museums offer tourists much to see from the treasures of art history to contemporary art. Due to Berlin’s shared history, the city now has a double number of different cultural entities: Operas and concert halls continue both Eastern and Western traditions.
The history of a divided city
The history of Berlin as a divided city is still ubiquitous. The wall divided the city for almost 30 years and in the middle of East Germany was a small island to the west. The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Germans officially reunited in October 1990. A year later, Berlin again officially became the capital of the entire reunited Germany, replacing Bonn, which served as the capital of West Germany.
Many of Berlin’s attractions, such as Checkpoint Charlie, the GDR Museum and the grandiose buildings of Karl-Marx-Allee, still tell the stories of the Cold War. The most interesting of these is probably the GDR Museum right next to Alexanderplatz on the opposite shore of the Museumsinsel. It presents East German everyday life with interesting illustrations and is an excellent place to visit even for those who do not normally enjoy their trips to museums.
The East Side Gallery, which starts at Ostbahnhof, also gives a small feel to life in the shadow of the wall. This gallery is the only longer section of the Berlin Wall still in place. It is decorated throughout by artists. The works of the wall tell of war, peace and hope. They are authentic works from the time just after the fall of the wall, albeit partly already restored or in need of restoration.
Alexanderplatz and Unter den Linden
Berlin’s most famous landmark is its giant TV tower on Alexanderplatz. Most like to visit the tower and especially on summer weekends the queue up is quite. Fortunately, there is a numbering system that allows the waiting time to be used efficiently elsewhere and after buying a ticket you only have to return to the place a moment before your own lift time approaches. Upstairs in the tower is a nice restaurant, guaranteed to offer the best views of Berlin.
From Alexanderplatz, the journey is easy to continue to the Museumsinsel, the museum island, and the handsome Unter den Linden. Unter den Linden is a former East German parade street with many significant cultural and university buildings next to it. The wide street ends at the Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of united Germany.
Film life on Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz was a no-man’s land during the Wall. After the fall of the wall, the strip of land quickly filled with modern skyscrapers and office buildings, the Sony Center with its cinemas being the best known of them.
This is where Germany’s most handsome premieres with red carpets take place and the coveted prizes of the Berlin Film Festival are handed out. The complex also houses the Film Museum, an interesting destination for those interested in film history whose knowledge of the subject extends deeper than Hollywood.
At Potsdamer Platz, you can also head to the mini-Legoland in Berlin with the whole family or climb the Panorama Point to see the scenery and experience the fastest lift in Europe.
Climb the roof of the Reichstag
The roof of the German parliament building is decorated with a giant glass dome. It includes a helical strip that rises a long distance toward the ceiling all the way to the top observation deck. The Germans in particular want to experience this rise on their trip to Berlin. Admission to the dome is free, but visits must be booked in advance.
When visiting the Reichstag building, it is also easy to pop in at Berlin’s new main railway station. The glass building is like a bustling ant nest. The train tracks run on several floors and the station is an important crossroads for both ordinary commuters and tourists. The place is worth seeing even if you are not going anywhere.
Artists Prenzlauer Berg
Berlin is the center of German creative life. Artists can explore Berlin not only in the city’s numerous museums and galleries, but also by jumping away from the city center – or downtowns, after all, Berlin can’t really be said to have a single city center.
The Prenzlauer Berg district, for example, is a cozy and charming area where small boutiques and galleries thrive. The Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg fills up every Sunday as Berlin’s largest market and flea market rise from scratch over an extensive park area. This place, too, is a former wall line and a no-man’s land right on the east-west border.
Old West at Zoo and Ku’damm
The Bahnhof Zoo is a good base for exploring the former West Berlin region. Before, such an infamous position is already cooler, but the sleeve of a tourist may still be caught in the corners by one if another money seeker or a cheap hotel merchant. The nearby Tiergarten Park offers greenery in the heart of the big city.
The Kurfürstendamm, or more familiarly the Ku’damm, was once the main street in West Berlin. Along it and in the surrounding blocks you will still find the city’s finest department stores and the best shopping opportunities, such as KaDeWe, Europe’s largest department store on Tauenzienstrasse, the Kaufhaus des Westens. There are also many hotels in the area and easy access to the Berlin Trade Fair, for example.
THE BEST OF BERLIN
The spectacular paintings in the East Side Gallery are of interest to tourists.
Berlin’s most interesting sights in the GDR
- East Side Gallery
- DDR Museum
- Stasi Center
Various City Tours
- Trabant tour in Berlin
- A tour of the Berlin bomb shelters
- Free city tour led by locals from the Brandenburg Gate
The best food experiences
- Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab
- Street Food Thursday
- Brunch in a Berlin café