Five Sites to Help You Understand Berlin
The Berlin of today is best know for its abundance of cultural attractions and lively nightlife. It is one of many reputations it has had through its turbulent history of reinventing itself. In 2001 a visiting French culture minister said, “Paris is always Paris, and Berlin is never Berlin.” In a place where change happens both rapidly and daily, perhaps the best time to visit Berlin is right now.
We recommend these five sites to help you capture the dynamic history of the German capital.
The Sony Center
A visit in the evening is a must do at the latest reincarnation of the ever evolving Potsdamer Platz. This square was once a bustiling hive of activity before its destruction during WWII. Later it was caught in limbo as it straddled the border between a divided Berlin. Redevelopment in the 1990s made this sight the largest construction site in the city, and at its core came the Sony Center. Visit its unbelievable forum where you can walk under an illuminated glass roof and witness an artistic interpration of a continuously reoccurring sunset.
The Brandenburg Gate has been an icon of Berlin ever since it was commissioned in the 18th century. It has survived through some of the city’s darkest hours and is now more popular than ever. For visitors who would like a more personal audience with Berlin’s most recognizable monument, we recommend a visit after dark. Once the sun sets, the school groups, protesters and buskers thin out and skillfully arranged lighting turns on to highlight the gates impressive architecture.
See the creative reinvention that makes Berlin so appealling for visitors at one of its most impressive and unique green spaces. Orignally built as an international airport early in the 20th century, Tempelhof closed to air traffic in 2008 and became an instant favorite for joggers, picnickers and guerrilla gardeners who swiftly began using the ample space as their own. We highly recommend taking a bike down one of the old landing strips where you can still see the tire skids left from the commercial aircraft that once landeded there regularly.
For 28 long years the Berlin Wall divided the city between east and west. When it fell in 1989, people from all over there world came to be a part of history by joining Berliners as they began freely moving across their city once again. In all the excitement much of the wall was destroyed and these days there are few places to see what remains. The Eastside Gallery is the most photo worthy section of wall left. Here artists from around the world came to paint murals along sections of the old wall and have created one of the largest outdoor galleries in the world.
Visitors to Treptow Park will find one of the city’s most chilling and awe inspiring memorials tucked away in the corner of this beatifully manicured park. To ensure the world never forgets the tremendous sacrifice of the Soviet soldiers who lost their lives fighting against the Nazis in WWII, the Soviets built three memorials in Berlin. The memorial in Treptow Park is by far the grandest and largest. Its focal point is a statue of a soldier, standing nearly forty feet high, smashing a swastika beneath his feet. Photos don’t do the scale of this memorial justice, it must be seem to be believed.