For much of the 20th century, Berlin was arguably the most divided city in the world – split between the East and West to separate the socialists from the democrats. After the toppling of the Berlin Wall in 1990, the city learned that two very different societies were made so with strict divisions from a social and economic level. Throughout the past ten years, Berlin has experienced a rise from the ashes from a troubled place to a modern European capital. This rising has led to resurgence in the arts, full of endless museums, theatres, and galleries. Theatre is particularly strong with the Berliner Philharmonie concert hall gracing the skies along with the Picture Gallery housing European paintings from the 12th to 18th centuries. Nightlife is extraordinary as well, with venues available to every crowd. From festivals to the massive Love Parade in July, Berlin is going all-out with its rebirth.
Getting There / Reaching the City:
Berlin has no shortage of international airports, with three: Tegel, Tempelhof, and Schoenefeld. Tegel is the largest and serves more than 10 million passengers each year and is accessible by virtually every major destination possible in Europe and overseas. Berlin also has the biggest train station in Europe with domestic and international destinations. Berlin’s Central Bus Station can take you throughout Germany and across Europe.
Sights You Can’t Miss:
- Potsdamer Platz: This square represents everything the ‘New Berlin’ has to offer and was started after the Berlin Walls fall in 1989. Around the Potsdamer Platz lies a fantastic mix of shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, cinemas, theaters, and even a casino. The square boasts an impressive 22 story building designed by Renzo Piano, holding a neat atrium. Right next door is one of Germany’s largest shopping malls. The latest addition to the Potsdamer Platz is the Sony Center, with comes with seven buildings surrounding an arena that holds a film museum. For breathtaking, panoramic views of the city, head on over to the Hollhoff building which has one of the fastest elevators in the world.
- Hamburger Bahnhof: Arguably Berlin’s finest art gallery, the esteemed Hamburger Bahnhof has been restored to feature some impressive art collection pieces, including works from Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Josephy Bueys. In addition, it holds a private collection by Marx. Exhibitions change year around. On a lesser scale, there are some Italian works and minimalist art as well. Admission is 8 euros, with free admission to children under 16.
- Brandenburg Gate: The Brandenburg Gate remains Berlin’s lone city gate that separates the East and West. This gate features a beautiful statue of the Goddess of Victory towering over the city from the East. With its close proximity to city traffic along with the Pariser Platz, a small square that used to be surrounded by buildings destroyed in World War II, it is a sight to behold.
Accommodation in Berlin:
- Westin Grand Hotel – This hotel is one of the finest in the country, with a contemporary style and plenty of guest rooms overlooking the city plus suites to die for. Expect to pay as low as 140 for a double during the off season and up to 500 euro for an apartment suite.
- Brandenburger Hof/Relaus and Chateaux Hotel – This hotel lies right in the heart of the city. Expect to pay up to 290 for a double and 460 euro for a suite according to the season.
Suggested 3 Day Berlin Itinerary:
- Day 1: Visit some of the high octane tourist attractions, like the Potsdamer Platz, Hamburger Bahnhof, and the Brandenburg Gate.
- Day 2: Catch events! If you’re in Berlin during the right times, catch these:
Berlin International Film Festival: This festival ranks as one of the top events in the film word. World renowned filmmakers show their films against the likes of competitors, all vying for a top prize. There are tons of film screenings given during this time along with filmmaking workshops and a chance for young directors to screen short films during festivities. The event will be held from February 7 to February 17 in 2008. For more information, visit www.berlinale.de
Christopher Street Day: The Christopher Street Day is a gay price parade that attributes its beginnings to the Christopher Street parade in New York City. To celebrate gay and lesbian life, there are massive street parties taking place through Pride Week (June 16-24, 2007) with the actual parade on July 23, 2007. Expect a super colorful festival with thousands and thousands of people. Even straights are invited! For more information, visit www.csd-berlin.de
- Day 3: Legoland Discovery Center: The recently opened Legoland Discovery Center is the first and only indoor lego stadium in the world and is a creative haven for children, with a fun factory that features lego brick making, a 4-D cinematic show, and a chance for visitors to create their own lego pieces. There is also a ride named Miniland Berlin within. Admission is 14.50 euro for adults and 11 euro for children. Visit www.legolanddiscoverycentre.com for more information.