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Berlin - Germany's Cultural Capital

Berlin doesn't need much introduction being a major player in world history over the last century.

After reunification, Berlin once again became the capital and central focus of this great country.

Today the city is home to 3.4 million people and the economic power-house of the European Union.

Central Berlin has changed a lot over the past 20 years embracing a modern style of living and working. Yet you don't have to travel too far to embrace it's cultural history.

Berliners are an open-minded bunch so whatever you do and wherever you come from you're more than likely to receive a warm welcome and an invite to the local bar. They are very proud of their city and what it has achieved in the 21st century - and quite right too.

www.berlin.de/international/index.en.php

Top 5 things to do in Berlin

Bradenberg Gate

Known locally as Brandenburger Tor this is one of the landmark icons in Berlin if not Germany. It is located to the west of the city centre and is the only remaining gate of a series through which Berlin was once entered.

Built for King Frederick William II in 1788-91 by Carl Gotthard Langhans the Elder, the sandstone structure was modeled on the Acropolis of Athens in Greece.

Sitting atop the 26m high gate is the Quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses driven by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory.

As of 2002 most of the area surrounding the gate has been made a pedestrian zone.

berlin.barwick.de/sights/famous-places/brandenburg-gate.html

Reichstag

The Reichstag Building is the traditional seat of the German parliament, an iconic Berlin landmark and of course a very popular tourist destination.

It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag up until the end of the Second World War when it suffered severe bomb and fire damage. The building fell into disuse as Germany and of course Berlin was split into East and West portions.

Partially restored in the 1960's, the Reichstag Building did not receive a full restoration until after the reunification of Germany in the 1990's eventually reopening once again as the official seat of the modern German parliament, the Bundestag.

Various official guided tours are available with some requiring pre-registration due to on-going renovations. See the website for more details.

www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/index.html

Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon Museum, constructed in 1930, is situated on the Museum Island, the northern half of an island in the Spree river in the central Mittle district.

It contains multiple reconstructed immense and historically significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.


Although there is some controversy over the legitimacy of the acquisition of the collection, nonetheless, the museum is visited by approximately 850,000 people every year, making it the most visited art museum in Germany.

Subdivided into the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the museum of Islamic art, the building and it's collections and exhibitions are extensive so be prepared to spend the whole day here.

If you do plan on visiting more museums whilst in Berlin it may be cost effective to purchase a 3-Day-Ticket in advance.

www.smb.museum/smb/home/index.php

Tiergarten

Teirgarten is one of the largest public spaces in Germany at 210 hectares.

Once a hunting ground of the Electors of Brandenburg the Großer Tiergarten park of today was designed in the 1830s and the name translates to Animal Garden.

At its centre the Siegessäule (Victory Column) was erected from which avenues radiate.

After 1944 the park was largely deforested, because it served as a source of firewood for the devastated city. In 1945, the Soviet Union built a war memorial along the Straße des 17. Juni, the Tiergarten's main east-west artery, near the Brandenburg Gate.

There is a mixture of German and Prussian statues, sculptures and monuments within the park from before, during and after the Second World War.

www.european-city-parks.com/berlin/tiergarten/

Charlottenburg Palace

The Schloss Charlottenburg is the largest palace in Berlin.

It was built at the end of the 17th century as a royal residence for the House of Hohenzollern.

The interior of the palace has been described as quite exotic in comparison to others in Germany, showcasing baroque and rococo styles.

Inside the palace was a room described as "the eighth wonder of the world", the Amber Room (Bernsteinzimmer), a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

The large gardens to the rear of the palace were originally designed in 1797, heavily influenced by the gardens at Versailles. They consist of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separate the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens is the Carp Pond.

www.aviewoncities.com/berlin/charlottenburg.htm

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