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Things to Do in Berlin, Germany

Berlin- Modern with a Historically Important Past

Traveling to a lot of the impressive cities of Europe from London, we did not think the things to do in Berlin would measure up to Europe’s other great cities.  But on the advice from many people in London who said it is well worth the trip, we decide to go there.  It is a city extremely easy to navigate, and history, both modern and from the time of Frederick the Great make it very interesting from that point of view.

I’ve chosen four places that should not be missed, but if you do visit Berlin be sure to take a side trip to Potsdam.  It is actually not Berlin proper, but is really a quick trip and has a lot to offer.

Start with Things to Do in Berlin at the Brandenburg Gate

1.    Brandenburg Gate.  Originally constructed as a triumphal arch in 1791, it has had an interesting past.  After Napoleon captured Berlin in 1806 he took the Quadriga statue that rests on top of the arch to Paris.  It was returned in 1814 following his defeat.  As was the majority in the city, it was terribly damaged in the course of World War II, and following renovation saw additional damage in the course of the revelry subsequent to the fall with the Berlin Wall.  Like Big Ben in London or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, it is most likely Berlin’s iconic monument.

2.    Jewish Memorial.  Just south of Brandenburg Gate, this memorial for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust has been quite controversial.  It was opened in 2005, and is a city block of 2711 concrete slabs of varying heights and angles.  You will be allowed to to move through it, and at times you may nearly feel lost within its confines.  At one corner is an underground center for information.

Jewish Memorial, Berlin

3.    Reichstag.  This is currently the Federal German Parliament, called the Bundestag, but in February 17, 1933 it had been gutted by fire.  The Nazis used this as an excuse to suspend basic freedoms.  At the present it is a tourist attraction, and most people would concur the heavy safety measures and long lines is in fact worth the delay to travel to the top.

4.    KaDeWe (shopping).  Not that shopping would be on my list of things to see when visiting such a rich historical locale like Berlin, but some, like Harrods in London, ought to be on your list.  It is the largest department store within continental Europe, and the one thing that help it become an excellent visit will be the truly extraordinary food area.

Remnants from the wall will be located in a few places, and there is a museum that is very interesting farther south from the Gate.  Farther east within a distance you can walk comfortably will be Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known point for crossing between West and East Berlin throughout the cold war.  There now exists a kind of a imitation of what had been a historical location, however it is essentially a tourist trap.

One more place that I discovered that’s quite historically noteworthy is the site of Hitler’s wartime bunker.  It will be a little south from the Jewish Holocaust Memorial, although unless you employ a tour guide you will not locate it, because it goes entirely unmarked.

But speaking of tour guides, it is definitely best if you are new in a city to find one.  We had for a guide a chap from Liverpool who truly knew his stuff, and was really involved.  There wasn’t a fee, and he worked only on tips, which needless to say everyone obliged.  They can tell stories and take you to spots you might not find from your tour book.  We highly recommend searching the web for one before you visit a new city.



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