Founded in the 12th century, the city was separated into two, as East and West Berlin, by the Berlin Wall, aka Wall of Shame in 1961. In 1990, after the decision to reunite was made by the two German governments, the Berlin wall was destroyed and the two sides of the city returned to existing as one. After such dark days Berlin has been reborn from its ashes and succeeded in transforming into a European tourist hub.
Berlin is a blend mixing old and new, museums, green fields and parks, examples of old and new architecture styles and cosmopolitan life style, and day by day it’s becoming a more and more engaging destination for tourists. The average temperature in summer is 22°C-25°C, in spring 14°C-18°C and in winter falling to 4°C-5°C. That’s why the high season to visit Berlin is during June, July and August.
Berlin has a very well organized subway network, which makes transportation relatively easy. If you plan to use public transportation, buy a pass for multiple uses (Berliner Pass) according to the duration of your stay. And here’s another tip to gain you some time, to visit the dozens of museums located in Berlin, buy the tickets online instead of waiting in the queues.
It’s hard to say that Berlin has an authentic cuisine. If you want to try some specialty peculiar to Berlin, I’d recommend the Berliner, it’s a pastry you may have heard about at some chain coffee shops or bakeries, and it’s something you should try in its homeland. Besides from that, you can find delicacies peculiar to Germany in Berlin, just like any other city in Germany.
Now I’ve given you some general information, I can list my recommendations about where to go, and which museum to visit.
It’s become so identified with Berlin that we can call it the main symbol of the city. The 12 columned gate was built between 1788 and 1791 and it forms five passageways. Ordinary people could use the two side gates whereas the one in the middle is for royalty and important people. Atop the gate there is Quadriga. Quadriga means a chariot drown by four horses. This statue atop the gate has also had its share of the chaotic history of the city. After the 1806 Prussia defeat, Napoleon detached the statue from its place and took it to Paris. After Napoleon’s defeat in 1814, Quadriga was returned to Berlin by the Prussian General Ernst con Pfuel. But the goddess was equipped with an iron cross instead of an olive branch. Today, most of the celebrations and attractions related with the whole city take place around this gate.
The Parliament building. When the construction of one of the most important buildings in Berlin was over in 1894, its appearance was much different from today. Its original stone dome was destroyed in 1945. After surviving a big fire, it was renovated, without its stone dome, between 1961 and 1971. After the huge and impressive glass dome was erected on the roof, the Reichstag obtained today’s appearance. It’s on the north of Brandenburg Gate. The symbol of the Reichstag, the glass dome, was designed by the famous British architect Sir Norman Foster. The dome, which can be visited with a reservation taken ahead of time, has a panoramic view of the city. You can reach the online booking request form with this link.
Located on Ku’damm, it is a protestant church which opened its door to the public in 1895. It’s one of the symbols of West Germany. Like lots of building that witnessed the Nazi period, it got its share of war scars, after an air raid on November 23, 1943, the church was irreparably damaged and burned. There has been a lot of conflict over the winner of the renovation project competition in 1957 because according to the renovation project, the church had to be completely demolished. But at the end of the day, it was agreed that the main tower of the church, which was considered as a symbol of German nationalism would remain as a monument against war. This way the visitors today can see the destruction caused by the war with their own eyes. Just beside the church a modern belfry has been added.
One of the symbols of Berlin, the cathedral, was destroyed completely by damage incurred during World War II raids and was partially renovated. After two or three renovations it has taken the appearance that you will see today. The cathedral is a magnificent building, and, as such, deserves a place at the top of the must-see lists.
When the construction ended, the length of the tower was 365 meters, but with the change of the antenna in 1990 it became 3 meters longer and it is now 368 meters long. It’s the highest building in Germany and the fourth highest in Europe. The visitor’s platform is 204 meters high above the ground and visibility reaches 42 kilometers on a clear day.
This is one of the checkpoints that guarded crossings between the east and west of Berlin after the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. It’s the crossing point the Allied forces, families of the ambassadors, and the representatives of both sides of Germany used between 1961 and 1990. Today the booth is kept there symbolically and the actors dressed as American soldiers are quite an interesting sight. The original booth is right now exhibited in the Allied Museum. The posters around Checkpoint Charlie try to represent how a couple of times the American and Soviet forces briefly faced each other during the Cold War Era and how close we were to a third world war.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my article, Berlin has so many museums that you could even call it “the city of museums.” The little island on the Spree River, which was turned into an island of museums accommodating 5 museums, is the best example of how important museums are for Berlin. Those worldwide famous museums are Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Bode Museum and Pergamon Museum. I especially recommend for the Turkish tourist to visit Pergamon Museum which may interest them very much.
Central squares, which are the center of life in the metropolis, are something you’ll encounter a lot in Berlin. The most famous of these squares is Alexanderplatz. The square with the Television Tower is a common spot where all the Berliners meet, and one of the essential centers of the city. Postdamer Platz is another big and important square. Sony Center where you can have an unusual experience is also located in Postdamer Square and this square is also a must see in Berlin.