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Tourist Places To Visit In Berlin
Berlin is a city condemned forever to becoming and never being. This ever evolving paradise of history and tragedy and art and culture attracts tourists like nectar does to bees. With its holocaust memorials and World War II sites, palaces and ancient cathedrals, Berlin Wall remains and political graffitis painting idle sides, Berlin shows so so many places. Here’s a list of its best so far.
Brandenburg Gate was built back in the 18th Century and is the only city gate of Berlin that has survived all the wars and bloodshed and tragedies that befell Berlin ever-since. Located on the western side of the city, Brandenburg Gate opens into the Unter den Linden, one that was used as a protest ground as well as celebration place when the Berlin Wall fell in ’89. The damage to the gate from World War II has been repaired and today it stands tall, proud, reminiscent of its strength to survive the past.
The German Parliament, Reichstag building is a historic landmark that was destroyed during the second World War air raids. The building didn’t see restoration until after the Berlin Wall collapsed and the city reunited. The building today is the seat of German Government but still bears the graffiti of Soviet soldiers proudly like battle scars. You must visit the glass dome at the top to get a marvellous view of Berlin from up there.
The Holocaust Memorial, near Brandenburg Gate, is a simple yet glorious tribute to the Jews who were slaughtered during the Nazi regime. There are a total of 2711 grey concrete slabs set int the ground, rippling out in a wave-like pattern, over a landscape of 205,000 sq. ft. The slabs are not of the same height either, and the paths cutting through each undulate and turn without any pattern, creating a kind of peaceful chaos as you navigate it. At the base of the memorial you will find planks worth of information and personal stories, most so sad that they break your hearts over and over.
East Side Gallery
Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and yet there are long stretches of the wall still etched onto the heart of Berlin, like long scars. The East Side Gallery is one of them, the longest of them in fact. It is now called a memorial for freedom as artists from around the world flew down to Berlin over these years and painted parts of this wall, some with world peace messages, others with rebellious quotes, some with political satire and recently others with mental health and self-help portraits. The artwork painting and graffiti making began back in the 90s and documents the evolution of messages that have been left on this open-air gallery.
A collection of museums, the Museum Island is situated between Spree River and Kupfergraben. These old buildings that now house numerous museums had been shattered during the world wars and rebuilt recently. You can make a day out of museum hopping, going through some nice ones like the Altes Museum (Romand and Greek artefacts), Alte Nationalgalerie (sculptures), Nues Museum (prehistoric Egyptian remains) and Pergamon Museum (Babylonian and Greek civilisation displays).
Check Point Charlie
Check Point Charlie is one of the only surviving cross points on the Berlin Wall, renowned for evoking deep emotions about its history and tragedy. It belongs to the Western Bloc and was named for its border crossing station. There is a signboard beside that reads ‘You are leaving the American Sector.’ This is the place where, before ’89, Allied came into contact with the Berliners of the other side. The guardhouse was a check-post too, witnessing many a massacres of people trying to cross over from the Soviet-occupied side.
An uncrowned king of Berlin’s impressive skyline, the Victory Column is one of the most coveted attractions in the city. Also known as Siegessäule, this tall tower-like structure was built at the tail-end of 19th Century to celebrate the victory of the Prussian army. It was initially in front of the Reichstag but the Nazis moved it in the middle of Tiergarten as a part of their urban redevelopment project. You must visit the column for its winged angels and the Roman goddess of victory at the top. You can also climb up the 250+ steps for stunning views.
The Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in the country, located in the Western District of Berlin. This 17th Century monstrosity was built in the Baroque style of architecture and makes for one great tourist attraction. It has gardens and open rooms, sculptures and ancient furniture, royal jewels and porcelain collections, King Frederick’s personal belongings and silverware all thrown open for the eyes of visitors.
Berlin Wall Memorial
Last but by no means the least, visit the Berlin Wall Memorial or the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer. Built in memory of those helpless people who died trying to cross the wall during Cold War, the memorial has much of the real-time information, stories and exhibits from the past. Most of it is in German so either hire a guide or try and pick up a German-English dictionary.