Berlin – as one of Europe’s leading cultural centres – offers the visitors a variety of museums, historic sites, and landmarks still standing as a reminder of the destruction during World War II and of its history as a divided city.
Orientating yourself in Berlin isn’t difficult at all. Berlin has three prominent landmarks:
the Gedächtniskirche (Church of Remembrance), located on the Kurfürstendamm in the West, the Brandenburger Tor in the city district of Mitte, and the Fernsehturm (TV- tower) at Alexanderplatz in the East. Round and about these three points of interest lie the inner districts of Berlin.
This 365-meter high tower for television and ultra-short-wave transmissions, built 1965-1969, is one of the evidences of the Cold War and now sign of the reunited city. It is one of the highest buildings in Europe. The head on the tower contains an observation platform at a height of 203 meters and a restaurant with a marvellous view over the city centre.
Berlin Town Hall
The Rote Rathaus (got its name because of its colour – it was not meant as a political allusion) was build between 1861-1869 according to the North Italian renaissance. Nowadays the mayor and government of Berlin have their office there.
The history of the Berlin Dom – also known as the New Church – started in the 15th century. It was used as the court church and cathedral of the Hohenzollern dynasty. The today’s cathedral was built 1894-1905 by order of Kaiser Wilhelm II as a protestant answer to the St. Peter. During the WW II the cathedral was seriously damaged and after a temporary protection it was restored from 1975-1993.
The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s only remaining city gate, is the most known towns landmark and also symbol of the division and reunion of the city. It was situated in the no man’s land just behind the wall and reopened after the Fall of the Wall on December 22, 1989. The sandstone construction, built from 1788-91 to plans by C.G. Langhans, has 12 Doric columns and is based on the propylaeum of the Acropolis in Athens.
Column of victory
The Column of victory as a sign for the victory Prussia’s over Denmark, Austria and France in the late 19th century was primary situated at the Koenigsplatz (now the Platz der Republik near the Reichstag). During the Third Reich a fourth column drum was added and it was brought to the Grosser Stern. Now it is 69 m high and on top there is the Goddess of Victory (people call her “Goldelse”). You have a nice view around the centre of Berlin from the observation deck.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
In 1891-95, in a new-Romanesque style, the original Gedächtniskirche was built to honour the memory of Kaiser Wilhelm I and represented a symbol of the era of the German Empire. During the Second World War, the church was heavily damaged but not completely destroyed. The remaining ruins reminded the local population about the bombings of the war and were transformed into a small museum and into a memorial. In 1961-63, next to the church, the high six-sided bell tower and the flat eight-sided main building were built. The old tower ruins serve today as a church museum and a remembrance hall for peace and reconciliation.
This castle – the largest of the Berlin Hohenzollern castle – was built 1695-99 as a summer residence for Kurfürstin Sophie Charlotte. In 1943 the castle was heavily damaged in a bombing attack, and after the Second World War, it was rebuilt. Today the Belvedere (the former teahouse) is used as a exposition hall for the history of royal porcelain manufacture. In the former theatre the museum for Pre- and Early History is situated with its famous exhibits of Schliemann’s finding of Troja.
The Reichstag is a very important site in German history – its colourful past reflects the turbulence of German history since the 19th century. The Reichstag was constructed from 1884-94 by Paul Wallot, since a representative building was needed to house the parliament of the newly-founded German state. On 9 November 1918, the politician Philipp Scheidemann announced the establishment of the Republic from one of its windows. After the war, the devastated building was rebuilt in a simplified form from 1961-1971, but it was not used for parliamentary functions. After reunification, the German Federal Government decided to use the building as a parliament once again. From 1994-1999 the Reichstag was reconstructed and extended by the Architect Sir Norman Forster Since 1999 the Reichstag is home to the Bundestag (the lower Parliament).
The Berlin Wall was originally one hundred miles long and was constructed by the Communist government of the former east. All that is left today are a few sections of the wall near the Ostbahnhof and the Reichstag. These sections have been preserved to remind Berliners of the 28-year division of their city. The remnants of the Berlin Wall now serve as an outdoor gallery of art from local and city artists.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons.