In 2017 we finally have the opportunity to visit Berlin again. Although much is still being built, the large construction sites with their pink lines have disappeared and many new cultural centres and shopping malls have been created. We are already curious about what we will discover.
First, we visit the Filmpark at Babelsberg / Potsdam. A nice area, which is worth a visit, especially with children. Don't start at 10 o'clock when the Park opens because most shows are held in the afternoon.
We already know the KadeWe (Department store of the West). New is the Bikini Berlin, a beautiful shopping center directly behind the memory church with a view of the zoo.
In Friedrichshain, a flea market takes place in the old RAW area. The semi-decayed area is now revitalized by bars, pubs and a bath-house. In the surrounding area, there are many nice bars, restaurants and cafes (for example the Kuchenrausch, in which we have a great breakfast).
The Prenzlauer Berg is still worth a visit. We walk past the Wasserturm to Senefelder Platz, then continue to Kulturbrauerei. Here a street food market takes place, and we can not resist the many delicacies.
In wonderful summer weather, we make the 7 lakes boat-trip which starts at Wannsee. A wonderful region, and thanks to the captain's many explanations, we learn a lot of what happened here in the area (for example, the exchange of agents on the Glienicke Bridge during the Cold War, or the Wannsee Conference of 1942).
Berlin has so many sights that it is difficult to decide what to see first. Usually there is not enough time for all the interesting cultural and leisure offers. In addition, the city is constantly changing, so you can always find something new.
After spending almost two years living here during the time when the Berlin Wall still stood, it is exciting for me to see the former eastern part in 2001. It is already a very special feeling to be able to walk through the Brandenburg Gate for the first time, which is now a symbol of German unity instead of a memorial of the division. Completed in 1791, it was only one of many old city gates around the small Berlin at that time. In front of the gate, the Paris Square was built, which still contains many important buildings of the city - such as the historic Hotel Adlon or the Academy of Fine Arts.
In 1793, the Quadriga, designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow, was placed on the gate. The plastic was taken down three times over time. After the defeat of Prussia in 1806, Napoleon carried it to Paris. But by the victory of the alliance, it could be retrieved eight years later and put up at its old destination.
The longest preserved wall section, which is integrated into the Berlin Wall Memorial, is located on Bernauer Street. Another segment is on the exhibition grounds of the Topography of Terror in Niederkirchner Street. This 200-meter-long piece of the Berlin Wall was put under monument protection in 1990. A third part of the boundary wall is still in Liesenstraße in Berlin Mitte.
The television tower at Alexander’s Square is one of the most famous landmarks of the city and with 368 meters the tallest building in Germany. It was built in the 1960s and offers a unique 360 ° panorama view over the city.
The Alexander’s Square, called Alex by locals, has always been a place of historical events. Thus, during the March Revolution in 1848, heavy street fighting ensued. But here, too, peaceful demonstrations took place, for example against the GDR regime in the autumn of 1989, just before the fall of the Wall. Also worth seeing are the world clock and the fountain of international friendliness.
Very impressive is the Reichstag with its imposing glass dome. From the roof terrace you can have a wonderful view of the hustle and bustle in the city. Around the Reichstag there are many government buildings such as the Federal Chancellery.
Important historical events are connected with the Reichstag building. Thus in 1918, the republic was called out of the balcony at the Westportal. On the evening of February 27, 1933, the conflagration of the Reichstag occurred. In which the plenary hall and the dome were completely destroyed. In 1945 a red flag of the Soviet Union was hoisted, which symbolized the victory over the Third Empire.
The Potsdam Square is a place of superlatives in the middle of Berlin on the former border strip. Before the Second World War, it was the busy centre of the city, between 1945 and 1989 it was no man's land. After 1989 it has completely changed. It was rebuilt and planned as a whole city district by architects. The masterplan was designed by Renzo Piano and Christoph Kohlbecker. The Sony Center, skyscrapers and countless shops characterize the square today.
The Hackesche Courts are the largest enclosed courtyard area in Germany. The eight connected courtyards were renovated in 1993 for 80 million marks and invite you to stroll through the many shops, galleries, restaurants and clubs.
The Hackesche Market is a lively neighbourhood. Already from the beginning of the 1990s, many artists, designers and craftsmen settled in the dilapidated houses. Today you find mainly designer stores, flagship stores and small, owner-managed factories.
In the immediate vicinity of Friedrich Street, which is an exclusive shopping street in Berlin-Mitte, one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin is located, the Gendarmenmarkt. With the concert hall designed by Schinkel, as well as the German Cathedral and the French Cathedral, there are three architectural highlights of the capital.
The Museum Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, houses the most important exhibition sites, like the Old Museum, the New Museum, the Bode Museum, the Pergamon Museum and the Old National Gallery. The houses represent over 6,000 years of art and cultural history with their collections.
The Bauhaus Archive is also very interesting. This museum of design has the world's largest collection of the history of the Bauhaus (1919-1933), the most important school of architecture, design and art of the 20th century. In a building designed by Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, the Berlin Bauhaus Institution presents design key works of his collection and explores the history and impact of the Bauhaus as an international research centre. The Bauhaus Archive is not part of the Museum Island, it is located in Berlin-Tiergarten.
Nearby are also the Sea Life and the Aqua Dom, which is the largest, free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world. It consists of a 16-meter-high acrylic glass vessel with a diameter of 11.5 meters.
The most famous promenade in the city is the Kurfürstendamm, also called Kudamm.
The street was built in the middle of the 16th century as a riding path for the electors in Grunewald. At the request of Otto von Bismarck the Kurfürstendamm was founded in 1886: a 53-meter-wide boulevard with theatres, cafes and shops, according to the French model.
At the Kurfürstendamm old and new architecture fit together almost seamless. Behind the famous Café Kranzler, the new Kranzler-Eck was built at the end of the last century. In 2012 the Zoo Window was opened: a 118-meter high building between Memorial Church, Kant Street and Station Zoo. The luxury Hotel Waldorf-Astoria Berlin is designed by architect Christoph Mäckler.
The most famous landmark of Berlin-West is the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheid Square. During the Second World War, it was severely damaged. The corpus of the tower, about 68 meters high, was preserved as a memorial against the war and was supplemented by a four-part building complex. These include the octagonal church ship, the hexagonal bell tower, the square chapel and the foyer. After almost four years of construction, the church was inaugurated on 17 December 1961. For the two modern buildings, the locals quickly found the right terms "lipstick and powder can".
The Globe Fountain is a water game right in front of the Europe-Center on the Breitscheid Square and also for it the locals have found their own name – it’s called Wasserklops.