The capital city of Germany is not only a modern cosmopolitan metropolis, but it also has a strong bond with the XX century. Usually lauded as the symbol of the Cold War, Berlin changed and became an european art and cultural center. Nevertheless, the scars of the dark past remain in several memorials within the “city walls”.
Bearing in mind the vast dimension of Berlin, these are the fifteen places we consider a must-visit, to which we would like to add an extra. Trust us, it is not “just” an extra!
The Reichstag is the parliament of the Deutschen Volke (the German people). Often called Bundestag, it is a major landmark of Berlin’s skyline. Moreover, the building itself played an important role in German’s modern history, soon after the election of Adolf Hitler. Both the roof terrace and the dome open daily and the admission is free. However, we advise you to book online in advance.
Click here to book your tickets.
- Brandenburger Tor
Built in the XVIII century, the Brandenburg Gate is widely recognized as Berlin’s most famous monument. This former city gate has turned into a symbol of peace and unity, after standing in front of the Iron Curtain for decades.
- East Side Gallery
Visiting Berlin and not looking for the Wall does not make any sense. Therefore, taking some time to enjoy the brilliant artistic work in East Side Gallery is mandatory. Several paintings have been admired since the beginning. One of the most iconic is the popular kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker by Dmitri Vrubel.
- Checkpoint Charlie
Nowadays, “You are leaving the American sector” is a smooth warning that we are in Checkpoint Charlie, a sanctuary for tourists in the German capital. However, during the Cold War, this was a border control between West Germany and East Germany.
- Berliner Fernsehturm
Claiming the title of tallest structure in Germany, this television tower is located near Alexanderplatz, in central Berlin. With its height of 368 metres, the Fernsehturm has a visitor platform above 200 metres, providing panoramic views of the city and allowing visitors to witness from the air the difference of what has once been Federal Republic of Germany and Democratic Republic of Germany.
- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial)
Designed by Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold, this memorial is one of the most heartbreaking places in Berlin. Just a block from the Brandenburg Gate, these stones remind us of a graveyard due to its pattern. A quiet landmark, where silence says it all.
- Potsdamer Platz & Sony Center
Potsdamer Platz has been, for centuries, an important intersection in Berlin. If it used to be a trading post and later a gateway to the city, the square is now the site of modern and developing projects, with skyscrapers and the Sony Center, a futuristic complex with shops, restaurants and, of course, Sony’s headquarters in Germany. Taking a walk at night here is the best way to enjoy these two places!
- Berliner Dom & Museum island
Surrounded by the Spree river, the Museum island and the Berliner Dom are essential stops in Berlin. On the one hand, located in the island, the Dom – Berlin Cathedral – was completed in 1905 and, since then, it has been reinaugurated due to war destruction. On the other hand, there island houses several important museums, having already been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Gendarmenmarkt is a restored square, where a concert hall and two churches – the German and French – are located. The original square, which was designed and built in the XVII century, was also a marketplace – today it hosts a Christmas market. It is, arguably, one of the most beautiful squares of Berlin.
- Topographie des Terror
Besides including a fraction of the Wall, the Topographie des Terror is an historic site – nowadays, converted into an exhibition – where were located the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the instituions of Nazi persecution.
Click here for further information.
- Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche
The ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm church are located in the centre of the Breitscheidplatz, whose skyline has been adjusted and now features some high rise buildings. However, the church has never been rebuilt, since it is meant to be a reminder of the World War II and subsequent massive destruction.
- Siegessäule & Tiergarten
Located in a roundabout, known as Großer Stern, in the heart of Tiergarten, the victory column, or Siegessäule, celebrates the military successes of Prussia in the second half of the XIX century, against the Austrians, the Danish and the French. Among the largest parks of Germany, the Tiergarten park borders a few of Berlin’s essential landmarks, as the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial and the Reichstag.
- Karl Marx Allee
Once called Stalinallee, this monumental boulevard recalls the style of a typical Soviet avenue. Wide and long, a walk here turns back time into the era of the Cold War. Later renamed after Karl Marx, it is one of the best examples of the architectonic differences within the limits of Berlin.
Mauerpark is an urban park named after the wall of Berlin. Besides being one of the places where the wall can be spotted, this was part of the Death Strip, an area under constant surveillance. Some observation towers remain in Mauerpark, although it has become a park for leisure activities.
- Rotes Rathaus
Settled near Alexanderplatz and just below the Berlin TV tower, Rotes Rathaus is Berlin’s town hall, as well as home to the Senate of Berlin. It is one of the most acclaimed buildings in the city, due to its façade made of red bricks.
- Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt
Chocolate lovers, are you there? This one is mainly for you! Customize your chocolate bar and get lost in this grown-up and kids chocolate paradise! It is located a few steps away from Gendarmenmarkt!
Click here to knock on chocolate paradise door!
Berlin managed to change the way History was driving the city. The war fear, the people’s tears and the wounds of the past were commonly associated to Berlin.
However, it has become a center of peace, where the errors of the old times are carefully reminded in the streets of a city committed to be a lesson for youth. A lesson of what must not be repeated.