“Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is “Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words “Ich bin ein Berliner!” John F Kennedy, 1963
Berlin is an artistic and multicultural city with an equally eclectic and layered history. War-torn and divided for 30 years by a wall that caused immeasurable suffering and hardship, Berlin has developed a substantial underground culture that continues to thrive even after the Wall’s destruction. The fraught history of the city is evident and palpable at some of its most provoking sites. This city today is as modern as any, and therefore most sites are easily accessible via U-Bahn (underground train), tram or bus. To really explore the diversity, history and cultural mosaic of the city be sure to contact a Berlin based CityPal.
Visiting Checkpoint Charlie, one can imagine what life was like when residents were divided by the Berlin Wall prior to 1991. Next to the checkpoint is the Berlin Wall memorial. A short walk away is the Brandenburg Gate, which was at one point a part of the wall. It was originally constructed in 1791 by order of Prussian King Frederick William II. At present, it presents a grand entrance to Unter den Linden Boulevard.
Located close by is the Reichstag which houses Germany’s Parliament. A modular building nicknamed the ‘Washing Machine’ is also located in the same complex, and contains the office of Germany’s Chancellor. Reichstag tours are available and encouraged – the building is an engineering marvel. The sobering Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a short walk away. Its stark design encourages meditation, quiet and reflection on Germany’s dark, unforgettable past.
For the cultural set, the city’s Museuminsel, or Museum Island, is a must-see. Berlin boasts some of Europe’s most spectacular art collections, containing art and historical artifacts from all over the ancient and modern world. But art isn’t confined within museum walls – if you have time, wander around the city to sample the extensive collection of street art. The East Side Gallery, for example, is a wonderful place to reflect on the power of the wall that was, while enjoying some of the most beautiful art painted on it before its destruction.
Another iconic site is the Berlin Fernsehturm which towers above the city and provides amazing panoramic views. The tickets to the top are pricey, but the view and the experience are worth it for those who want an amazing city view served with cocktails.
Berlin is absolutely chock-full of incredible culinary experiences. Highlights include Mogg, a modern take on the Kosher style deli, Shiso Burger with its mouth-watering Wagyu burgers, and a variety of foodie tours to satisfy every taste and craving. And of course, no trip to Berlin is complete without a taste of the city’s most famous snack, currywurst. Some of the best is served at Curry 61.
Curry 61 Berlin – One of the best places to get stuffed with Currywurst. In terms of nightlife, there truly are no limits, except your own imagination. The Kit Kat Club is a legend, but not for the faint of heart – there are no rules, and no photos allowed inside. Speakeasies also abound in this town – Buck and Breck is a particular favorite.
Berlin is a cultural and historical fascination. It is irresistible and accessible, painfully cool and yet welcoming. Every kind of person can find something wonderful to do in this city. Its undying hope is guaranteed to inspire and humble you.