Berlin, Larger Than Life
Berlin, what can you tell us?
In the German capital, recent historical events in Germany (and in the world) endure in the collective memory and also in different types of art, monuments or memorials. Almost everywhere we are able to find many places that can carry us to the troubled 20th Century, since World War I to the end of the Nazi regime or the fall of the famous wall that was built in 1961 and which divided the city until 1989.
In order to recall the famous division and bring to light its effects on the country, on the city and on the soul of Berlin’s population, the Berlin Wall Memorial was created right in the Bernauer Strasse (near the North Station). It is an open-air museum where we can see part of the remains of the wall, as well as photographs and explanatory texts about the events. This space also houses a watchtower and a documentation centre.
Several other parts of the wall are still standing and remain well preserved in spaces that are authentic cultural references in the city. The East Side Gallery is one of the best examples. It is one of the largest outdoor art galleries in the world and you can easily find it on the Mühlenstraße, next to the Warschauer Strasse metro station.
It has a huge symbolic and emotional value and it is one of the places Germans have the most respect for. In fact, it represents the beginning of the great change, as well as the renewal of the city and its opening to the world. It was precisely in this fraction of the wall that many artists came together to express through their art their great desire to achieve freedom. Since then, it has remained one of the German capital’s major tourist attractions. You should know that visiting it can be a truly moving experience.
There is another spot where the division of the German territory is well documented — the Museum of the famous Checkpoint Charlie border post (name that Allied Forces gave to this milestone of the separation between East and West). If you are into spy films, you may have seen this post portrayed on the big screen.
And if in Berlin we can learn more about the events related to the wall that divided the Humanity, we can also recall the heavy shadow of the two world wars, particularly the second one along with the resulting Holocaust which horrified the world. A visit to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (located in the very heart of the city) can truly be a very emotional experience, but is also a way to honor the victims of one of the darkest moments in the recent History.
On the Wings of Art
Berlin lives in many songs. From Leonard Cohen to David Bowie or Lou Reed, the city (clear or indecipherable) has been a pure inspiration for memorable melodies and lyrics or even for great albums which have reached a kind of an eternal status.
It is the city of arts. It creates the new artistic trends, welcomes a lot of different visions from artists around the world and it actively promotes the coexistence of all these artistic perspectives. It has a spontaneous vibration and a promising dynamic around the act of creating.
Contemporary art lives in a privileged place in order to grow and to be extensively shared. There are museums and galleries which house all kinds of modern artistic manifestations, ranging from the simplest to the most eccentric. The Hamburger Bahnhof Museum is a good example. You can find it in a former train station and it offers you an exciting journey through the different contemporary art movements.
If you like surrealist experiences, next to the famous Charlottenburg Palace you will be able to find the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg Museum, whose three floors are entirely dedicated to the wonderful world of surrealism.
The Klingelhöferstraße, a recently renovated building, houses the renowned Bauhaus Archive which is, as we all know, a truly global reference when it comes to the revolution in art, architecture or industrial design.
In Berlin it looks like the museums and art galleries multiply as we explore the city. There is even an island that brings 5 museums together in the same area: the Museum Island (located in the Mitte neighborhood), one of the most important attractions in the city tours around Berlin. In this very particular and arty island (and UNESCO World Heritage site) you will find very important museums such as the Old Museum (Altes Museum), the New Museum (Neus Museum), the Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie), the Pergamon Museum (Pergamonmuseum) and the Bode Museum (Bode-Museum).
Between forests, gardens and canals
There is also quiet in exciting Berlin. Not surprising, since half of the city has parks, gardens, lakes and forests. This green and peaceful side of the city offers a sense of a well-deserved tranquility right in the heart of the everyday hustle and bustle of one of Europe’s most agitated capitals. In the Summer, these green spaces are full with people having picnics, going for long walks or practicing all kind of healthy sports. In the Winter, we can see them covered with white, resembling the most beautiful fairytale scenarios.
There are many green spaces to choose from, however we suggest a few that you should include in your itinerary: start with the obvious and go to the oldest and most central park in the city — the Tiergarten Park which is also the largest public park in Berlin. It is the perfect place to take rest or to take an adorable small rowing boat. It also houses the famous Victory Columm, the Soviet War Memorial, the Bellevue Palace (the actual residence of the German President) and the City Zoo, one of the most visited in Europe.
Kreuzberg, the neighborhood that never sleeps
And one of the most famous and alternative neighborhoods of the German capital. It truly represents (in its essence) the transformation of the city and its openness to the world and to the future. It is located on the banks of the river Spree and it is also surrounded by the post-war architecture. It has many faces and around here it is very easy to walk through different and exciting realities, by day or by night.
It has an avant-garde, challenging, bohemian, artistically vivid and very dynamic identity. Its traits remember the punk imagery and, around here, art flourishes through several interesting artistic expressions which decorate the streets and walls, giving one the feeling of visiting an open air gallery. It is a privileged meeting point for thinkers, artists, musicians, writers, idealists or just curious people eager to absorb experiences. In this place, both light and deeper conversations take place in cafés, bars, restaurants or even on the street corners packed with people coming from everywhere.
It is also one of the symbols of the new Berlin, always with arms wide open to different communities, cultures and ways of life. Today the city culturally multiplies and, besides offering so many different experiences, it also gives us that beautiful feeling that the world needs to be connected.