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Berlin is a city with a very moved history. It was the focus point of the East-West division during the cold-war, but after the wall fell and east and west Germany got reunited massive construction efforts have erased most memories of that period. A clear difference between the eastern and western parts of the city can still be seen though; especially in the outskirts the difference is huge. In the west of the city buildings are in good shape and well taken care of, but in the eastern part, the mismanagement of the past is still very visible. Apart from this, Berlin is a sparkling vibrant city with lots of thing to do and see.

To fully enjoy Berlin you have to know a little of its past. The area has been inhabited since medieval times and has since been an important strategic, cultural and economic place. It has always been a place of industrial development and cultural and intellectual spirit. German's capital has been devastated several times, because of different wars including the Thirty Years' War and WW II. Despite of this there are still enough monuments left to make Berlin well worth a visit. If you're not into culture or architecture there are always the numerous terraces, cafés, bars and nightclubs to keep you going.

Berlin lies on the Spree River that cuts it virtually in half. The municipal area includes beautiful parks and forests, lands treasured by west-Berliners during the years of the cold-war. A good focus point in the city center is the Fernsehturm (TV tower), that can be seen from almost anywhere. The main street in the city center is Unter der Linden that lies between the Brandenburger Tor (west of the Tor the avenue is called Strasse des 17. Juni) and the Schlossbrücke (east of this bridge the avenue continues to Alexanderplatz and beyond as K.-Liebknecht-strasse) Many of the city's museums are located on or in the direct surroundings of this avenue. The Schlossbrücke connects the city with Museuminsel in the Spree, the original center of the metropolis. To the west of the Brandenburg Gate, a massive park called Tiergarten provides space to relax after running around the busy city. In the center of this park you can see the Siegessäule (the Victory Column). The Reichstag lies at the eastern edge of the park, close to the Brandenburger Tor. On the west of Tiergarten you can visit the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-kirche, Germany's main monument to remember the victims of WWII. Accommodation is mostly concentrated around the area west of Tiergarten and north of the Central Business District, but you will find places to stay in other areas as well. The are several camping ground in the outskirts of Berlin, but they all have good bus or metro connections to the city center.

Places to Visit

Brandenburger Tor

The Brandenburger Tor was built in 1791 by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans, as a symbol of peace. Later, a winged victory goddess and four-horse chariot were placed on top of it, turning it into a showpiece of Prussian might. The goddess and her steeds were removed by Napoleon in 1806 and brought to Paris, but later they were returned. The Tor has been the center of rallies and processions until 1961. In that year the wall was erected and access to the Tor prohibited. The Brandenburger Tor stood in no-men's land until November 1989 when the border between the two Germanys was reopened and the wall taken down. Nowadays pieces of the wall are being sold in numerous stalls around the Tor, but if you didn't chop your own bit of wall in 1989, don't buy them, as there is little change the pieces sold today are authentic.

Deutscher/Französischer Dom

This church lies south of Unter den Linden. It has copper domes and is one of the few structures that survived WWII virtually unharmed.


This TV-tower has a restaurant and viewing-platform at the top, that provides excellent views over the city. It is located close to Alexanderplatz, but is it very easy to find as it dominates central Berlin's skyline.


A shopping mall that has a unique liquid-and-glass-pipes clock inside. The device will keep you focused for hours.


Bombed by the British in late 1943, this church was left in its state of ruin. A modern concrete and blue stained glass tower was erected next to it. It is a weird monument to remember victims of WWII, but it's worth a visit as it features some fine work by Chagall.


Kreuzberg, South of west Berlin's CBD, is Germany's cradle of trendy anarchists. It's a very lively area where Turkish immigrants owe great cafés. There are interesting bookshops and an underground art and music scene. The punk movement has its own bronze statue on a prominent street corner.


Kurfürstendamm is the main street if you want to go on a shopping spree. It runs southwest from the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-kirche. Many good restaurants are situated there.


The Dahlem Museums are several museums, situated on Museuminsel. The better part of the former Prussian art collection collected by Friedrich the Great can be found here in the Gemäldegallerie. During WWII all the art was evacuated and spread all over the country. After the war Germany divided and the art collection stayed in the western part of the country. The Gemäldegallerie has an exhibition of old paintings, sculpture, ethnographical exhibits and Indian, Oriental and Islamic art. It is one of the best museums in the world.
Several other museums are located on Museum Insel, such as Altes Museum, Bode-Museum, Nationalgalerie and Pergamonmuseum.

Other interesting museums that are situated in other parts of the city include: Ägyptisches Museum, that exhibits Egyptian artifacts; Antikenmuseum; Berlinische Galerie; Bröhän Museum; Deutsches Historisches Museum im Zeughaus; Kunstgewerbemuseum; Museum für Verkehr und Technic, a technical museum; Neue Nationalgalerie and Staatliche Kunsthalle Berlin.

The Checkpoint Charlie Museum lies near former Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing point between the two Germanys that was demolished after the wall fell. The museum shows the history of the wall as well as a display of all sorts of ingenious devices people have used to escape the former East Germany, resulting in 80 deaths altogether. Checkpoint Charly Museum is very very overpriced (actually it's a rip-off!). Just west of the museum a chunk of wall is preserved as a memory of the dark past.


Southwest of Berlin, straddling the Havel River, lies Potsdam. Thios town has been residence of German leaders and other important people ever since the 17th century. All of them built palaces and castles that excelled in grandeur and excellence. Friedrich the Great liked the French way of expressing grandeur and stateliness so much, that he built Schloss Sanssouci in the mid-18th century as an exaggerated copy of a French castle. The mansion of Wilhelm II, used by the Allies in July 1945 to determine what should happen with a defeated and devastated Germany in the famous Potsdam Conference, can also be visited.


Since the German government moved back from Bonn to Berlin, the Reichstag has regained its original function as Parliament Building. It has been thoroughly reconstructed and a futuristic glass and steel dome has been placed on top of it. It lies close to the Brandenburger Tor on the Spree river east of Tiergarten.

Schloss Charlottenburg

Schloss Charlottenburg lies west of Tiergarten and is a castle in the style of Versailles.

Stasi Headquarters

The Stasi was the former German Democratic Republic's secret police force. Their headquarters lies in the gray East Berlin suburbs and can be visited. There is not much to see, but it is interesting because of what went on in here during the cold-war. The Stasi used to have a huge network of full-time staff, part-time informers numbering in the millions and average East-Germans informing on fellow citizens. The Stasi infiltrated East German life so thoroughly that people used to be afraid to express themselves freely even within their own family.


Tiergarten is the huge central park area situated between the Brandenburger Tor and the Hochshule der Künste, the art-university. Inside this area you will find the Congress Halls, Siegessäaule (the Victory Column) and Berlin's Zoo including a fantastic aquarium.


There are several papers available in Berlin that give information on cultural events. The most important ones are Checkpoint (in English), Tip and Zitty (both in German). There are several operas in Berlin, including Deutsche Oper Berlin to the west; and Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin to the east of Tiergarten. Schedules can be obtained from the theatres directly as well as from the Berlin Programm; an information monthly on opera and musicals.

Cinemas can be found in complexes near the Zoo station west of Tiergarten and along Kurfürstendamm. As on German TV most foreign productions are dubbed, into German; if you prefer the original version, check for the 'O.m.U' sign which indicates that the film is subtitled. Nightlife starts really late in Berlin, so don't go to a disco before midnight as it will be empty. Most clubs can be found in the CDB. In the eastern part of the city the parties start a little earlier. Around Alexanderplatz and Prenzlauer Berg, north of it, many alternative cafés and clubs can be found.

Fidel Crest

Miscellaneous Information

Latitude:    52 27 N
Longitude: 13 18 E
Elevation:  57 m (187 ft.)

Population: 3,500,000
Cost-of-living compared to Washington D.C.: 137%

Hours from UTC: 2
Daylight savings time: Late March through late October

City phone code: 30
Country phone code: 49

Average Weather Patterns

January-0.8°C (30.6°F)4.8 cm (1.89 in)
April8.1°C (46.6°F)4.3 cm (1.69 in)
July18.1°C (64.6°F)7.9 cm (3.11 in)
October8.9°C (48°F)4.3 cm (1.69 in)

Current Weather

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