A quick walk from the hostel brings us to the the bank looking onto Museum Island, the entrance to the central museum flooded with visitors. Even if you’re not interested in the museums themselves, the buildings, lined left and right with the river and filled in with green shrubbery and statues, are great for pictures and worth a short detour.
Normally the following would show the iconic Brandenburger Tor from afar…the four pillars topped with the copper cast horse drawn carriage. But with Berlin being a capital city and a cultural hotspot, This area has a tendancy to be a chaos of construction for one event or another. This week it was for the UEFA cup, so unfortunately all we got to see was the close-up view. Regardless, an impressive sight.
Another icon….the television tower. I suppose it makes a good photograph object and a provides a good view of berlin. Personally, I think it provides a great way of not getting lost in the city! Visible for pretty much anywhere, it’s a good point of orientation. As for the good view…..see below for a top tip 😉
I suppose Berlin is just an endless collection of must-sees. For those who – like us – have about two days to see the city, here’s the basics. We essentially spent the first day looking at everything north-east of the Brandenburg gate, and the second day looking at everything on the south-west side of it. As the underground system in Berlin is superb this doesn’t really matter, but it seemed like a good way to see everything on foot.
After a long walk down toward the Brandenburg Gate, just to maneuver our way around the UEFA construction sit by the gate itself, we ended up getting lunch around the corner from the Reichstag.
You can’t really leave Berlin without visiting the Siegessäule – the Victory Column. The famously nicknames Goldelse commemorating the Prussian Victory in the Danish Prussian war has become a key icon for Berlin.
To get a break from the busy city we headed off from the Siegessäule for a walk in the Tiergarten, the urban park to reach the Schloss Bellevue.
Personally, apart from Schloss Bellevue being the official residence to the President of Germany, it’s probably not a must see itself. However, the view on the Spree and the walk through the park are a nice escape from the tourist filled city, and make the trip worth while.
The War and The Wall
As modern as the city is, it seems impossible to go through it without coming across memorial cites for the second world war and, more importantly, the remnants of the wall that became the symbol for the the division of the Cold War for so many years.
One of these memorial sites sites is an outdoor display that runs along a part of the old wall and looks at the propaganda used during the war. Looking across the roof of the display, with the 200 metre stretch of bland grey wall, it becomes easy to picture what a divided city must have felt like.
The most impressive memorial site is, I think at least, the Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the murdered jews of Europe. however you interpret the site – as a revolution to the traditional memorial, a symbol for a graveyard, or a representation of a strictly ordered system that nevertheless feels off balance. – I feel like this particular memorial does exactly what it should do: it makes you think.
One more commemoration of the Wall is further north in Berlin, although easy to reach with the undergroud section. This becomes particularly impressive with its focus on the attempted escaped across the wall.
Finally, there’s Checkpoint Charlie. Everyone knows the famous “YOU ARE NOW LEAVING THE AMERICAN SECTOR” sign, which is still standing opposite the border control, the little control house armed with two “american” soldiers and the repective flags. Whether the sign or the soldiers are authentic I don’t know, the traffic island has – for all intents and purposes – become a tourist attraction.
A View From Above
Now for that top tip…..while you can spend 20 Euroto travel up the television tower to get a great view and take some pictures of Berlin from above, I suggest heading down to the Park Inn on Alexanderplatz and visiting the panorama dec (accesss 4 Euro) which the hostel manager referred to as the “Rockefeller Centre of Berlin. It’s not glamorous, but there will not be many people there and it will give you a chanceto see Berlin by sunset and take pictures of the city…that also show the iconic television tower.