I tend to like everywhere I go, but I loved Berlin. Firstly, and I’m sure the correlation to my loving cities with good coffee is completely coincidental, Berlin had excellent coffee.
Since I’ve wanted to see it for years, the first stop was the Brandenburg Gate. The gate is a symbol of peace, and the statue on top is the goddess of peace Eirene riding in a Quadriga (which is a chariot drawn by four horses).
On either side of this gate of peace are statues of the two gods of war.
Passing through the gate and heading towards the centre of town, we came upon something truly impressive – The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
It is located in the former “death strip” of the Berlin Wall.
There are still pieces of the wall left in the city.
There’s also a line marking its former location.
The longest remaining section of the wall is outside of the Topography of Terror Museum.
The museum was incredible. It’s free, and all about WW2 and its aftermath.
As somebody who finds WW2 history fascinating, I was here for hours.
It’s even located in the former Gestapo headquarters!
The whole time I was in Berlin I felt like I was in an important place. Walking by places I’ve read about for years and seeing them for myself was an awe inspiring experience. Not only is it interesting for the WW2 locations, but then there’s also the Cold War locations like the Berlin Wall or the former site of the crossing between East and West Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie.
The Konzerthaus square was impressive and had similar churches on either side.
To add to the feeling of walking through history, Berlin has a very large number of museums. There’s actually an island known as “Museum Island” where some of the more famous museums are located. It is also the location of the Berliner Dom.
There was a lady singing opera in this park, which I’d say was a great musical experience in Germany.
We ended up buying a three day museum pass that let us visit most museums in Berlin.
One reason I loved the location of our hostel was its proximity to this synagogue.
We managed to try some traditional German food while here as well. The schnitzel was excellent, and I think Luke enjoyed the beer.
We visited the major museums on museum island, and the pass was definitely worth it.
The first museum we visited was the Pergamon museum. Years ago I read about the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and was disappointed to learn that it had been destroyed. I was therefore amazed when I found it reconstructed here.
The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto actually has one of the original lions of the Ishtar Gate, so if you’re in Toronto you should check that out!
Passing through the gate you find yourself in a reconstruction of the Market of Miletus.
The rest of the museum is impressive as well. It was pretty cool seeing these Assyrian statues for real.
This one was interesting because it had what looks like cuneiform written over it.
Of course I always love Islamic art.
We walked towards the Fernsehturm Berlin, which is a television tower and the second tallest structure in the EU right now.
Walking through Berlin was always a pleasant experience,
and I always found a reason to pass by the Brandenburg Gate.
We were able to see the iconic German parliament: the Reichstag Building.
Well known due to the Reichstag Fire, the arson of the building was blamed on the Communists and allowed the Nazis to consolidate more power by acquiring the Communist seats in parliament and gaining the majority.
Having been restored, it is now an impressive building and the location of the Bundestag.
I wasn’t able to take a picture, but in the Neues Museum we saw the bust of Nefertiti! Further museum exploring took us to the Bode Museum and the Altes Gallery.
Always nice to find a Monet somewhere.
We also visited the Anne Frank Museum, which had two walls of information chronologically. Facing each other, one wall had a history of the Frank family, while the other had information on the corresponding events taking place in Germany and elsewhere at the time.
Finally, we visited the Natural History Museum.
We saw some Ichthyosaurus fossils,
and a room of preserved animals. It looked like the Hall of Prophecy, but gross.
One reason I was extremely excited to be in Berlin is because it is of course where David Bowie recorded his Berlin Trilogy. I love all three of these albums, Low, “Heroes”, and Lodger, and was able to find the recording studio where they were made! I also listened to all three while here, so I can always remember that I listened to the Berlin Trilogy in Berlin.
Finally, Luke and I spent our last morning together in a café before he caught his train back to Amsterdam and his plane and I continued on to Prague.
I appreciated this appropriate size of a coffee.