dimanche 4 février 2018

What to do in Berlin - Things to see and places to go in Berlin while on a short trip

Here are, according to us and our local team, the things to do and see in Berlin in order to get the real vibe, real essence of the city.

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1. Of course you could do all of the following or just register to our cultural scavenger hunt!

2. Take a look at this map of the city to have a real idea on how it is built and organized.

3. The Brandenburg Gate

Loosely modeled on the Acropolis in Athens and built for King Frederick Wilhelm II in 1791, this 26-meter-high sandstone monument in the Mitte district's Pariser Platz was Berlin's first Neoclassical structure, notable for its four-horse chariot, its six large columns on each side forming five passages for use by traffic (the center one reserved for royalty), and the two buildings used by toll-collectors and guards.
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4. The Berlin Wall Memorial and Checkpoint Charlie

The history of the Berlin Wall began in 1961 when East Germany sealed off the eastern part of the city to stem the flood of refugees from east to west. By the time it was torn down in 1989, the four-meter-high wall extended 155 kilometers, dissected 55 streets, and possessed 293 observation towers and 57 bunkers. Today, only small stretches of this graffiti-covered travesty remain, including a 1.4-kilometer stretch preserved as part of the Berlin Wall Memorial, a chilling reminder of the animosity that once divided Europe. Highlights include the Marienfelde Refugee Center Museum with its exhibits relating to the one-and-a-half million people who passed through Berlin as refugees, the Monument in Memory of the Divided City and the Victims of Communist Tyranny, the Window of Remembrance, and a Visitor Center with views over the remains of the wall. Also of interest is Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie marking the best-known crossing point between East and West Berlin and with displays and artifacts tracing the history of human rights.
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5. Charlottenburg Palace and Park

Berlin's oldest and largest Prussian estate, the late 17th-century Charlottenburg Palace was for decades the most important place of residence for German royalty. Beautifully restored, this huge palace boasts many important features, from its massive 50-meter-high central dome to the exquisite Orangery added in 1712. A highlight of the property's tour program is a visit to the New Wing with its State Apartments and fine Banqueting Halls. Built in 1746, it's here visitors get a glimpse of the splendor in which the Prussian Kings and Electors lived, from Frederick I's bedroom and study with their fine furnishings and paintings, to the apartments occupied by his successors. Highlights include the State Dining Room and the 42-meter-long Golden Gallery with its rich gilded stucco. Over in the Old Palace is the Porcelain Cabinet, home to one of Germany's most important porcelain collections, along with displays of valuable items including the Crown Jewels. Other highlights are the Palace Park dating from 1697 and home to the New Pavilion (Neue Pavilion) built in 1788 in the style of a Neapolitan villa, and the Belvedere Teahouse with its fine collection of Berlin porcelain. Be sure to visit the Mausoleum with its royal tombs, as well as the Grand Courtyard with its large statue of the Great Elector, Frederick William of Brandenburg.
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 6. The Gendarmenmarkt

 The Gendarmenmarkt, one of Berlin's largest squares, is dominated by three large historic buildings - the Konzerthaus, the French Cathedral (Französischer Dom), and the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) - that together form one of the most picturesque corners of the city. Laid out in the 17th century and named after a regiment of Gendarmerie that had a guardhouse here, it remains one of the city's most popular places, day and night. The Konzerthaus, built in 1821 on the site of an earlier theater, has long been one of Berlin's most important theaters - Goethe's Iphigenie was performed at its opening - and is as famous for its architectural splendor as it is for the first-rate performances of Konzerthausorchester Berlin, one of the country's most popular symphony orchestras. In front of the building stands the Schiller Monument, notable for its four female figures on the fountain canopy representing Lyric Poetry (with a harp), Drama (with a dagger), History (with tablets displaying the names of Goethe, Beethoven, Michelangelo, and others), and Philosophy (with a parchment scroll inscribed Discover Yourself). If visiting in winter, be sure to time your visit to coincide with the Gendarmenmarkt's popular Christmas Market.

Another well known square in Berlin, Alexanderplatz (popularly known as "Alex") was the very center of East Berlin life and is now home to the World Time Clock, a popular meeting place. Nearby is the Television Tower (nicknamed "Telespargel") with panoramic views of the city.
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7. Unter den Linden

 Berlin's most famous street, Unter den Linden - literally translated as Under the Lime Trees Avenue - has for centuries been a draw for visitors and locals alike. This broad avenue, stretching some 1,400 meters and connecting Pariser Platz in front of the Brandenburg Gate to the Lustgarten, began as a humble riding track in 1573 for royalty on their way to the Tiergarten to hunt, a route formalized in 1647 when the Great Elector had six rows of trees planted, including the famous limes. Today, its two car lanes are separated by a wide central pedestrian area that extends much of the street's length and provides a wonderful place to relax and take in the bustling city around you. Notable landmarks are the Arsenal and the Gendarmenmarkt, the Opera House, and St. Hedwig's Cathedral.
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 8. The Reichstag building

The foundation stone for the new Reichstag, a huge and elegantly proportioned Neo-Renaissance palace, was laid by the Emperor himself in 1884, and completed ten years later. After its destruction by fire in 1933, much of the former structure was rebuilt in 1970, but with the decision to return the seat of government to Berlin from Bonn after reunification, the Reichstag underwent a complete renovation in the late 1990s. A highlight of this magnificent reconstruction is the replacement dome, the Kuppel, made of glass and offering superb views of the surrounding city, especially at night from the Rooftop Restaurant. Note that entry to the Dome and Terrace is ticketed, and due to demand, it's recommended that tickets be requested in advance (registration is available on the day, but expect a two or three hour wait)
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9. Berlin Cathedral Church

Famous for its 75-meter-high dome with its old bell from 1532, Berlin Cathedral Church was completed in 1905 on the site of an earlier cathedral dating from the time of Frederick the Great. Built in the New Baroque style, the building - the largest church in Berlin - is divided into three main sections: the Memorial Church, the Baptismal and Nuptial Church, and the Parish Church. After decades of painstaking work to repair war damage, the church has been returned to its former glory, and highlights of a visit include the Imperial Staircase, decorated with bronze cornices and 13 tempera paintings by Berlin landscape painter Albert Hertel in 1905, and the Imperial Gallery with its views of the area below the dome. Also of note is the Hohenzollern Crypt containing nearly 100 sarcophagi, coffins, and monuments from the 16th to 20th centuries, including those of the Great Elector and his wife Dorothea, and Frederick I and his wife Sophie Charlotte. Try to time your visit for one of the cathedral's many concerts or music services, and be sure to climb the 270 steps to the Dome for superb views over Museum Island.
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10. Museum Island

Between the River Spree and the Kupfergraben, a 400-meter-long canal, Museum Island (Museumsinsel) is a wonderful part of old Berlin to explore. Here you'll find many of the city's oldest and most important museums, including the Old Museum (Altes Museum), built in 1830 to house the Crown Jewels and other royal treasures. Further development saw the construction of the New Museum (Neues Museum) in 1855, followed by the National Gallery in 1876, and the Bode Museum in 1904, home to one of the city's finest collections of antiquities. If you're only able to see one or two museums due to time restrictions, make sure one of them is the Pergamon with its spectacular reconstructed historic buildings from the Middle East. Also of interest for art buffs is the Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie) with its fine collections of 19th-century paintings. Adding to the whole experience is the fact Museum Island is almost entirely devoid of traffic.
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11. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

One of Berlin's most interesting landmarks, Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche) is in many ways two churches: the ultra-modern new church designed in 1961, and next to it, the ruins of the original, including most of the 63-meter-high tower. Completed in 1895 in honor of Emperor Wilhelm I, the original was destroyed in 1943, but its remains were incorporated into the new complex. The result is now a major Berlin landmark that also serves as a war memorial, with a memorial hall installed containing mosaic remains, architectural remnants, and photos. The centerpiece is a figure of Christ from the old church and a Cross of Nails from Coventry Cathedral, destroyed by German bombs earlier in WWII. Guided tours are available, and visitors are welcome to participate in Sunday services; Evening Music Services featuring cantatas, organ recitals, and choral music; and regular weekday services.
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12.The French Cathedral

 The counterpart to the equally impressive Berlin Cathedral Church, also in the Gendarmenmarkt, is the French Cathedral (Französischer Dom). Consisting of the Friedrichstadt Church and the domed tower, which was added later, the French Cathedral was built in 1705 for the substantial Huguenot community that had settled in Berlin in 1685. Highlights include the 70-meter-high tower with its five-octave carillon (its 60 bells are rung by means of a keyboard), the 20-meter Tower Rooms (Turmstuben), and a 40-meter-high viewing balustrade with excellent panoramic views of Berlin. The redesigned ground floor of the church houses the Huguenot Museum, with exhibits illustrating the history of the Huguenots in France and Berlin.
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13. The Nikolai Quarter

Berlin's Nikolai Quarter (Nikolaiviertel) is considered the heart of the old city, and is where you'll find many of its oldest and most popular attractions, including St. Nicholas' Church (Nikolaikirche), a number of museums, and a fun history trail. Recent redevelopment has seen this pedestrian friendly quarter become home to many small buildings set along narrow streets full of nooks and crannies and home to restaurants, cafés, shops, and craft workshops selling everything from basketry to wooden crafts. Highlights include the district's many old fountains, lanterns, and lattice-windows on the older houses, and historic buildings such as Ephraim Palace, built in the 1760s and housing exhibits relating to Berlin's rich artistic and cultural history (be sure to visit its exquisite grand staircase). Also of note is Knoblauch House, built in 1760 and representative of the former homes of the city's wealthy Jewish merchants and tradesmen. 
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14. Grosser Tiergarten and the Victory Column

 Literally translated as the "Animal Garden," Berlin's Grosser Tiergarten has long been an important part of the city. Originally an Electoral hunting reserve in which deer, wild pigs, and other game were kept, it was transformed into a park in 1700, designed originally in French style, and later converted into an English-style landscaped park. Attractively laid out with an abundance of trees and shrubs and expanses of grass and flower borders, the Tiergarten covers some 520 acres and is a favorite spot for relaxation, walking, and boating. The park also contains numerous important statues and monuments, including the Statue of Queen Luise erected in 1880, depicting her in a long dress with a relief recalling her care of wounded soldiers during the War of 1806, and a Monument to Frederick Wilhelm III unveiled in 1849 with reliefs reflecting the King's peace-loving disposition. The most important of the Tiergarten's monuments, however, is the massive Victory Column, a superb 70-meter-tall structure built on a roundabout and crowned by an eight-meter-high gold statue of Victoria (dubbed Golden Lizzy by locals). Completed in 1873, it's well worth climbing the 285 steps to the top of this magnificent monument for the views over the Tiergarten.
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15. Grunewald Forest

 Berlin has managed to retain an area of some 32 square kilometers as forest. Known as the Grunewald (Greenwood), this heavily treed area takes its name from the Hunting Lodge built in 1542 by Elector Joachim II. It's a lovely natural area of mixed oak, beech, pine, birch, acacia, and poplar trees, and provides shelter for an abundance of wildlife including birds, deer, and even wild pigs. Highlights include its three little lakes - the Pechsee, Barssee, and Teufelssee - which form part of a popular nature reserve, while in the eastern section are the larger lakes: Hundekehlesee, Grunewaldsee, Schlachtensee, and Krumme Lanke. Together with a nine-kilometer stretch of riverbank along the Havel, the lakes offer numerous opportunities for watersports and bathing. Other popular features are the 80-meter-high artificial hill, the Teufelsberg, atop which stands the ruins of a US "listening station" (a spy facility, which can be toured); the Grunewald Tower, a 19th-century memorial to Emperor Wilhelm I; and the original Hunting Lodge (Jagdschloss Grunewald), now a museum with an impressive collection of artworks from the 15th to 19th centuries (guided tours only). Get Google maps directions>

  Heike  is our Berlin local representative, we asked her what an ideal day of leisure in Berlin could look like, what she would suggest doing from early morning to late at night.
Here is what she suggests.Don't hesitate to contact Heike on Twitter @bigcitychase #Berlin #questionforHeike if you have questions for her, we may publish your conversation in this blog if she thinks it might be useful to other Berlin visitors.

  Heike from Berlin for Big City Chase Berlin : 

"Hello, my name is Heike, I was born in Munchen, grew up in Hamburg and finally moved to Berlin to study, I live here for 7 years now

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