Bird’s-eye Berlin

By JC, Germany, November 2011

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Wim Wenders’ 1987 film Wings of Desire is one of the most evocative depictions of Berlin, filmed when the city was still divided and centrally-located Potsdamer Platz was little more than a giant sandbox. In the film, angels look down over the troubled city but these days reunited Berlin offers us mortals all sorts of ways to hit the heights and get a panoramic perspective.

The most obvious place to start is the enormous tower which rivals the Brandenburg Gate as the city’s symbol: the Fernsehturm. Out of reach in the East when Wenders was filming, this soaring spike was a provocative statement, meant to showcase the forward-thinking socialist state. East Germany is no more but the bulbous observation deck still offers an unrivalled 360° view of the city. Savor the view in the bar or the revolving restaurant.

Berlin doesn’t have much in the way of topographic highpoints, but do as the kite-flyers do and head for Teufelsberg, on the western edge of the city. Built from rubble after World War II, this artificial hill offers you Berlin laid out like a map on one side with the green band of the Grunewald on the other.

The angels certainly wouldn’t recognize the modern office buildings which have sprung up on Potsdamer Platz. One of the most impressive is the brick-faced Kollhoff Tower, a little wedge-shaped slice of Manhattan, which boasts a viewing platform, café and sun terrace from which to view the busy Platz and the city beyond.

Finally, when the day is done, take the glass lift to Solar. This bar and restaurant is a modest 17 storeys from ground level but enjoys a great view over much of Berlin. Toast the setting sun with something fruity from the cocktail menu.

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