Standing 67 meters (220 feet) high and topped with a 35-tonne gilded figure of Victoria – the Roman goddess of victory in battle – the Berlin Victory Column was inaugurated in 1873 to commemorate Germany’s (or Prussia, as it was called then) victory over Denmark in the Danish-Prussian War of 1864. Lovingly nicknamed ‘Golden Lizzie’ by Berlin locals, the sandstone memorial was designed by German architect Heinrich Strack and sits on a red granite base adorned with columns; it originally stood in Königsplatz, which is today’s Platz der Republik. In the run up to World War II, the column was moved to the center of the Tiergarten park as part of Hitler’s plan to rebuild Berlin as the grandiose capital city of the Third Reich.
The stylish, contemporary main railway station in Berlin was opened in 2006 by Chancellor Angela Merkel; it is built on the site of the Lehrter Bahnhof (Lehrte Station), which was demolished in 1957 after East Germany suspended rail services into its western counterpart. In 1993, the architects Gerkan, Marg and Partners were entrusted with creating a new station that befitted Berlin’s importance as the capital city of a re-united Germany, and the sleek terminus is made of glass and steel; it has five gleaming stories and is spanned by an arched glass roof. There are lines both above and underground and today the station is also a terminus for the S-Bahn (rapid transit commuter trains) and U-Bahn (metro line) services into and around the city from the Brandenburg region.
The Deutscher Dom, or German Cathedral in English, was built in the early 1700s in Berlin and was originally known as the Neue Kirche, or New Church. The church was badly damaged during World War II and was slowly rebuilt in the 80s and 90s. Today it is a museum and no longer holds religious services. The permanent exhibition on display is called "Wege - Irrwege - Umwege" which roughly translates to “Paths - Meanderings - Detours” and explains the historical development of the liberal parliamentary system in Germany.
The Lilliputian Nicholas Quarter is an area that was developed around Berlin’s oldest parish church, the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas’s Church), dating from 1230. The area now tries to maintain its medieval character; its cobblestoned lanes worth a quick stroll if you are in the surrounding borders of Rathausstrasse, Spandauer Strasse, Mühlendamm and the Spree River. Though there are many gift stores, cafes and restaurants in the quarter, you will find locals elsewhere.
The main attractions, in addition to the St. Nicholas church, include the Ephraim Palace, a masterpiece of palace architecture of the 18th century Berlin. Equally beautiful is the Baroque style Knoblauch house built in 1760, which offers insight into world of the upper middle class world through its rooms and valuable furniture.
Alexanderplatz remains the largest urban square in all of Germany and is a central meeting place in Berlin, located in the Mitte District. At its center is the large railway station (Alexanderplatz) with connections to many subway (U-Bahn), tramway (Strassenbahn), city trains (S-Bahn) and buses.
Named after the Russian Czar Alexander I, who visited the capital of Prussia in 1805, ""Alex"" became a traffic hub when a train station was established there in 1882.
Alexanderplatz took on its present form in the 1960’s after being ravaged in World War II. After the war it became the center of East-Berlin and used as a showcase of socialist architecture. This resulted in some unattractive buildings like the former Centrum department store and the Berliner Fernsehturm (TV Tower). In 1969 two more monuments were added to the square, the Weltzeituhr (World Time Clock) by Erich John and the Fountain of International Friendship.
The Bebelplatz is a public square in the central ‘Mitte’ district of Germany’s capital city, Berlin. Today it is best known for being the site where some 20,000 newly banned books were burned by bonfire in 1933 on order of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, because they conflicted with Nazi ideology. The square is surrounded by notable historical buildings, including the German State Opera (Staatsoper); St. Hedwig’s Cathedral (built in 1747 and modeled after Rome’s Pantheon, it was the first Catholic church built in Germany after the Protestant Reformation); and the former Royal Prussian Library (Alte Bibliothek) which is now part of Humboldt University.
All of the buildings on the Bebelplatz were destroyed in World War II and reconstructed afterward. An easily overlooked monument in the center of the square simply contains a pane of glass, which the visitor can look through to see many rows of empty bookshelves underground.
Palace of Tears, or Tränenpalast in German, is a building at Berlin's Friedrichstrasse station that was a border crossing point during the time when the city was split between East and West. It was used by people crossing into West Berlin, so those transiting through here were mostly people who lived in West Berlin who were returning home after visiting family in East Berlin. Due to the painful good-byes that took place here, it was dubbed the Palace of Tears. It was built in 1962 and operated until the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.
Today it serves as a museum with a permanent exhibition detailing the border experience and every day life in the divided Germany. Visitors can view original materials, photographs, films, documents, and interviews with witnesses, all of which document the effects and consequences of the border on the lives of Germans during this time. The exhibition also displays information on the key turning points of the reunification process.
Mauerpark is a park in Berlin located in what was once the death strip zone of a section of the Berlin Wall in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. The name translates literally as “Wall Park.” After the wall came down and East and West were reunited, this park became a popular recreation spot. People gather here to play sports with their friends, to enjoy performances by jugglers and musicians, or simply to hang out with friends. On Sundays, Mauerpark is home to one of Berlin's most popular flea markets. Both locals and tourists come to the flea market to browse through the clothing, shoes, bicycles, vinyl records, and various trinkets.
Another big draw are the Sunday afternoon karaoke sessions that take place at the amphitheater from spring until fall and start at 3 p.m. Remaining sections of the Berlin Wall at the Jahn Stadium now serve as a canvas for graffiti artists. Near the park, visitors will find the Bernauer Straße Memorial.
The Medizinhistorisches Museum, or Museum of Medical History, is part of the Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and is located in the former museum building of the Pathological Institute. In the permanent exhibition “On the Trace of Life” visitors can explore medical history over the past 300 years. The exhibit shows how the view of and into the body has continually changed throughout history. The exhibit ends with the patient as the recipient of medicine and the possibilities that exist in today's medical world.
Another central part of the museum is the specimen hall, which dates back to the collecting activities of Rudolf Virchow. Around 750 pathological-anatomical wet and dry preparations are on display here. The museum also features temporary exhibitions that focus on different aspects of current medicine and medical history. Throughout the museum, visitors can view medical instruments, valuable books and microscopes, and hundreds of rare samples.
Pariser Platz is a square in Berlin to the east of the Brandenburg Gate. It was named after the city of Paris in 1814 to commemorate the overthrowing of Napoleon in Paris. During the Cold War, this square was just east of the border, and once the Berlin Wall went up, it became part of the border strip and was inaccessible to the public. Today Pariser Platz is a popular spot for tourists to gather to admire Brandenburg Gate. Visitors will often see horse drawn carriages in the square waiting to take tourists on a romantic ride.
The perimeter of the square is lined with several embassies, including the French Embassy and the US Embassy. You will also find several hotels, restaurants, cafes, and several other countries' embassies in this area. It is also occasionally a site for temporary art installations as well as public demonstrations.
During World War II, Otto Weidt ran a workshop that produced brushes and brooms. His employees were mainly blind and deaf Jews, and he went to great lengths to protect them from persecution and deportation. He even found places for some of his Jewish works to hide, including one family that was hidden in the workshop. Today this workshop is the Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt where visitors can learn about the history of Otto Weidt's efforts to save his workers from being sent to concentration camps.
The museum's exhibition includes letters, poems, and photographs to describe what life was like for these workers whose lives were under constant threat. The exhibition also documents the employees' attempts to escape persecution and the important help provided by Otto Weidt. The workshop is mostly in the same state it was in during the war. This provides visitors with a valuable look at the conditions where the employees worked.
Dorotheenstadtischer Friedhof is a cemetery in Berlin dating back to 1762. It serves as a resting place for many well known Germans. Today many visitors come to this cemetery to stroll through the graves and see the headstones of the intellectual and artistic leaders who are buried here. There is also a monument honoring resistance fighters killed by the Nazi regime and a mass grave containing 64 people killed near the end of the war, most of whom are unknown.
The names include the philosophers Hegel and Fichte, the authors Heinrich Mann, Johannes R. Becher, Arnold Zweig and Anna Seghers, the director Heiner Müller, the architects Friedrich August Stüler and Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the artist John Heartfield, the actress Helene Weigel, and the printer Ernst Theodor Litfaß. There is also an honorary grave for the former Federal President Johannes Rau.
Doubling as the HQ of the many-stranded Stadtmuseum Berlin, the Märkisches Museum stands on the banks of the River Spree and backs on to the pretty Köllnischen Park. It is housed in a Neo-Gothic collage of monastic buildings designed by famous German architect Ludwig Hoffmann and opened in 1908. Inside the ecclesiastical theme continues with airy, light-filled interior punctuated with arched windows and a sprinkling of religious statuary. The displays showcase the history of the city and the Märkisches has several thoughtful permanent exhibitions, including ‘Here is Berlin!’, which takes a chronological look at the evolution of the city, and ‘Wall | Pieces’ exhibits several graffiti-ridden pieces of the Berlin Wall. Temporary displays might cover black-and-white images of the destruction of Berlin in World War II, while kids can have fun with the collection of automated pianos and organs, puppets, the 3D 19th-century camera and the mock-up of a barber’s shop.
The Platz der Republik in Berlin is a square in front of the Reichstag Building, which is the German government building and the seat of the German Parliament. The square covers an area of more than 397,000 square feet and is almost entirely covered in grass. There are also a few hedges and trees. The square was originally called Königsplatz, which means Square of the King, but in 1926 the name was changed since the monarchy was abolished. However, when the Nazis came to power in 1933, the name was changed back to Königsplatz. In 1948 the name reverted back to Platz der Republik once again.
Today visitors can relax in the square and enjoy being surrounded by important symbols of Germany's history as well as its present. You can take a tour of the Reichstag Building where the glass-domed roof offers great views of the city and an audio guide tells stories of the country's history and explains how the German government works. Also nearby is Brandenburg Gate.
Marmorpalais, or Marble Palace in English, is the former royal residence in Potsdam, Germany, outside of Berlin. It sits on the grounds of the Neuer Garten along the shores of the Heiliger Lake. It was designed in a Neoclassical style in the late 1700s and remained as the home of royalty until the early 20th century. Today the palace serves as a museum and is open to the public. Visitors can explore the interiors and see early classical furniture and detailed arches, which have different designs in almost every room.
The Marble Palace also has several marble fireplaces and ancient sculptures that were obtained from Italy. Local trees were used for creating the high quality wood floors and other detailed aspects of the palace. Some of the walls are covered in fine silks. Other impressive items on display here include two grandfather clocks and an extensive collection of ceramic vases.
Glienicke Bridge is located in the southwestern corner of the Berlin region and crosses the Havel River, which connects Glienicke Lake and Jungfernsee Lake. When you cross the bridge from east to west, you leave the Berlin region and enter the surrounding region of Brandenburg. The first bridge built here was in the mid 1600s, and it has been replaced several times since then. After World War II, the East German government named it the Bridge of Unity because the border between East Germany and West Berlin ran through the center of the bridge.
It is also known as the Bridge of Spies because during the Cold War, this was where the Soviets and the Americans exchanged spies who had been captured. The bridge was once again open to the public once the Wall came down in 1989. It has been used in the filming of commercials, television shows, and movies, including the 2015 movie Bridge of Spies, starring Tom Hanks.
Berlin's TV Tower is one of the most iconic buildings in the city as well as in Germany. The viewing level offers 360 degree views of the city from 666 feet high. From the tower you can see the Spree River, the Reichstag Building, the Berlin Cathedral, Brandenburg Gate, Tempelhof Park, the main train station, Potsdam Square, Museum Island, and many other famous and not-so-famous landmarks in the city. There are signs that let you know what you're looking at as well as some of the historical and present day information.
The TV Tower Restaurant sits at 679 feet high offering spectacular views of the city along with a special meal. The restaurant revolves so you will get to see the whole city without having to leave your table. One rotation takes about an hour. The menu includes local Berlin and German dishes as well as international cuisine, and you can dine in the restaurant for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. There is live piano music in the evenings starting at 7pm.