Berlin, Germany: History and sights

Berlin – Berlin.

This is a very interesting city, known for its heavy and long history. It has preserved the features of medieval buildings until this time. Squares and cathedrals, theaters and museums, as well as other attractions are very popular among tourists.

Berlin is an extremely fast paced center, it is one of the most famous and interesting places in the European Union. It is incredibly diverse: parks and the newest buildings, parties, various eateries and expensive restaurants, lots of young people and employees.

Today it is a metropolis of about 3.4 million people and the economic center of the European Union. At the same time Berlin remains the most comfortable and beautiful corner of Europe.

The area of the capital is about 890 kilometers squared. Tegel Airport and Schönefeld, as well as bus and train stations, all operate in the capital. The public transportation system offers easy access to all parts of the city – for visitors and tourists there are streetcars and buses available practically around the clock, as well as the subway.

Modern Berlin in Germany

Modern Berlin

History

Most of Berlin’s current architectural history is defined by its troubled past, as the city has changed dramatically over the course of its existence. The results of many wars, in which Berlin played a major role, are also reflected in its appearance.

At the site of today’s capital there were originally Berlin and Cologne, which served as trade routes. Cologne was mentioned as early as 1237, which is the year it was founded. And after 70 years, these territories were united, becoming one whole. Each of these territories at the same time had self-government.

By 1432 the two self-governing territories had effectively become one, but at the official level, the final unification was not carried out until 1709.

The Thirty Years War in Germany.

The Thirty Years’ War

During the Thirty Years’ War, which took place in 1618-1648, it was incredibly devastated and the population was significantly reduced – too many people died in the war.

In 1701 the Elector of Brandenburg was crowned, he became King of Prussia, and Berlin became the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia. A significant contribution to the development of the capital was made by Frederick the Second. As a result, in the 18th century Berlin became one of the main centers of the European Enlightenment.

1871 – Berlin became the capital of the German Empire, in 1919-1933 the capital of the Weimar Republic, and directly in 1933 the capital of Germany.

After the World War in 1945, the capital was divided into four parts, it subsequently led to the formation of the two opposing ideologies of the GDR and FRG.

The capture of Berlin

The capture of Berlin

In 1961 – the famous Berlin Wall was erected, which was demolished in 1989. The country and the city united again.

Berlin Wall in Germany

Berlin Wall

Climate

The capital is located in the temperate climate zone. Precipitation averages 582 mm. The average temperature for the year is -9 °C.

The warmest months are July and August, with average temperatures of 18.6 and 17.8 °C, and the coldest are February and January, with -0.4 and -0.7 °C. The largest amount of precipitation should be expected in July – about 71 mm, the least – in March (about 31 mm).

More than 40% of the territory of the city is covered with different greenery, more than 400 thousand trees are planted in the streets. There are a huge number of small open spaces in the city, including extensive urban park areas, which are nicknamed “islands of cold”, they form a very useful climate for citizens and visitors.

Attractions

Berlin can be talked about at length, and also endlessly sing about its sights, but it’s much better to see everything with your own eyes.

But once in Berlin, start with the Brandenburg Gate, the city’s main landmark, which for centuries has represented the unification of east and west.

Above the gate stands the famous statue of the goddess of victory on a chariot with four horses. Imagine how the famous Napoleon liked this symbol of the city, that on his orders they had to tear it down and move it to Paris.

But it took a long time until this statue could be returned to its original place.

Brandenburg Gate in Germany

Brandenburg Gate

One of the memorable places in the city is the Berlin Wall. It is considered to be Berlin’s most famous structure, a memory that continues to live on year after year.

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Wondering where the famous Berlin Wall is located? But you can hardly see all of it, but it is quite possible to see some fragments and even take a picture near them.

Berlin Wall in Berlin

Berlin Wall

Reichstag – one of the organs of central power in medieval Holy Roman Empire of German nation witnessed turbulent German history. But whatever history the country has preserved for us, tourists can get to this place through the west gate, then take an elevator up to the dome.

From the vantage point you can see a wonderful panorama of Berlin. And from this point you can see the city and admire the vast view.

Reichstag in Germany

Reichstag

And you can walk along the boulevard Unter den Linden. This stroll has become Berlin’s most famous and huge street. It concentrates all the best buildings of the city area – the German State Opera, the Russian Embassy, the building of the former guardroom.

Unter den Linden Boulevard in Berlin

Unter den Linden Boulevard

Potsdamer Platz combines all of Berlin’s history. Once it was a wasteland, but after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it became a beautiful center of the city. There are casinos, hotels, shopping malls, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and theaters on the square. In 2010 it opened its own boulevard of stars.

Potsdamer Platz in Berlin

Potsdamer Platz

Other landmarks include famous architectural structures such as the TV Tower, Charlottenburg Palace, and the Memorial Church.

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace

Berlin is not called the cultural capital of the world for nothing – the city has a huge number of monuments, theaters, concert halls and museums. The city plays host to leading music festivals such as Jazzfest.

Theaters

The most famous and popular theaters among residents and visitors include the Volksbühne, the Berliner Ensemble, and the Theater of the West.

In addition, the city has three opera houses: the Comische Oper, the Deutsche Oper, and the Oper Unter den Linden.

Festivals

In February, the Berlinale, an international film festival considered to be the largest public festival, is held annually.

Berlin is a place that quite often hosts major festivals, which are very popular among citizens and visiting tourists alike.

Festivals, all sorts of parades and processions that are organized outdoors are very exciting. These are carnivals of cultures, all sorts of carnival processions, various festivals and the like.

Festival of Light in Berlin

Berlin Carnival

Museums

All the attractions of Berlin is very difficult to list, because just the museums on its territory there are more than 200.

But among them there are record-breakers – museums that are most often visited by tourists. And they are: Pergamon Museum, the Old National Gallery, the Egyptian Museum, the Museum of Security Services, the Museum of Natural History, the Bauhaus-Archive, the Grunewald Palace and the world’s grandest Museum of Erotica. Be sure to take a look at all the beauty on display.

Bauhaus Museum, Berlin

Grunewald Palace in Berlin

Museum of Erotic Art in Berlin

Symbols and landmarks

The Germans themselves call the Bradenburger Gate, often referred to as the Gates of Peace, Berlin’s central landmark.

No less important landmark for tourists will be a TV tower in the Mitte district, which is present on postcards with views of Berlin.

Television tower in Berlin

Television Tower and Bode Museum

Excursions

If you decide to take a walk around Berlin, experienced guides or people who live in the center of Germany can help you. With Tripster, you can choose the tour that interests you and enjoy the beauty of the city.

And here are the interesting facts about Berlin that you can not learn from a classic tour, you can read here.

Tips for tourists

Berlin is one of the most “alive” cities in Europe, which fell into the soul of many tourists. There are so many clubs, styles, trends, and subcultures. The shopping is good and the quality of service is booming all over Europe. Berlin is famous for its cultural heritage, there are many galleries and museums.

Berlin has a very large number of cultural attractions. Consider how to save money on them.

  1. Walking around Berlin is necessary to have a hotel card or a copy of your passport.
  2. Tickets for concerts is better to book on the service eBay. Many people who for some reason can not do it, sell them on private ads for next to nothing.
  3. For frequent travel around Berlin you should buy a card “Berlin – Potsdam Welcome Card”. It allows you to save in public transport and with it comes a discount on visits to museums and theaters. Buses run even at night, they are marked with the letter N. It is worth taking a day pass, so as not to use the expensive cab service.
  4. Stay in Berlin, despite the fact that it is the capital of the country, it is possible cheap. To do this you need to use the German services Airbnb, Studenten-wg.de and Wg-gesucht.de. It often happens that students rent out their housing when they are not at home. Usually these dates fall on holidays. Their absence can even last up to a month.
  5. If you want an unforgettable overnight stay, spend the night in one of the most unusual hotels in Germany.
  6. With the international student card ISIC you will have a lot of discounts to visit most sights, galleries and museums. On Mondays all cultural institutions are closed, the best time for excursions will be Tuesday and Wednesday.
  7. Stores in Berlin are at every turn, you can find them everywhere as souvenir shops and fashion boutiques. Most accept credit cards, so you don’t need to carry a large amount of money. There are also many cafes with free Wi-Fi access.
  8. Residents of this city are very scrupulous, they will never allow themselves to be late for a meeting.
  9. To address a stranger on the street you can use the phrase “Herr Doctor”. It is the word “doctor” in Germany has a broad meaning and refers to many types of professions.
  10. Cheap supermarket chains in Berlin are Lidl, Aldi, Kaufland, Netto. Also by visiting them, you can find many promotions and sales.
  11. Most young Berliners speak English, so tourists should not have any problems. Proved that when you address the locals in German, they will be more willing to answer you.
  12. When visiting cafes or bars, you should say hello to everyone at the entrance, using the phrase “Mahlzeit”, which means “Bon appetit”. In the center of Berlin food is expensive, but you can go eat at any supermarket.
  13. All the attractions in the German city are within one radius. See them on foot or rent a bike.
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Where to stay in Berlin

Decided to go to the capital of Germany and do not know which hotel is better to choose. We will show you the best options, close to the city center.

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Hotel Sidestar Discount Price before discount Choose dates
Classik Hotel Alexander Plaza ★★★★ -27% 16 059 11 712 View hotel
Hotel Nikolai Residence ★★★ -29% 13 946 9 901 View hotel
Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt ★★★★ -18% 15 636 12 859 View hotel
Lux 11 Berlin-Mitte -60% 25 054 10 082 View hotel
Radisson Collection Hotel, Berlin ★★★★ -9% 19 258 17 447 View hotel
Park Inn by Radisson Berlin Alexanderplatz ★★★★ -48% 33 808 17 447 View hotel
Holiday Inn Express – Berlin – Alexanderplatz, an IHG Hotel ★★★ -26% 12 074 8 935 View hotel

Take a Walk Around Berlin

See the beauty of Germany’s capital with the help of Google.

Natural History Museum

Reichstag

Brandenburg Gate

If you do not know your way around a foreign city, Tripster can help. Experienced guides will take you to the most beautiful parts of the city.

Berlin

Berlin is a special city for Russians and peoples of the CIS countries. Here in May 1945, after the bloodiest war in history, fascism was defeated and the Victory Banner was raised. The city with great ambitions, the failed world capital, for 28 years “cut” by the so-called Wall of Shame – all these titles for modern Berlin has long been part of history. Today, the EU’s second most populous city has different traits. Of course the stern past is not completely forgotten, but it is not so striking and that is why the image of the German capital has only improved.

Save money on a trip to Berlin!

Video: Berlin

Highlights

Berlin never complains about lack of attention because it always knows what to offer and how much to charge. The city is equally adept at art (Museum Island is a testament to that) and simple pleasures (over 2 hundred nightclubs speak for themselves). Add to that the notorious European tolerance, which has made Berlin truly a haven for people of non-traditional orientation.

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Panorama of Berlin Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Victory Column Karl Marx Square and Berlin Cathedral

The German capital has many faces, but to understand it, you have to immerse yourself in its atmosphere. Walk through the fashionable boutiques of Ku’damm and spend all your cash in them. Eat local delicacies in an authentic restaurant and taste all the beers the city has to offer. And finally, you can just say goodbye to the complexes and go sunbathing on the picturesque lawns of Tiergarten in the company of Berlin’s gay community.

In the squares and streets of Berlin, you’re stepping back in time to see famous government buildings, museums, palaces, and cathedrals. You can’t miss the monuments of modern history: the black ages of National Socialism, the fierce battle for Berlin, the period of the Cold War. Everyone admires the new main station – a symbol of the level of science and technology in the country.

Brandenburg Gate Fragment of the Berlin Wall

Berlin is famous for architecture from different periods, among its landmarks are the rebuilt Charlottenburg Castle, the Reichstag building with a glass dome that covers the assembly hall, the Brandenburg Gate and the Bundeskanzleramt, the seat of the German Chancellor, one of the stunning examples of modern architecture.

Berlin has two operas, two museum centers, two large zoos, and several universities – a consequence of the post-war division of the city by the wall.

In the city more than 170 museums and galleries are opened, where the pictures of old masters, the art of the XX century, the art of Ancient Egypt are exhibited. The Pergamon Museum displays ancient Greek architecture. Other museums talk about the city’s past, Bauhaus design and architecture, as well as modern technology, natural history, ethnology, and Indian art and culture, while the Berlin Wall Memorial exhibit tells the story of the very recent past. This is a monument to those who died trying to cross the border between East and West Germany. Here you will see sections of the wall and get a glimpse of the remains of anti-tank fortifications and electric wire on the “space of death” from the Eastern side.

The Reichstag building Inside the glass dome of the Reichstag

Berlin is a magnet for young people, and the nightlife and clubs are hard to beat. Among the annual festivities are PopCom, Mayfest and Christopher Street Day, Europe’s largest gay pride parade. Kurfürstendamm has expensive boutiques and hundreds of stylish restaurants and cafes.

The natural conditions in the capital of Germany are exceptionally favorable: in the center there is a large park Tiergarten, to the west – the river Havel with forests of Grunwald, to the east – also a lot of water spaces and greenery. Around Berlin is a necklace of beautiful, world-famous parks and castles: in Potsdam, Babelsberg, Rheinsberg, Cottbus.

Berlin, both historic and modern, is an amazing city to visit!

When to go

The territory of Berlin belongs to the temperate continental climate zone. The weather in the German capital peaks in the summer months with an average temperature of +18.8 °C. The best time to travel is from April to September, when the city is still warm and sunny. But from December to February is better not to stay here for a long time. Despite the fact that the concept of severe frost is practically unknown to the locals – the average temperature of the winter in Berlin is +1.3 ° C, because of the windy weather the cold in the city is felt quite severely.

Berlin in winter Berlin in autumn Berlin in spring

History of Berlin

The capital of Germany grew out of two fishing villages, Berlin and Cologne, united in 1307. Although there are several versions of the origin of the city’s name, most often the word “Berlin” is identified with the German noun “Bär” (“bear”).

View of Berlin from the southwest. Johann Bernhard Schulz. 1688

The city on the river Spree acquired its status as administrative center in 1417, after Elector Friedrich I. succeeded in taking over the reins of the Brandenburgian state. Berlin was immediately titled the residence of the margrave and the capital of the duchy, and was subsequently the fateful city for the entire Hohenzollern dynasty.

By the end of the 19th century Berlin was the political and cultural center of the German Empire. But the borders of the modern metropolis were drawn only by the 1920s, after the merger of the capital with the surrounding cities and towns. The truly grandiose prospects for Berlin loomed after the Nazis came to power. It was called the capital of the world, and the architect Albert Speer even managed to sketch a draft of this wonderful city of the future. To top it all off, the 1936 Summer Olympics were held here.

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The 1912 Berlin in Paul Hoeniger’s “Spittelmarkt” painting The Soviet flag over the Reichstag

The National Socialists were prevented from carrying out their grand plans for Berlin by defeat in World War II. By 1945 most of the German capital was in ruins and the city itself was torn into occupation zones: the western part went to Great Britain and the USA, while the eastern part went to the USSR. Moreover, Berlin remained the administrative center only for the capitalist West Germany, while the government of the thoroughly socialist GDR moved to Bonn. The city became the capital of Germany only in 1991, after the demolition of the legendary Berlin Wall and the unification of the two republics.

Urban districts and regions

The administrative system in the German capital is quite unique. Berlin combines 12 districts, each of which has a certain degree of independence and has its own district government. The districts are in turn divided into districts (the exact number is 96). Informal administrative unit can be considered a statistical area such as Schöneberg and the Bavarian quarter, whose boundaries often coincide with the boundaries of districts.

The center of medieval Berlin Medieval Berlin at night. In the distance are the peaks of St. Nicholas Oberbaumbrücke Church, a bridge over the Spree in Berlin

Unlike most European cities, attractions in Berlin are scattered throughout the vast metropolis. As a result, in order to cover as many historical monuments and places of worship, you will have to wind more than a dozen kilometers of the capital.

The most generous district and at the same time the historic center of Berlin – Mitte (“middle”). Of course, it is not the same reckless and crazy Mitte, who met tourists in the 30s of last century (during the war the area was almost completely destroyed), and, nevertheless, it still has enough interesting places. By the way, the main symbols of the German capital – the Reichstag building, Museum Island, Brandenburg Gate and the TV Tower – are located in this district.

Museum Island Berlin Opera House [

The Bohemian abode, the location of the most fashionable restaurants and hotels, and the center of attraction for all shopaholics in Germany is the Charlottenburg-Wimmelsdorf district. This is the place to visit the Berlin Opera House and the non-trivial exterior of Wilhelm Kaiser Church. Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district is populated by informal Berliners, so the young and the young at heart. With its rebellious spirit, easy drugs, nightclubs, and cheap nightspots, the area offers plenty of these and more. If you’re traveling with kids, head over to Tempelhof-Schöneberg for the renowned Berlin Zoo and the peaceful vibe that pervades its streets. The only “flaw” is that for some reason this neighborhood is particularly beloved by members of the gay community.

The Treptow-Köpenick is a paradise for nature lovers – the entire neighborhood is literally buried in green groves, interspersed with natural and artificial lakes. And of course do not forget about the famous Treptow Park with its monument to the soldier-liberator and the Köpenick Palace, which can be found in this part of town. An alternative to Treptow-Köpenick is the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district, which is home to those whose lives have been successful. In addition to the title of the best place to show off your financial snobbery, Steglitz-Zehlendorf also boasts the Strandbad beach, which is unquestionably considered the most beautiful beach in Berlin.

The Treptow-Köpenick district in Berlin The Köpenick Palace in Park The Steglitz-Zehlendorf district in Berlin The Gliniker Bridge in the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district. It connects Berlin with neighboring Postdam

A visit to the district of Spandau, once an independent city, is worthwhile for those interested in monuments of the past. The district still retains the walls of the old citadel and a part of the historical center with the elaborately restored Kolk Street and the 13th century Church of St. Nicholas. But it’s best not to stay too long in Neukeln and Lichtenberg. It has an ambiguous reputation among respectable burghers, partly because of the immigrants from the CIS and Eastern countries who inhabit it. However, if you’re planning to visit the aforementioned districts of Berlin exclusively for sightseeing, it’s unlikely that the locals will put up any trouble.

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Spandau district in Berlin The Spandau Old Citadel

sights and attractions

At first glance, the face of modern Berlin is stark and austere. It lacks the abundance of historical monuments that you would expect to find in a city with nearly 800 years of history, although the German capital is not at fault: all of the most spectacular and truly ancient buildings were swept away by the storm of WWII. There is no doubt that skillful hands of German builders have reconstructed some of the lost cultural heritage, but, alas, the glossy new buildings no longer have that notorious epochal spirit that literally exuded their ancient predecessors.

And yet, Berlin is beautiful! It’s beautiful with its wonderful museums, with everything from ancient Greek statues to gruesome Holocaust-era artifacts, green boulevards and cozy cafes where Remarck, Brecht, and Zweig once sat at their tables, delightful park areas designed with true German care, and recognizable architectural landmarks. Finally, in Berlin it’s great to just enjoy life: eat breakfast in tiny coffee shops in the morning, shop in the capital’s stores in the afternoon, and sip exotic cocktails in the many clubs at night.

But the first order of business, of course, is to run through the iconic sites and take spontaneous pictures of everyone and everything. The Brandenburg Gate, the legendary Reichstag with its panoramic dome, any of the sections of the Berlin Wall, Alexanderplatz, the TV Tower, the Red City Hall and Maria Church are all obligatory cultural minimums without which it is a shame to leave Berlin. The boulevards Unter den Linden and Kurfürstendamm should not even be mentioned, since only someone who has lost interest in the little pleasures of life could pass by these two thoroughfares.

Unter den Linden New Watch Building

Another prominent landmark in the German capital is the Berlin Cathedral. The exquisite, massive structure with turquoise domes, surrounded by the Lustgarten Park, sits on Museum Island. Speaking of the island itself: It’s worth the longest time to visit it, because this piece of land in the middle of the river Spree is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains the best museums in the country – Pergamon, the Old National Gallery, Bode Museum, the Old and New Museums.

Pergamon Museum Bode Egyptian Museum Dalem Museum Charlottenburg Palace

The rest of Berlin is also full of museums of all kinds. Technology buffs will be welcome at the Luftwaffe Museum. History buffs should enjoy the Jewish Museum and the Stasi Prison Museum. For interesting facts about the lives of great gay men, the Museum of Homosexuality is worth a visit. At the Museumszentrum Berlin-Dalem you can admire masterpieces of Asian art, and besides, you can wander amusingly among the houses, styled as the dwellings of different peoples of the world.

For a true fairytale experience, explore Berlin’s palaces. Stroll through the ornate halls of Charlottenburg, appreciate the discreet charm of Bisdorf, sigh enviously at the Köpenick porcelain collection, and, for a snack, enjoy the magnificent landscape of the Tegel palace and park ensemble.

A great way to cheer yourself up and dispel the myth of the hopeless existence of our lesser brothers in captivity is a visit to the Berlin Zoo. By the way, this institution is still ranked among the world leaders of its kind in terms of living conditions and species diversity. For relaxation, unusual souvenirs and controversial experiences better go to the district of Tiergarten, whose crowning “chip” – is the unusual, and sometimes openly ambiguous sculptures. Patriots are urged to visit Treptow Park to stand by the legendary Monument to the Unknown Soldier and walk the alley of sarcophagi. And travelers who risked to come to Berlin with children could be helped by the local water park Tropical Island. This gigantic attraction is divided into several theme zones and amazes with its crazy rides.

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