Originally inspired by the Acropolis in Athens, the royal city gate was created by Carl Gotthard Langhans in the late 1700s. Just as back in the 19th century, it now stands guard over Pariser Platz, neighboring with banks and embassies. Once a symbol of division, the Brandenburg Gate is now the landmark for celebrating the German reunification.
Designed by Norman Foster and finished in 1894, then burned, bombed, and finally rebuilt, Reichstag now houses the German parliament and is indeed one of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks. Its most distinctive feature, the glittering glass dome, offers a magnificent panoramic view over the city and looks directly into the parliament chambers below, thus symbolizing the transparency of the government.
Originated as an ambitious construction project of international architects Renzo Piano and Helmut Jahn, the square today houses offices, theatres, hotels, and museums. The undoubted highlights of the square are the glass-tented Sony Center and the Panoramapunkt observation deck.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery, which is actually a 1.3 km stretch of the Berlin Wall, is the world’s largest open-air collection of more than 100 graffiti. Originally erected in 1989 as a grim divider of humanity and once dismantled, the wall became a canvas for a variety of political motos, drug-induced visions and truly artistic musings, altogether transmitting global euphoria about the reunification. Birgit Kinder’s Test the Best, showing a Trabi bursting through the Wall, the Mortal Kiss by Dimitri Vrubel, that has Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev locking lips, and Thierry Noir’s bright cartoon faces are all worldwide recognisable favorites.
Checkpoint Charlie is a famous crossing point between the US and Soviet sectors in Berlin during the Cold War. It is here where Allied diplomats and soldiers crossed the Berlin Wall, and where about 200 East Germans died in their attempt to escape over it.
Although the wall was opened in 1989 and the checkpoint booth removed on June 22, 1990, the checkpoint remained an official crossing for foreigners until German reunification in October 1990, when the guard house was removed.
A copy of the guard house and the sign which once marked the border crossing were later reconstructed. Over the years the guard house was replaced several times. Compared to the present one, the original booth was considerably larger and did not have sandbags.
An open-air display was opened in summer of 2006, and soon Checkpoint Charlie became one of Berlin’s top attractions. Today you can have your photo taken with the actors dressed as Allied soldiers in front of the guard house.
Nearby is the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, a private museum established in 1963 by Rainer Hildebrandt. The gallery walls along the Friedrichstraße and the Zimmerstraße depict the escape attempts and the confrontation of Soviet and American tanks in 1961.
By the way, James Bond passed through the checkpoint in the film “Octopussy” (1983), and the place features prominently in “Bridge of Spies” (2015).
This palatial three-wing complex unites a rich collection of classical sculpture and monumental architecture from Greece, Babylon, Rome, and offers a fascinating insight into the ancient world. The Pergamon houses the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of Islamic Art and the Museum of Near Eastern Antiquities. The exhibits include the outstanding Ishtar Gate from Babylon, the Roman Market Gate of Miletus and the Caliph’s Palace of Mshatta.
Charlottenburg Palace is a site of the grandeur of the Hohenzollern clan that ruled from 1415 to 1918. Originally a petite summer retreat, it grew into a fabulous baroque assembly of richly furnished chambers, banquet rooms with lavish chandeliers, mirrored and gilded galleries that house collections of precious porcelain and paintings.
On a nice summer day, stroll along the shady walkways of the palace park with its lovely flower beds and manicured lawns. Pay a visit to the elegant Belvedere palace, which houses another collection of porcelain masterpieces.
By the carp pond there is a neoclassical Mausoleum with ornate marble sarcophagi where royal family, including Emperor Wilhelm I and his wife, were entombed.
This football-field-sized memorial to the victims of Holocaust was designed by American architect Peter Eisenman in 2005. Hardly anyone will stay untouched by this silent maze of 2711 concrete columns rising from the undulating ground. Visit the underground museum to get a deeper insight on the tragic history.