Berlin, Germany, is a city that I’ve visited only once. It was in the middle of winter a few years ago and the weather was terrible. The city left an impression on me nevertheless. There’s an overwhelming amount of historic sites and pretty places to be found all over Berlin. It’s an enormous city, with starkly contrasting areas and neighborhoods – the Berlin Wall is to blame for that. After Berlin was reunited in the late 1980s, the city underwent a huge transformation. While the West was already modernized, the East had some catching up to do.
Nowadays there still is a visible difference between former East Berlin and West Berlin, but that difference is slowly disappearing. There’s ultramodern architecture, old churches, former war sites, fantastic nightlife, remains of the Berlin Wall, museums and, additionally, it is one of the greenest cities on earth. Also, surprisingly, Berlin is a city crisscrossed by canals and the River Spree. There are no less than 1,700 bridges in Berlin; that’s more than in Venice! Think about that for a sec.
After my wet and cold stay in Berlin, this is my personal
10 Major Highlights of Berlin
10. East Side Gallery
Berlin is famous for its graffiti paintings on the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery is probably the ultimate place to see them. The open-air gallery consists of beautiful graffiti art on a pretty long remaining section of the Wall.
9. Potsdamer Platz
Having been completely destroyed during the Second World War, Potsdamer Platz was slowly rebuilt afterwards. It officially reopened in 1998 and now consists of many modern buildings, such as the impressive Sony Center.
8. Checkpoint Charlie
This used to be one of three checkpoints along the Berlin Wall. It was the site of a standoff between American and Russian tanks in 1961 and became a major symbol of the Cold War period. It now features a free open-air museum that lines the streets.
The historic center of the city, Alexanderplatz is a popular square. Landmarks include the 365-meter Television Tower, which is one of the tallest structures in Europe, and the World Time Clock.
6. Museum Island
This is an actual island in the River Spree, home to no less than five excellent museums, located right next to one another.
The historic Reichstag building might just be the most well-known structure in Berlin. It had to be renovated after the fall of the Wall and now serves as the seat of the German Parliament.
4. The Berlin Wall Memorial
The Berlin Wall Memorial is located on Bernhauer Strasse and features an intact section of the Wall, the so-called Death Strip, a watchtower and exhibits that give visitors an impression of life along the dreaded Wall.
3. Holocaust Memorial
A not-to-be-missed site in Berlin, the humbling Holocaust Memorial is made up of more than 2,700 gray stones of different sizes.
2. Brandenburg Gate
Originally a gate in the city walls, the massive Brandenburg Gate was built as a peace symbol. It is located on the famous Unten den Linden avenue and now symbolizes the reunion of Berlin.
The Gendarmenmarkt is one of my absolute 10 major highlights of Berlin. This gorgeous symmetric square has to be one of the most beautiful in Europe. The Concert House, French Cathedral and German Cathedral are three landmark buildings.
These are only 10 major highlights of Berlin. There are so many more; for example, Charlottenburg Palace, the Berliner Dom, the Zoo, Kurfürstendamm, Bebelplatz, the Karl-Marx-Allee and the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtsniskirche.