Berlin, like Rome, Paris, and London, is considered one of the great capitals of Europe. It’s a city still dealing with the repercussions of 20th century wars, yet managed to transform itself to the dynamic and cultured place it is today. Many come to visit to pay respects and learn about life in Berlin during the difficult periods of the 20th century, but many end up staying because of the innovative culture that now infects the city. It wasn’t too long ago when the Berlin Wall fell and yet the city managed to resurrect itself, hipper and more vibrant than ever. Planning a trip to the German capital? Here’s a list of the top 10 Berlin sights to see while visiting the city.
Germany: Top 10 Berlin Sights
Other than the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate is probably the most recognizable landmark of the city. Built in the 18th century for Frederick the Great, this neoclassical style structure served as the passageway for entering Berlin. Both Napoleon and Adolf Hitler crossed it in their attempts to take over Berlin. The gate sits within Berlin Mitte, the city’s historic center.
The Reichstag is where the German Parliament meets and deliberates the issues affecting Germany. This seat of parliamentary power is a beautifully restored building located just west of the Brandenburg Gate. The Reichstag is open to the public and can be visited by appointment. There is an exhibit room documenting the history of the building and the Parliament. Visitors can also access the rooftop where you’ll have a 360-degree view of Berlin.
The Jewish Museum
This top 10 Berlin sights to see is not to be missed. The Jewish Museum is a contemporary designed museum that opened in 2001 and will guide a visitor through 2,000 years of German-Jewish history. Highlights include the Falling Leaves installation, the section on Tradition and Change, and an exhibit about “Chrismuukkah.”
East Side Gallery
The longest stretch of remains of the Berlin Wall is now an outdoor art exhibit. The mile-long wall is full of paintings and graffiti created by over a dozen artists just after the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Most of the paintings depict images of hope and redemption. Some have also gathered national fame, particularly the section of two men kissing.
Berlin Wall Memorial
In stark contrast to the colorful East Side Gallery, the Berlin Wall Memorial is a somber reminder of the sacrifices people made to gain their freedom from communist control. Located on Bernauer Strasse, the outdoor memorial includes a chapel and a couple of memorials dedicated to a divided Berlin and to the victims of communist tyranny.
Soviet War Memorial at Treptower Park
One of the largest Soviet war memorials lies within Treptower Park, an urban park located just southeast of the Berlin Mitte. It commemorates the tens of thousands of Soviet lives lost during World War II, particularly those who perished in the Battle of Berlin. The memorial also serves as a cemetery, with over 5,000 soldiers buried within the grounds. The centerpiece of the site is a 40-foot statue of a Soviet soldier carrying a sword and stepping on a swastika.
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest royal palace in Berlin and sits in the district of Charlottenburg, located west of the Tiergarten. It was commissioned by the House of Hohenzollern whose prominent leaders included Frederick the Great. The palace showcases several rooms featuring French baroque style paintings as well as a great collection of porcelain and Asian art. It also features a well-manicured baroque garden.
Museum Island (Pergamon, Bode, Neues, Alte National Gallery, Altes)
Berlin’s Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the city’s culture center, with five distinguished museums showcasing different types of art spanning several millennia. It includes the Pergamon Museum, the Bode Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte National Gallery, and the Altes Museum. The galleries containing archeological antiquities at the Pergamon Museum are some of the most visited in Berlin.
Berlin’s largest urban park lies just west of the Brandenburg Gate and is a popular destination for Berliners and visitors alike. Tiergarten connects with the Berlin Zoological Garden and contains plenty of walking and cycling trails. The park is also littered with beautiful sculptures and smaller gardens overlooking the River Spree.
Monument to the Lost Sons
This modest memorial of a mother cradling her lifeless son is one of the most somber monuments in all of Berlin. Housed in the neoclassical designed Neue Wache (New Guardhouse) right on Unter den Linden, the monument serves to remind visitors of the peril and suffering of civilians in World War II.
Do you agree with the list of top 10 Berlin sights to see in Germany? Is there another you’d like to see make the list instead? Let us know!
AN: Parts of the Pergamon Museum is currently undergoing major renovations. It includes the hall containing the Pergamon Altar and is not due to reopen until 2019.