May 18, 2012 10:53 - holly | 1,468 views
Germany’s Berlin is a capital shrouded in a dark history. As the site of Nazi Germany’s headquarters and the menacing Berlin Wall that divided the East and West for 28 years, Berlin continues to reinvent itself to this day, forging itself as a hip, thriving city where the tourist dollar is pouring in.
On your trip to Berlin, whether you wish to understand the terrible events of the past, or discover the new Berlin, here are five essential items to add to your itinerary.
Visit the Holocaust Memorial
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe honours and remembers the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The towering memorial consists of 2,700 concrete pillars (“Field of Steal”), each 95cm wide and 2.37m long, with heights varying from zero to four meters. The pillars are spaced 95cm apart, which means that each individual walks through the haunting structure on their own. The memorial “suggests that when a supposedly rational and ordered system grows too large and out of proportion to its intended purpose, it in fact loses touch with human reason. It then begins to reveal the innate disturbances and potential for chaos in all systems of seeming order, the idea that all closed systems of a closed order are bound to fail,” says the Memorial’s designer Peter Eisenmansays.
The memorial is located in the centre of Berlin and is free. Visit stiftung-denkmal.de/en.
Topography of Terror
For a macabre look at the events of WWII Germany, visit the Topography of Terror. Last year alone, 800,000 people visited this exhibition at the site the headquarters of the Secret State Police, the SS and the Reich Security Main Office were located during the “Third Reich”. The exhibition chronicles the atrocities of the Nazis from 1933 to the events of their fall in 1945.Topography of Terror presents photos, newspaper articles and documents to illustrate the horrors of the period and some will be etched in your memory long after you leave.
The exhibition is located in the center of Berlin and is free. Visit topographie.de/en/.
Do a Walking Tour
A walking tour is a terrific taster of Berlin, introducing you briefly to the history and interesting facts on the city that only a local may discover. Berlin’s sightseeing tours are an entertaining stroll through the city with stop-off points at the many museums, historic sites such as Checkpoint Charlie, the still-standing remnants of The Berlin Wall, the site of Hitler’s Bunker and the headquarters of the Nazi party.
One could spend weeks trawling through Berlin’s museums but the Pergamon exhibition should certainly be on the list for a quick stay in Berlin. Pergamon is the first major exhibition dedicated exclusively to the history, art and culture of this 2nd and 3rd century BC city of Pergamon. Stroll through a life in the day of the inhabitants in 129 AD in The Pergamon Panorama. This monumental exhibit measures 25 metres in height and 103m in length, and depicts the buildings on the slopes of Pergamon, along with many of the statues featured in the exhibition. “You can now experience a festival honouring the god Dionysus, or accompany the emperor Hadrian on a visit to an ancient construction site,” says the website. “ You have the chance to observe life being played out in the alleys, the lively bustle at the market or to take a look into the workshops of sculptors. Why not ascend the hill to the acropolis and steal a glance into the temple of Athena, with its famous library?”(smb.museum/pergamon-panorama)
You absolutely can’t visit Berlin without tasting the food of the nation – Currywurst. The dish of steamed sausage sliced into pieces and seasoned with warm curry ketchup is simple but surprisingly delicious! You will find it pretty much everywhere you go (Germany is not big on vegetarian options). There is even a museum (currywurstmuseum.de/en/) for those craving more history on the dish.
So if you’re trying to decide on holiday destinations this summer, (we know Europe cruise is a popular one) consider a trip to fascinating, contradictory Berlin. For more information, visit visitberlin.de/en
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