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The ancient St. Mary's Church, built of rough stone and crowned by a copper green steeple, was first mentioned in chronicles from the year 1294. As such, it contrasts starkly with its surroundings, a series of spartan socialist monoliths towered over by the futuristic TV Tower. It reminds us that Berlin is in fact an ancient city, although little has survived successive centuries of turmoil. The inside of the church is as plain as the socialist urban landscape outside, a place where Medieval Protestantism meets twentieth century agnosticism.
Strolling through the windswept square between the TV Tower, the Town Hall and the Palast der Republik, you may unexpectedly stumble across an exquisite baroque fountain known as the Neptunbrunnen (Neptune Fountain). Built a hundred years ago and severely damaged during the War, it was removed from its original site close to the former Royal Palace, thoroughly restored and then re-erected at Alexanderplatz. Surrounded by faceless socialist architecture, the intricate fountain seems slightly out of place here, yet this simply adds to its fascination.
The original Alexanderplatz, locally called 'Alex' by Berliners, was completely flattened during World War II. Its present day appearance is a prime example of East German town planning: a huge, windswept pedestrian area surrounded by featureless 1960s high-rises. But those who are familiar with Alexanderplatz from Alfred Döblin's novel of the same name will find that none of the hustle and bustle of the square has disappeared. Alexanderplatz is still very much a commuters' thoroughfare and is regarded by locals as the true center of Berlin. Named after Russian Tsar Alexander I who visited the Prussian capital in 1805, Alexanderplatz was at the center of the mass-demonstrations which brought the Berlin Wall tumbling down in November 1989.
The Rotes Rathaus or "Red City Hall" is how Berliners refer to their town hall. Seat of the Mayor and the Senate since reunification in 1990, the building was also home to East Berlin's local government in the GDR era, although the name actually stems from the reddish color of its walls rather than from the political leanings of the leaders. Built in the 1860s by H. F. Waesemann, the design reflects a strong Tuscan influence. Two years after building was completed, Germany was unified by Kaiser Wilhelm I. Consequently, Berlin became the capital of Germany and its new city hall, the supreme administrative building.
While plans are afoot to reconstruct the ruin of Schinkel's classic Elisabethkirche on Invalidenstraße, the Franciscan Monastery Church near Alexanderplatz will not be rebuilt. It remains, instead, in its present state as a memorial to the senselessness of war. Originally constructed in 1260, the church used to be Berlin's most impressive Gothic building before being bombed to pieces during the Second World War. The stunning red brick arches and columns have no roof, no knave, no tower, no spire. They stand alone on a deserted plot of land which is currently used for open-air art exhibitions and theatrical performances.
The monument commemorates the successful protest of some 100 women against the deportation of their menfolk.
Belonging to The Dungeons franchise by Merlin Entertainment, Berlins Dungeons is a popular tourist destination located on the Spandauerstraße. You are sure to experience the thrill as you stroll through this dungeon. There are nine different stories narrated by the excellent characters that will surely keep you at the edge of the seat. This thrilling journey is provided in both English and German versions and is recommended only for people above 10 years of age.