Urban Nation is a contemporary museum housed in a two storey building situated in the corner of Bülowstraße and Zietenstraße that is painted with large murals and paintings on the outside. With its ever-growing collection of contemporary and street art, Urban Nation has bought about a revolution in the local art scene and has built an establishment where the artists and art enthusiasts in the city can connect. Various exhibitions organized here feature artwork curated by the expert panel of international artists that choose only the best artwork from across the globe keeping the quality of exhibits always high.
Berlin has its fair share of weird but wonderful tourist attractions, Designpanoptikum is a less known example of this. The exhibits here are bizarre and outlandish in the best possible ways and immediately transport you to a world caught between dreams and Willy Wonka's workshop. The whimsical collection is privately owned by Vlad Korneev, an artist in his own right. He is usually around to assist you with explanations, view points and sometimes, to help you draw your own conclusions. Step in, give that imagination of yours a thorough workout.
Germany's most recognizable symbol is not as large as many visitors expect, yet its history is rich and fascinating. Built in 1791, the Brandenburg Gate was modeled on the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens. The Quadriga statue on top of the Gate, designed by sculptor Gottfried Schadow, represents Victoria, the Goddess of Peace, riding a four-horse chariot. This was one of Berlin's original 14 city gates, yet the only remaining evidence of the other gates are the names of underground stations such as Kottbusser Tor and Schlesisches Tor. The Brandenburg Gate and Pariser Platz have played center stage to numerous turbulent historical events. The south wing houses a tourist information office.
Throughout the centuries, many churches have stood on the location of the current Berliner Dom. The first one was erected in 1465 for the reigning royal family, the Hohenzollern, and was little more than a chapel at that time. In 1747, it was replaced by a Baroque cathedral designed by Johann Boumann, before being transformed once again in 1822 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Today's Dom was built between 1894 and 1905 during King Wilhelm II's reign. Almost completely destroyed in World War II, the Berliner Dom remained a ruin until restoration work finally began in 1973. Some of the cathedral's highlights include the mosaics covering the cupola, the crypt, the altar and the altar windows. The Dom also enshrines over 80 members of the Hohenzollern family. Those visiting must take a look at the Sauer organ within the cathedral, one of the largest in Germany, and take in the views from the roof promenade.
Museum Island is located on the northern half of a historically-significant island in the Spree River that runs through Berlin. The island takes its name from the five Berlin State Museums that reside in the area - the Altes Museum, the Bode Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Neues Museum, and the Pergamon Museum. Museum Island was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. The island's first museum was erected in 1797, and the whole area was designated specifically for art and science by King Frederick William IV of Prussia in 1841. An assemblage of spectacular historical monuments, the Museum Island is a stunning heritage hub.
C/O Berlin calls itself an "International Forum for Visual Dialogues," and while this may be apt, it doesn't actually describe what C/O is. It is simply an excellent gallery that houses temporary exhibitions of photographs and photographic installations by the world's leading documentary photographers, from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Trent Park. It is not particularly well known, but for photographers, lovers of photography, or even just people who are interested in the world, it is one of the must-see museums in Berlin. Its exhibitions, usually by multiple photographers, never leave the viewer untouched.
Contrary to other big cities, Berlin does not have one big, city cemetery, but several smaller graveyards, scattered all over the city. The Französischer Friedhof is a particularly special place, as many of the graves originate from the 18th and 19th centuries. It is also the resting place of the great German writer Theodor Fontane (1819-1898), author of such classics as Effi Briest and Walks Through the Mark Brandenburg. His French-sounding name reflects his ancestry from the Huguenots, French protestants who were persecuted in their homeland and fled en masse to Berlin in the 16th century. And as this cemetery bares the name French Cemetery, you'll find plenty of similar names scattered everywhere. Fontane's grave lies opposite the resting place of the inventor of stenography. And if you look closely, you may well come across other famous names.
Raab Galerie opened a decade before the fall of the Berlin Wall, close to the border crossing at Heinrich-Heine Straße. The group of young artists who exhibited here in the gallery's formative years (the Moritzplatzbewegung) were inspired by the vicinity to the Wall. Others were influenced by the Holocaust or by the student movement of the 1960's. The gallery exhibits works by world-famous artists like Francis Bacon, Jim Dine, Michael Tracy, as well as complete "unknowns". Definitely worth a look.
Bucher Forst is a forest in the northernmost part of Berlin, ideal for long, relaxing walks. Forty per cent of the 435 hectare forest is coniferous, sixty percent deciduous. There are also two fish farms where carp are bred. The forest is dotted with tables and benches for picnics.
The huge orthodox synagogue on Fraenkelufer used to be the centre of orthodox Jewish life in Berlin. While liberal Jews frequented the New Synagogue on Oranienburger Straße, orthodox Jews celebrated the sabbath here from 1913-1938. That was until members of Hitler's SA stormed the building and burnt the torah scrolls. The complex was then confiscated by the Gestapo and used as a garage. Although completely destroyed during a wartime bombing raid, neither the bombs nor the Gestapo succeeded in putting an end to Jewish life on Fraenkelufer. Nowadays, there is a community centre and a smaller synagogue in an adjacent building. On the bank of the canal, one of the most beautiful spots in Berlin, a commemorative plaque recounts the synagogue's turbulent history.
Kreuzberg has two different faces. During the 1970s, innumerable run-down 19th century buildings around Hallesches Tor and Kottbusser Tor were pulled down to make way for modern tower blocks. The result—An anonymous concrete jungle. However, in the area around the Landwehrkanal—the canal which divides southern Berlin in two—residents successfully demonstrated against the demolition of their beloved old city quarter. It is here that you'll discover the other side of Kreuzberg. Careful renovation and subtle innovation have helped preserve one of Berlin's traditional working-class quarters. The best example is to be found on Fraenkelufer, a road which runs parallel to the canal. Alongside traditional houses painted in warm Mediterranean colours, futuristic modern constructions rise up from slim concrete pillars. Space has been left between the houses for flower-beds and trees. A round of applause for the architects please!
This small, tranquil and leafy cemetery is the resting place of a number of personalities who have had a great influence on the development of modern Germany. Those buried here include Helmut Gollwitzer, an important Lutheran theologian; Edwin Redslob, founder of the Free University of Berlin; and Wertheim, founder of the Wertheim department store chain. The most visited grave here, however, is that of the charismatic leader of the 1967/8 student revolt, Rudi Dutschke. Dutschke died in 1979, ten years after an assasination attempt which had left him crippled.