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.
Treptower Park was designed in 1880 and is nowadays split in two by the Puschkinallee which runs through its centre. One side of the park contains the imposing Soviet Memorial and the Archenhold Sternwarte, an observatory with the longest refracting telescope in the world. The other side of the park borders onto the river Spree, where there is a quay for boat trips on the river. Further along the Spree, the Eierschale café is a good spot to stop and relax.
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.
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 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 Czar 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.
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 World War II, 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.
In the early 19th Century, Hackescher Markt was still a muddy swamp situated outside Berlin's city gates. Yet as the industrial revolution gained hold, new businesses and booming industries set up shop here, bringing wealth and prosperity to the whole area. Hackescher Markt's main claim to fame, however, is its S-Bahn station. Constructed at the height of the railway boom in the late 19th Century, with a red-tiled facade, mosaics and rounded windows, this is one of Berlin's most attractive stations. Originally known as Bahnhof Börse because of its proximity to the Berlin Stock Exchange, the square in front of the station was renamed Marx-Engels-Platz by party apparatchiks during the socialist era. Nowadays, the station is used primarily by visitors to the nearby Hackesche Höfe complex, a labyrinth of courtyards brimming with cafès, restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. A cinema, theater and the Oranienburger Straße nightlife strip complete the list of attractions in this increasingly popular district.
While middle-aged, middle-class Berliners tend to head for the Wintergarten, the Chamäleon attracts a younger and more alternative crowd. Situated in the fashionable Hackesche Höfe, this popular variety theater has managed to preserve much of its original charm, even though the theater itself (plus the whole area around it) was modernized. The shows feature the likes of tap dancers, trapeze acts, magicians and clowns.
The Rotes Rathaus or Red City Hall is how Berliners refer to their town hall. Seat of the Mayor and the Senate since the 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.
The Hackesche Höfe has been a center for food and entertainment since its construction in 1906. Before World War II, this area was known for its Jewish theaters and cultural institutions and later became a great place for shops, cafes, underground bars and restaurants. This historic courtyard complex in the Scheuenviertel consists of eight courtyards and houses cultural establishments, businesses and firms. These also include theaters, shops, bars and restaurants. The courtyard is the largest of its kind in Berlin, and makes for a lovely getaway.