Constructed between 1884 and 1894, the imposing Reichstag stands witness to Germany's past, present, and future. It was established as a parliamentary house for the German Empire under Otto von Bismarck and has since seen more than a century of European history unfurl. After the second World War, the Reichstag was neglected until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, at which time work began on returning the building to its original purpose. This new attention led to such additions as the iconic glass dome, which was added by British architect Sir Norman Foster. Today, visitors can climb up to the dome and enjoy panoramic views of brilliant Berlin from the terrace.
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. Exhibitions have included a retrospective of several Magnum agency photographers and an installation of photographs of religious practices from around the world.
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.
This museum houses a vast collection of artifacts from the ancient world, the crowning glory being the altar from the Zeus Temple in Pergamon (180-160 BCE), one of the world's most significant archaeological finds. The museum is also home to parts of the magnificent Antique Collection, the East Asian Collection, the Near Eastern Museum and the Islamic Museum. Designed by Ludwig Hoffmann and Alfred Messel, this museum was established in 1910 and is a part of the wonderful Museum Island. Ranked as one of the most visited art museums, not only throughout Germany, but also the world over, Pergamon Museum makes for a truly enriching experience.
Located on the Lindenstraße, the Jewish Museum is the largest museum focusing on Jewish history in all of Europe. The original Jewish museum of Berlin was built in 1933, but was closed in the following decade by the Nazi regime. The Berlin government hosted an anonymous competition to design the new museum; famed architect Daniel Liebeskind won the competition with his jagged and zig-zagging building that was nicknamed "blitz." The museum was completed in 1999. Today, visitors to the museum can learn all about German-Jewish heritage, starting in the Medieval era and continuing into today's Jewish community.
Built for the 1936 Olympic Games, the Olympiastadion conjures up memories of fanatical fans and Jesse Owens sprinting and leaping for four gold medals. Today, the Olympiastadion is home to Berlin's premier soccer club, Hertha BSC, and hosts major sporting events like the ISTAF Athletics Meeting. International performers like Michael Jackson, Beyonce, The Rolling Stones and U2 have taken the crowds by storm with their dazzling concerts here. Designed to impress the world, this monumental multi-purpose arena has done just that since its reopening in 2004. Visitors can wander around the stadium on event-free days, or choose to go on a guided tour of the massive arena. The visitor's center is perfect to learn more about the fascinating history of this monumental structure.
19th-century architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel provided Berlin with many of its greatest buildings, including the magnificent Konzerthaus and the equally striking Altes Museum. The museum, which opened in 1830, was the first to be built on Museum Island. It now houses rotating special exhibitions and is home to part of the Antique Collection, a breathtaking collection of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts that were excavated by the famous German archeologist Hildesheimer.
The Admiralpalast Grand Hall or Theatersaal, the jewel of the Admiralpalast complex, is a restored historic performance hall which now caters to audiences eager to see major theatrical productions, such as Grease and The Phantom of the Opera. Established in the year 1910, it remains one of the last surviving performing arts venues that were built before World War II. Originally, the facility was comprised of bowling alleys, a public bath and skating rink.
Home to the Berlin Symphony and National Symphony Orchestras, the Konzerthaus on Gendarmenmarkt plays host to some of the best in classical music. The original building was constructed at the request of King Friedrich II and later became the National Theater, following renovation by Carl Gotthard Langhans. After it was gutted by a fire, the theater was rebuilt by the Berlin architect, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, and renamed Schauspielhaus. The building was badly damaged during World War II but was restored to its former glory and reopened in 1984. The building we see today is a perfect reconstruction of Schinkel's original.
Anyone visiting Berlin today would find it hard to imagine that this vibrant and cosmopolitan city was once divided and through its heart ran a wall made of concrete and barbed wire, patrolled by armed guards. Erected on 13 August 1961 to halt the outflow of disaffected East German workers, the Berlin Wall divided Germany. No one will forget the night of 9th November 1989 when it came crashing down. In the months following its fall, it was bulldozed to the ground and the land where it stood auctioned off to the highest bidder. Not much of the original Wall is left today, with only one or two sections saved as a permanent reminder of the past. The longest and most impressive stretch can be seen at the East Side Gallery, while another section, which is full of chisel holes and graffiti, runs along Niederkirchner Straße just south of Potsdamer Platz. Hordes of tourists still flock to Checkpoint Charlie but there is not much left to see except a gripping exhibition at Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. The Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße is well worth a visit while a more somber moment could be spent contemplating the line of white crosses on Ebertstraße behind the Reichstag.
Located in the charming borough of Kreuzberg, Berlinische Galerie lies in close proximity to the Jüdisches Museum. Established in 1975, the gallery is fully devoted to exhibit and promote modern art in Berlin. Showcasing exhibits related to photography, architecture and contemporary art, the museum sees a lot of art aficionados, coming in from various parts of the globe. Apart from the changing installations and exhibitions, the museum's best collection includes the works of Berlin Secession, Georg Baselitz and Junge Wilde.