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.
When you think of Berlin, the first word that likely comes to mind is the Wall. After being torn down, there is not much of the Berlin Wall which remains intact. The longest section of the Wall to be spared, which is 1.3 kilometers (0.81 miles) runs parallel to the River Spree between Kreuzberg in the West and Friedrichshain in the East. In the months following the fall of the Wall in 1989, 118 artists from all over the world flocked here to pay their tributes. The result is an open-air gallery containing a host of colorful and imaginative images, some satirical, some shocking and others puzzling. An important part of Berlin's cultural heritage, this landmark is one of the largest open-air galleries in the entire world.
Familiar to many from Wim Wenders' 1987 film "Wings of Desire," the view from the top of the 69 meter-high (226.37 feet) Victory Column is well worth the 285-step climb! Built in 1873 to commemorate Prussian military victories against Denmark, Austria and France, the Victory Column originally stood in front of the Reichstag, but was moved to its current location in the middle of the Tiergarten by the Third Reich in 1938. The golden statue of the Goddess of Victory can be seen from all over the city and is one of Berlin's most eye-catching landmarks.
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.
The Soviet War Memorial (Tiergarten) is one of Germany's most visited war memorials. Located in Berlin, Germany's capital city, this war memorial was built to honor the martyred soldiers belonging to Soviet Armed Forces. Construction of this structure was completed in the year 1945. This memorial remembers those who laid down their lives in the Battle of Berlin fought in 1945. In close proximity to the Reichstag, it is now frequented by visitors from across the world.
After the fall of the Wall in 1989, Potsdamer Platz turned into Europe's biggest building site, as urban planners worked to create an ultra-modern city center in the middle of a reunited Berlin. The only remnants of old Potsdamer Platz are the historic Haus Huth and the majestic Hotel Esplanade ballroom, which has been cleverly incorporated into the Sony Center. Approximately half of the area contains offices; the rest is divided between entertainment complexes like the IMAX movie theater and a fantastic shopping mall.
Urania-Weltzeituhr stands for Urania World Clock. It is a ten meter high metallic world clock built in the capital city. It is a popular eye catchy landmark and a historic structure built in 1969. Today, the locals and tourists consider this place to be a common meeting point.
No other square in Berlin has changed its name quite as often as Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. And that's saying something, because each new political regime in the German capital has traditionally set about renaming streets and squares after its own particular heroes. Previously known as Bülowplatz, East German authorities renamed the square in the fifties after their favorite national hero, Rosa Luxemburg. The central point of interest on the square is the Volksbühne am Rosa Luxemburg Platz theatre, one of the liveliest and creative stages in Berlin. Equally popular is Babylon cinema, an independent cinema with a long tradition.
Although plans are afoot to radically redesign Alexanderplatz, the square is still dominated by socialist buildings whose architectural beauty still attracts attention. One of these, Haus des Lehrers, is marked by an impressive 125 metre long mural which wraps its way around the building. Painted by Walter Womancka, this colorful depiction of "the perfect socialist life" is a classic example of the kind of art once promoted by East German authorities for propaganda purposes. Erected in 1964, the building represented a break with the monumental architecture of the Stalin era and a move towards a more cosmopolitan and transparent style. Originally built as a congress center for teachers, the building is now used for exhibitions and cultural events.
Built in the begining of the 19th Century, the Altes Stadthaus or the Old Town House of Berlin was designed by Ludwig Hoffmann. A major part of the building was destroyed during the World War II but it was later painstakingly conserved and rebuilt. After the construction of a New Town house, the Altes Stadthaus was less frequented by the city's residents as it could not accommodate the Berlin's growing population but it still stands proudly as an eminent attraction.
Anlegestelle Jannowitzbrücke is a beautiful pier on the banks of River Spree. It has a bar from where you can enjoy views of boats and the riverside buildings while sipping refreshing drinks. Visitors can also board a ship to Landwehr Canal or embak on long trips along the river. The Anlegestelle Märkisches Ufer is another prominent pier situated on the opposite bank.