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.
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.
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.
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.
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 2010. 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.
Brauhaus Lemke is one of the oldest functioning microbreweries in Berlin; for a city that really loves beer, that's saying quite a lot. The brewery was started by Oli Lemke in 1998 when he put together his own brewing system in his garage. Friends helped him set up the brewing system in an old S-Bahn unit, and in 1999, the Brahaus Lemke served its first beer. Today, visitors can sample the brewery's excellent craft beers, and even take home some bottles of their very own. The brewery also serves up delicious traditional German fare to go with its brews.
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.
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 squats, underground bars and restaurants. This historic hidden courtyard complex in the Scheuenviertel consists of eight courtyards and houses cultural establishments, businesses and firms. These also include theaters, shops, bars and restaurants. Despite the courtyard being the largest of its kind in Berlin, the area is still infrequently visited, and makes for a lovely getaway from the Berlin crowds.
Haus Schwarzenberg might be a tacky building and off the tourist track but for those looking out for something different in Mitte, this 19th-century decrepit structure is home to a few artsy establishments. One such is Kino Central. Set in its courtyard, it is a haven for indie film lovers. They regularly run art house cinema in their original language with German subtitles. Featuring two halls, this intimate theater also shows classics and children's movies. Definitely an interesting set-up to watch independent flicks.
Living up to its name, the Monsterkabinett thrills, startles. scares and shocks with its metallic-robot displays. The Monsterkabinett is a large space that doubles up as an art gallery as well as a haunted house park, and is the brainchild of artist Hannes Heiner. A somber pathway decorated with nightmarish graffiti and art leads you into an enclosed warehouse where the haunting really begins. Mammoth arachnids settle beside dead-as-doornail mummies, while a six-legged dolls pops in front of youto say hello. A macabre ensemble awaits visitors here, some of them made from metal, while some of them real - well, almost - suffice it to say they are actors from the Dead Pigeon Collective dressed up as demons to stir things up. Not for the faint of heart and incredibly morbid, the characters are reflections of the artist's dream world.
Levee Club at Hackescher Markt is the home of indie music in Mitte. The club usually opens its doors every night, and there are live bands playing almost every night as well. It's also home to some of the big indie parties in town, like Karrera Club and Kill All Hipsters. You can easily find it under one of the arches at the Hackescher Markt train station. The entry fee depends on the live act, but if you come for the parties (which usually start around 11pm), it shouldn't be more than EUR6. The bar offers the usual beers, wines and long drinks. Check their website to see if your favorite indie band is in town - they might be playing at the Levee. -Fabian Saul