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.
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.
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.
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.
Built on the site of Berlin's oldest church, the Nikolaikirche today is still the site of regular services, but also houses a museum highlighting its rich history, a tower which boasts some spectacular views, and fantastic acoustics, which are a boon when it hosts musical acts. This attraction is also worth a visit for its Medieval architecture and twin green spires.
The botanical garden and botanic museum's large and sedate park in the southwest of Berlin provides the perfect respite to a hard day's slog through the hectic inner-city. One can admire the English gardens and a collection of flora from all over Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. It is also worth taking a look inside one or two of the huge tropical greenhouses. Visitors shouldn't miss the unique Botanical Museum at the entrance.
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
For a peek into the lives of Germans living behind the Berlin Wall in East Germany, visitors to Berlin should be sure to check out the DDR Museum. The museum was opened in 2006. Kids and adults alike will be fascinated by the information the museum puts forth about the network of over 200.000 informants that spied on the populous of East Germany. Interactive displays encourage visitors to rummage through cabinets, and truly explore the exhibits, making it no wonder why the museum calls itself the "most interactive museum in the world."
Ephraim-Palais is an elegant Rococo building that was built in the mid-18th Century. It was the home of Veitel Heine Ephraim, the Prussian court jeweler, and coin minter. However, it had to be demolished to make way for the Mühlendamm in 1935. The rounded facade, gilded balconies and sculptural decorations were saved and stored in West Berlin. It was later rebuilt between 1985 to 1987 near the banks of the River Spree. Today it is a museum with revolving exhibitions on the city's cultural and art history.