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 1999. 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.
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. The many greenhouses here are home to many rare plants from around the globe. Visitors shouldn't miss the unique Botanical Museum at the entrance.
The erection and fall of the Berlin Wall, which divided East and West Germany from 1961 to 1989, is one of the most significant chapters in German history. The Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer) is a salute to those who lost their lives during this tumultuous era. The Federal Republic of Germany established the memorial in 1998 on Bernauer Strasse, the site of the wall and the hub of the powers that ruled Germany during this period. The memorial comprises of the Monument in Memory of the Divided City, the Chapel of Reconciliation and the Window of Remembrance among other significant sites. The Documentation Center and the Visitor Center are also situated opposite the memorial in what was formerly West Berlin. Visitors can avail of guided tours of the monument and the open-air exhibition, which narrates the turbulent history of the site. The educational programs use innovative teaching methods so that kids and youth are immersed in local history. It also hosts events and film screenings, and has a bookstore and multimedia guides for visitors. This site is open to all visitors free of charge.
Sixty years after World War II, Berlin unveiled the Holocaust Memorial, known officially as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in memory of victims of those who lost their lives during Holocaust. An international symbol of a somber chapter in World history, this memorial, located next to the Brandenburg Gate and near the buried remains of Adolf Hitler's underground bunker, was designed by U.S. architect Peter Eisenman. The memorial's grid of 2711 gray concrete slabs covers a vast area in the heart of the city. The slabs, or stelae, stand at varied heights of up to 4.5 meters (15 feet), creating the sense of a stark concrete forest, through which visitors can wander on uneven cobblestone pathways. The design of the memorial is relatively abstract and has been interpreted in several ways. A poignant reminder of German history's dark chapter, the memorial's information center offers detailed archives and stories of the victims.
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 archaeologist Hildesheimer.
Located next to Zoo Station in the heart of the western city center, Zoologischer Garten Berlin is one of the most renowned zoos and a popular tourist attraction in the city. Founded in 1844 by Prussian King William IV, the Zoologischer Garten is Germany's oldest zoo. With 13,000 animals covering over 1,400 different species, the zoo is also one of the world's most populous zoos. Home to polar bears, giant pandas and arctic wolves, majestic birds like King Vulture and Ostrich can are found here. Frequented by locals and tourists alike, the zoo is an important landmark of the city.
The Berlin outpost of the popular Sea Life chain of aquariums is unlike any other, where visitors can spend hours perusing tank after tank of exotic fish, but the culminating attraction here is the AquaDom, a hulking cylindrical fish tank with a great glass elevator shaft in the center. Surrounded on all sides by sea creatures large and small, you will feel as though you have actually entered the ocean.
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 Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) rises up over Museum Island like an ancient Greek temple. The imposing, neoclassical edifice was designed and built by architect F.A. Stüler between 1866-1876 and contains an extensive collection of works by both German and international artists from the 18th and 19th Centuries. Visitors can admire masterpieces by French impressionists such as Cezanne, Manet and Renoir, the surreal works of Van Gogh and Münch, and sculptures by the likes of Schadow and Rodin.
Berlin City's Library location of Landesbibliothek in the Mitte neighborhood is one place not to be missed. Literally meaning the Central and Regional Library, the city location is housed inside an elegantly designed structure that resembles royal British styled architecture. Inevidently occupying a huge area, this place houses a massive collection of titles of all genres and languages. Serving as a Center for Berlin studies too, the city library offers access to historic literature as well. Also, the large reading room housed in here is regularly used to conduct events like discussions, readings and even live performances. A must visit to grab some relaxed entertainment!