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.
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.
Stretching from the Brandenburg Gate in the east to Zoo Station in the west, Tiergarten park is one of Europe's largest and most beautiful inner-city parks. Originally conceived as a hunting ground for Prussian kings, the Tiergarten was transformed into a romantic landscape garden in the early 19th Century by Peter Joseph Lenne, who designed a series of winding paths, lakes, bridges, sculptures and flower beds. The park was devastated in the World War II and during subsequent winters. Replanted in the mid-20th Century, the Tiergarten is now as beautiful as it ever was and very popular with locals and visitors alike.
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.
Velodrom is an indoor cycling track and multi-purpose stadium in Prenzlauer Berg. Velodrom hosts a variety of events, including cycling competitions, concerts, and swimming events. Open since 1997, the building was erected under the supervision of architect Dominique Perrault and can seat more than 5,500 people and host up to 12,000 depending on the type of event.
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.
Located in Alexanderplatz in the heart of eastern Berlin, this 1960s structure towers over the whole city. Built by communist authorities at the height of the Cold War, West Berliners cheekily christened the TV Tower "the Pope's revenge" because of the sparkling cross which appears on the pinnacle of the tower when the sun shines on it. Although regarded by many as an eyesore, the views from the top are hard to beat. The revolving restaurant situated 207 meters (680 feet) up the tower is a pleasant spot to stop for a coffee or meal and a relaxing gaze over the city.
CineStar CUBIX am Alexanderplatz is set in a cube-shaped steel and glass building. Spread across four floors, it features nine modern screening halls. It is one of the popular multiplexes in the city for movie-goers. Enjoy the latest Hollywood flicks and German cinema in this stylish theater.
While middle-aged, middle-class Berliners tend to head for the Wintergarten, the Chamäleon attracts a younger and more alternative crowd. Situated in the fashionable Hackesche Höfe, this popular variety theater has managed to preserve much of its original charm, even though the theater itself (plus the whole area around it) was modernized. The shows feature the likes of tap dancers, trapeze acts, magicians and clowns.
If you are into arthouse films, then Hackesche Höfe Kino will certainly interest you. Established in 1996, it comprises of five halls and a huge foyer. It showcases German as well as international independent flicks in their original language. Their wide list of programs make it an exciting place for not only film students but anyone who love these niche movies. Take a sip of wine, a Budweiser or a Coca-Cola and munch on some crunchy popcorn to complete your cinematic experience.