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Best Free Sites in Berlin

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The Landwehrkanal was completed in 1850 after five years of construction. Designed by master landscape architect Lenné (also responsible for the Tiergarten and Pfaueninsel), the 12km canal was built on the orders of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who wished to link Berlin with a new industrial area in Köpenick. But the building of the canal was also part of a larger scheme—to fight the dramatic unemployment which plagued Prussia at the time. The canal is the perfect place for a Sunday afternoon stroll. Winding through the city, it is lined with trees and parks, and a cycle path follows its route. There are plenty of pleasant cafés along the way (particularly at Paul-Licke-Ufer) where you can stop for refreshments.

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.

Constructed between 1884 and 1894, the imposing Reichstag stands witness to Germany's past and present. 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 World War II, 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.

Built-in the years 1936 to 1941, Tempelhofer Freiheit was originally called Tempelhofer Flughafen when it was an airport. Although it was just an airport it played an important role in history. The airport saw forced labour during World War II and it was here that American cargo planes landed with food for starving West Berliners in the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49. During the Cold War, it was an important US airforce base and remained Berlin's main airport until the opening of Tegel Airport in 1975. Nowadays, the airport has closed and it has been transformed into a strange and spooky park that people can wander through. Visitors are welcome to explore the old buildings on a tour or check out the grounds and have a perfect picnic and fun day out with their family and loved ones.

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.

For decades it bridged the River Havel without ever really connecting one side with the other. This was where West Berlin ended and East Germany started, the impenetrable Iron Curtain drawn through the middle of the bridge. During the Cold War, this was the place where spies were exchanged on foggy November mornings and earned the name "Bridge of Spies." After the unification this majestic construction underwent a sudden change of image and became one of the most potent symbols of reunification since it was a bridge that connected and unified. Situated between Berlin and Potsdam, it now offers visitors a unique view over the River Havel and the surrounding forests where you can spot the occasional castle, church or pavilion.

The Sachsenhausen is a concentration camp that lies twenty minutes north of Berlin, in the town of Oranienburg. It was used as the central command base for all the concentration camps in Germany and the Nazi-occupied territories during World War II. During this time it also witnessed the systematic oppression of the jews and other minorities. It is one of the few concentration camps to have been designed by an architect and while most of the buildings have been demolished and replaced by memorials, the deliberate layout of the camp still recalls the purposefulness of Nazi tyranny. The one thing to remember while visiting this is place is its varying times. Open daily, the Sachsenhausen functions between 8.30a to 6p on March 15th to October 14th and 8.30a to 4.30p on October 15 to March 14.

Built in 1818, the Neue Wache on Unter den Linden is a fittingly simple memorial to the catastrophies of German history. Originally designed by architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel to commemorate the Prussian soldiers who fell in the Napoleonic Wars, the building is now dedicated more generally to the victims of war and political violence. On the outside, this is one of the city's most outstanding examples of classical architecture. Yet the inside is bare, bar a lonesome statue by Käthe Kollwitz of a mother holding her dead son. A moving symbol of the grief and tragedy of war.

The Zionskirche or the Zion Church which was completed in 1873 has been a witness to several significant events in Germany. reopened again in 2002, the church not only functions as a place of worship but also a symbol of Berlin's culture and history.

Berlin's grandest boulevard stretches east to west for just over a mile between Schlossplatz and the Brandenburg Gate. Originally conceived as a simple riding path between Berliner Schloss palace and the royal hunting ground in Tiergarten, Unter den Linden was transformed into a splendid regal boulevard by the 18th-century Prussian kings. Named after the linden trees which line its median, the road contains many of Berlin's landmark buildings like the Brandenburg Gate, Zeughaus, Kronprinzenpalast, State Opera House and Humboldt University. The Statue of Frederick the Great also sits here; one of Rauch's masterpieces, it depicts the king riding on his favorite horse, Condè, wearing his coronation robes, three-cornered hat, riding boots and holding a stick. Amazingly, the statue took nearly 70 years, 40 artists, and 100 designs to determine the final plan.

Once a no-man's land, Mauerpark is now a popular haunt among locals and tourists alike. Famous for its Sunday karaoke and flea market, this park though not a pretty park is full of character and atmosphere. This massive park is kind of an institution for Berliners now with its street art, music, sports fields, playgrounds and swings. Enjoy a stroll, take in its vibrancy and become a fan of this place just like many others.

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.

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