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Best Local History & Culture in Berlin

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Located at Alt-Hermsdorf, this quaint museum strives to preserve and protect the history of Hermsdorf. Previously home to a school, the museum now showcases exhibits pertaining to the rich history of this district, with each room portraying different eras of Hermsdorf's past.

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.

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.

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.

The building itself is worthy of being in a museum. Ludwig Hoffmann was the architect responsible for constructing the Markisches Museum in 1899-1908, and succeeded in creating an absolutely new kind of museum. This is no place for boring dust-covered relics. Instead, the visitor is presented with an intriguing mixture of objects which cover the history of architecture in Berlin and Germany. Glancing through the windows at the park and the romantic courtyard, the guest may feel far away from modern-day Berlin. Built in red brick with Gothic and Renaissance allusions, the museum is perfect for those wanting a taste of those darkly romantic German castles described in fairytale books. The small park behind the museum contains a bear cage where visitors can admire Berlin's symbol in real life.

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.

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 populace of East Germany. Interactive displays invite visitors to rummage through cabinets, and truly explore the exhibits, earning the museum the reputation of being one of the most interactive museums in the world.

The artist Yadegar Asisi is renowned for his awe-inspiring photographic exhibitions and panoramas, captivating the imagination of the thousands who are drawn to his massive installations. Through The Wall, Asisi brings to life a fictitious day in autumn on both sides of the Berlin wall in the 1980s. With the help of music, Asisi has created a truly immersive experience that brings to light the realities and deeper concerns of the denizens of a divided city. The lobby is home to numerous photographs collected by those who witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the events the preceded it, offering visitors an introduction to the experience that awaits within. Group and individual guided tours of the exhibition are offered as well.

It wasn't just food that the Allies airlifted into Berlin during the 1948/49 Russian blockade. Huge amounts of coal, petrol and even cars were flown in to help keep the strategically important Western outpost of Berlin intact. One of these huge four-engine planes now stands in front of the former Outpost Cinema along with a few pieces of the Wall and a French train carriage. The Museum of the Allies or Alliierten Museum recounts the fascinating history of Berlin from the end of the War to the fall of the Wall in 1989. The story is told from the perspective of the three Allies (USA, Britain and France) who occupied Berlin during these years. This moving story of peacemaking and confrontation, of hope and despair, is well worth a visit.

When the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, Rainer Hildebrandt established this museum which was later relocated to a spot near the Checkpoint Charlie, where it has been functioning since 1963. With the fall of the Wall, the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, also known as the Mauermuseum, became pivotal in recording the rise and decline of the wall, and has expanded today to include exhibits relating to human rights, as part of its collection.

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