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Largest palace in the city, this romantic Baroque palace was built in 1695 by King Friedrich Wilhelm I as a summer residence for his beloved wife, Queen Sophie Charlotte. One of the most impressive examples of Baroque and Rococo architecture, the palace and its grounds are a spectacular treasure chest of royal monuments. Hidden away in the lush expanse of the Royal Gardens are several smaller buildings of the complex. The ornate Rococo Belvedere tea house, contains an impressive collection of porcelain, while the Schinkel Pavilion which houses drawings, paintings, sculptures, furniture and porcelain by Karl Friedrich Schinkel. The neoclassical Mausoleum housing the tombs of Queen Louise, King Friedrich Wilhelm III, Emperor Wilhelm I and Empress Augusta are also a part of the palatial grounds. A sight to behold as the palace is illuminated at night, the Charlottenburg defines opulence and royalty in Berlin.
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.
Gendarmenmarkt is considered by many to be Berlin's most exquisite square. Flanked by the twin churches of Deutscher Dom and Französischer Dom, the square is crowned by Schinkel's neoclassical masterpiece, the Konzerthaus. The name of the square comes from the 'Soldier King' Frederick William I, who housed his cavalry (gens d'arms) here in the early 18th Century. The Französischer Dom (French cathedral) offered refuge to the French Huguenot community who fled to Prussia to escape persecution in 18th-century France. The ground floor now houses a museum, while the dome offers fantastic panoramic views of the city. Sheltering some of the most spectacular architectural wonders of the city, the square comes alive with gleaming golden lights and the bustle of enthusiastic locals and tourists with the renowned Christmas market.
Friedrich Wilhelm II had a soft spot for romantic castles nestling peacefully in the middle of the forest. In 1784, he commissioned a small castle to be built on this tiny, forested island on the River Havel, in the 'ruin-style' that was the fashion of the day among Europe's ruling classes. This is where he came to escape hectic court life and to liase with his mistress Countess Lichtenau. Three decades later landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné (designer of the Tiergarten) was commissioned by the Emperor's successor, Friedrich Wilhelm III, to design an English landscape garden on the island. Nowadays, tourists and day-trippers flock here to stroll around the beautiful gardens, inhabited by flocks of peacocks and dotted with ruins. A wonderful mix of romantic Prussian architecture and nature, Pfaueninsel ('Peacock Island') can only be reached by ferry from Nikolskoer Weg. It is a protected national environment, so there are no roads and smoking and cycling are forbidden. But picnicking is not; so bring a picnic hamper along if you fancy a summertime treat! The castle houses a small museum.
Many of the city's most important buildings and historical sights are situated on the banks of the River Spree. Examples include the 13th-century Nikolaiviertel, Schloss Charlottenburg, Palast der Republik and Schloss Bellevue. Several new government buildings including the Chancellery, where German Chancellors have their office, are boarding the river in a quarter called the Spreebogen. Broad paths along the Spree make it ideal for a peaceful stroll, best of all through parks like the Tiergarten, Treptower Park or Schloss Charlottenburg's Royal Park. A boat trip is also a great way of doing a bit of sightseeing (boats depart regularly from Museum Island or from Schlosspark Charlottenburg). However, the river is at its most attractive in the Spreewald, a beautiful biosphere reserve 50 miles south-east of Berlin. It is here that the river splits into hundreds of canals and streams, surrounded by rain forest. An extremely popular day-trip destination, the Spreewald is also home to Germany's minority Sorbian community, well-known for their colorful costumes and lively festivals.
Taking its name from its home island Pfaueninsel, this castle appears to be straight out of a fairy tale. Designed in the medieval style of architecture, it is surrounded with splendid gardens and winding paths. And, while you are awe struck with the natural beauty, beautiful peacocks roaming gracefully around will take your breath away. This landmark is a must visit for those who want to get away from typical tourist attractions and wish to explore historic landmarks.