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Must Visit Attractions in Berlin

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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.

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.

Not many people associate Berlin with dense forests and crystal clear lakes. Yet the city is richly endowed with both, particularly in the south-west, where several idyllic lakes - of which Wannsee is the largest - stud Grunewald Forest like glistening emeralds. A popular summertime destination for day-trippers, people gather at Strandbad Wannsee, Europe's largest inland beach, while water sport enthusiasts and hobby sailors take to the water. Several boats offer cruises on the lake and surrounding waters and there are also ferries to Peacock Island, Potsdam and Spandau.

Tränenpalast, situated in the heart of the city, is the former border crossing where West Germans bid goodbye to East Germans while going back to West Berlin where East Germans were not allowed to enter. The literal translation of the name means Palace of Tears. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, this building was used as a nightclub and live concert venue. Today, it is a museum featuring videos, photographs, audios, artifacts and documents which tell the story of this former border checkpoint and the history of Berlin's separation and reunification.

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.

Anyone visiting Berlin today would find it hard to imagine that this vibrant and cosmopolitan city was once divided and through its heart ran a wall made of concrete and barbed wire, patrolled by armed guards. Erected on 13 August 1961 to halt the outflow of disaffected East German workers, the Berlin Wall divided Germany. No one will forget the night of 9th November 1989 when it came crashing down. In the months following its fall, it was bulldozed to the ground and the land where it stood auctioned off to the highest bidder. Not much of the original Wall is left today, with only one or two sections saved as a permanent reminder of the past. The longest and most impressive stretch can be seen at the East Side Gallery, while another section, which is full of chisel holes and graffiti, runs along Niederkirchner Straße just south of Potsdamer Platz. Hordes of tourists still flock to Checkpoint Charlie but there is not much left to see except a gripping exhibition at Haus am Checkpoint Charlie. The Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße is well worth a visit while a more somber moment could be spent contemplating the line of white crosses on Ebertstraße behind the Reichstag.

This imposing monument was built in memory of the 20,000 Soviet soldiers who died during the battle for Berlin in 1945. It took 1,200 workers over three years to build (1946-9) and is constructed from the granite which had been previously ordered by the Third Reich for their own victory monuments. Located in leafy Treptower Park, the sheer size of the memorial is striking. A broad path leads to the enormous entrance portal, sculpted with lines of grim faced Soviet soldiers. Spread out before you is a long walkway, decorated with friezes depicting the Red Army's heroic struggle and culminating with a gigantic statue of a sword-wielding Soviet soldier, standing stoically on a plinth bearing friezes of cheerful peasants and workers. The memorial is impressive at any time of year, but is particularly imposing in the winter, when the snow absorbs all sound, lending the area a surreal, awe-striking atmosphere.

Set inside the Erholungspark Marzahn, Gärten der Welt is comprised of beautiful themed gardens. These lovely landscapes are predominantly inspired by the flora of Asia. The first garden to open in the park was Chinese-themed in the year 2000. Stroll through the Japanese, Korean, Balinese, Oriental and Italian gardens and you will be amazed by their unique beauty. From having unique structures using Chinese, Korean and Italian architecture depending on the respective themes, to astounding fountains and artistic statues, the park is an engineering marvel. Ideal for going on a picnic with family, the park has a strict no pets and bikes policy.

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.

Situated in the middle of the Brandenburg countryside, Flugplatz Bienenfarm is a small airfield with its grass runway and single hangar. This tiny airport is a place for hobby-pilots, businessmen on short-haul flights, and sightseeing flights. From here you can take a sightseeing flight over Berlin and Brandenburg and see Germany in a whole new way.

Located near Niederfinow, Niederfinow Boat Lift, also known as the Schiffshebewerk Niederfinow, is the oldest boat lift in Germany. It attracts around 25000 tourists each year and thus acts as a major tourist destination. This lift was established in 1934 on Oder-Havel Canal and since then has undergone several refurbishments to ensure a smoother functioning. The view afforded to visitors is a magnificent one, one which allows them to observe and admire the entire process of lifting and transporting ships as it unfolds before their very eyes. The place also provides tours for which prior reservations are advisable.

The Nikolaiviertel not only lies in the very heart of Berlin, it is the place where it all began. The first mention of Berlin in documents from 1251 referred to two settlements which are Berlin and Cölln. These are situated opposite each other on the banks of the River Spree. The settlement known as "Berlin" grew up around the market (now Molkenmarkt in the Nikolaiviertel) and the Nikolaikirche, named after Saint Nicholas, patron saint of merchants and fishermen. Destroyed during the War, many of the historic buildings were reconstructed for Berlin's 750th anniversary celebrations in 1987. The baroque Knoblauchhaus and Ephraim-Palais are two of the most striking edifices in the quarter.

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