At the centre of the dark 20th-century history, Berlin has gradually evolved and earned its reputation as a leading European city with its high art scene and dynamic, cutting-edge performances. The city has always impressed with the diversity of its numerous museums, palaces and historic structures. Berlin's landmarks reminding of the city's royal history, coupled with the multitude of its cultural venues including the world-famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, provide a remarkable cultural treat.
Emblematic of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate is the most awe-inspiring landmark in the city. There the world-famous boulevard Unter den Linden begins. Walking along and making small detours from this avenue one can catch a glimpse of the State Opera House, admire the Hedwig's Cathedral or take a closer look at the collections of the Old Museum, which reveal a microcosm of cultural excellence. Berlin landmarks, such as the Gendarmenmarkt and the French and German Cathedral (including the Schauspielhaus), are the highest examples of the city's Classicist architecture.
The list of significant structures goes further with the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, where one can find the famous terraces designed by Knobelsdorff, as well as the Neues Palais and Orangerie. From among the numerous monuments of Berlin, one of the most famous is the Schiller statue, which reminds the visitors of the city’s powerful literary tradition.
Important collections of art can be found at the monumental Pergamon Museum, whose building resembles an ancient temple. Since the reunification of 1989, you can get there by a boat-ride on the Spree River (which passes by the Reichstagsgebäude – government buildings) or on foot, strolling through the historic inner city. Although much of the great art collections of former Berlin suffered the consequences of World War II, many paintings were saved stored in salt mines.
Some pieces of art were preserved in the eastern part of the country, including a collection of ancient treasures discovered by 19th- and early 20th-century German archaeologists, and later were distributed among Berlin’s numerous museums. The Charlottenburg Palace, set west of Tiergarten, offers enormous museum collections and royal apartments, while the Schlossgarten Charlottenburg is an example of truly beautiful landscape architecture. Another landmark is the Mausoleum with the tombs of Friedrich Wilhelm II and Queen Louise, which serves as an important memorial to the history of the Royal Family of Prussia.
Recent history of Berlin is reflected in the New Wall: a partial reconstruction of 70 metres of the Berlin Wall in Bernauer Strasse and Acker Strasse. It incorporates segments of the original wall, but is mainly made of steel and has tiny holes through which visitors may take a look to the other side. Other sites commemorating the city’s dark era include the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which occupies a vast area in central Berlin and comprises 2,711 columns symbolising gravestones. The memorial, designed by architect Peter Eisenman, is set south of the Brandenburger Gate and was erected for the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Berlin's architecture combines elements from almost all periods and all styles. Religious heritage is best represented by the 15th-century Gothic Marienkirche, which boasts a compelling image of a Danse Macabre. Industrial Art Nouveau can be seen at the building of Hackesche Hofe, a site laden with fashionable boutiques and art galleries. Real shopping, however, takes place at the Potsdamer Platz Arcades, bustling with over a hundred speciality shops, restaurants and cafes.
If you're interested in older structures, go to the Nikolaiviertel, which is the place where Medieval and Baroque monuments are situated. In its centre, there is the 13th-century Nikolaikirche, Berlin’s oldest church. The building of the Kongresshalle, as well as the Philharmonie, where the world-famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra resides were designed according to the trends of mid-20th-Century architecture. Additionally, the city is thriving with the most modern architectural designs, some of which are lacking structural logic, but nevertheless, Berlin continues to evolve as a unified and, most of all, enthralling metropolis.
If you're an art enthusiast, it's high time you booked a hotel and delved into the city's multitude of artforms and appreciated its diversity!