The capital city of Germany is rich with history and culture. Badly fractured during World War II and the cold war, Berlin has recreated itself into an international city with diverse cultures and architecture. Explore the top tourist attraction in Berlin that still bears the scars of the recent past.
Once the hunting grounds of the Brandenburg elite, the Großer Tiergarten is now an urban park in central Berlin. Commemorating a Prussian victory, the Berlin Victory Column stands in the park and is surrounded by a street circle. Pedestrians can reach the column by using any of four underground tunnels. Near the Column sits Schloss Bellevue, the Beautiful Palace, which is the official residence of the President of Germany. Occupying the southwest corner of the Tiergarten, the Berlin Zoo houses around 14,000 animals. The open-air habitats have made it one of the most popular zoos in Europe.
Check Point Charlie
One of the best known crossing points of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie resonates with emotional and historical significance. Named by the Western Allies, the border crossing bore an ominous sign stating “You are leaving the American Sector”. This was the single crossing point for members of the Allied forces and foreigners. The guardhouse which once stood here is now on display at the Allied Museum in Berlin-Zehlendorf. A replica of a U.S. Army guardhouse stands at the crossing, and cobblestones are used to designate the former border spot. The best documentation on escape attempts and the original Checkpoint sign can be found in the museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie.
Art, entertainment and shopping can all be found in this vibrant corner of Berlin. The square was completely destroyed after the war but has been rebuilt into a modern plaza with landmark towers and a shopping arcade. The area is seen as symbolic reconnection of the two halves of Berlin, joining the residents of both sides in a completely new part of the city. A replica of Germany’s first traffic light stands in the center with sleek, modern office buildings surrounding the platz. The DaimlerChrysler Atrium offers a changing art exhibit while the Sony Centre features a Cinema Complex and Film Museum, a shopping mall and a 3D IMAX theater.
Unter den Linden
This beautiful boulevard lined with linden trees is one of the main east-west routes through Berlin. The trees were first planted in the mid 1600s and are cared for and cultivated by the city. Over the centuries the boulevard has been extended and now stretches from Museum Island to the Brandenburg Gate. Greatly damaged during the war, Unter den Linden has been renovated and is currently lined with many architectural sites and other tourist attractions in Berlin including the German Historical Museum, the Staatsoper, Altes Palais and the Palace Bridge.
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is in the center of the Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. The original church was built between 1891 and 1895 by Kaiser Wilhelm II. During WWII the church burned down after it was hit by an allied bomb, only the broken west tower of the church was still standing. In 1961 a new church, consisting of 4 buildings, was constructed around the remains of the old church. The concrete and glass structure is a fascinating counterpoint to the neo-Romanesque old church that it surrounds. Photos of the original church can be found in the remaining west tower along with some of the original mosaics.