Berlin: A Green City Covered in Bike Trails
Most ideas authentically provided by by Meike Radler
I decided to visit Berlin for a few days, before heading on to Munich to enjoy Oktoberfest and I think that it is one of my favorite cities in Europe now. Many people actually in the past had told me that Berlin would be a city in which I’d feel comfortable, and that I would enjoy – to all of them I say… you were right.
The city has a great energy, and is always moving (some clubs literally open on Thursdays and don’t close for the whole weekend). The people are very polite and welcoming, and always riding a bicycle. The organization of the city is such that getting around is very convenient, and the personality of each neighborhood is very clear, there is a place for everyone to fit in.
One thing to keep in mind – which goes for all of Germany, is that you need to carry cash. I don’t know why it is, but many many places do not take any other form of payment. You’ll find ATMs in every corner almost, so make sure that wallet isn’t just filled with plastic.
In terms of where to go and what to do, here a is a mix of what I visited, as well as the recommendations given by a true Berliner, Meike. If you want her to teach you the German shuffle, just let me know – I’ll put you in contact with her – be advised that without this, your dancing will be questioned at any party you go to in Berlin.
Pergamon Museum: Located in Museum Island, the museum holds important excavations including important Babylonian monuments like the Ishtar Gate, the Market Gate of Miletus and a vast array of art pieces of Islamic art including jewelry and manuscripts. I’d recommend getting the pass to enter all the museums in Museum Island, as it will save some costs – and just dedicate a day (or a morning) to this island.
Neues Museum: Berlin’s New Museum hosts an incredible collection of Egyptian art, prehistoric pieces and classical antiquities. The most famous art piece in the museum is the Nefertiti Bust. This bust was crafted around 1345 B.C. and is considered one of the most important pieces of its time given that the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten was considered an icon of feminine beauty as well as a very famous women of her time.
East Side Gallery: An open-air gallery in Berlin that consists of different murals painted directly over 1.3km of the Berlin Wall. It’s very easy to walk past it looking at the different murals.
Places to Visit:
Brandenburg Gate: Built in the late 18th century it’s not only located near pother important sites like the Reichstag, the Tiergarten and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The Gate has always been an important location for main historical events in the city, and is an impressive sight.
Berlin TV Tower: Also known on Instagram as #thattoweragain given that it can be seen from most places in the city, the Fernsehturm still remains the tallest building in Germany, hosts many radio and TV broadcasting stations, and serves as an observatory.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: This memorial stands in memory of all Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Under the pillars there is also a “Place of Information” that holds the name of 3 million victims.
Reichstag: This historic building in Berlin use to hold the German Parliament (Diet) during the beginning of the twentieth century. After being set on fire in 1933, the building fell into disuse and went through two main reconstruction periods, the latest of which was led by Norman Foster in the 1990s. The main dome can be visited by tourists.
Berliner Dom: The Berlin Cathedral that stands today was built over an older Church, and was completed by 1905. This was built to be the Protestant counterweight to St. Peter Basilica in Rome. As many other buildings in the city, the Cathedral was damaged during the second World War and had to go through a period of restoration.
Potsdamer Platz: This area was the busiest and liveliest during the 1920s and 1930s in Berlin, but it all came to an end after the second World War when it became No-Man’s land, separating American, British and Soviet areas of the city. Nowadays the area is full of modern buildings, to bring life back into what had been deserted for years.
Dead Chicken Alley: A place that you can definitely miss if you don’t look for it as it’s hidden inside an alley in the middle of the Mitte neighborhood. When murals were not allowed in the city, a group of young people called ‘Dead Chickens’ bought this alley, and opened it to artists who wanted to draw on walls. There are some bars in the alley itself if you’d like to grab a drink.
Tiergarten: This is Berlin’s most famous in-city park and also one of the largest urban gardens in Germany. Definitely come with a few beers and even a picnic basket to enjoy a sunny afternoon.
Mauerpark (& Sunday Flea Market): This park, although small in size, hosts a Flea Market every Sunday where you can buy anything from food to antiques to clothes. Although many other Flea Markets pop up in the city during the weekends, this was my favorite.
Tempelhofer Feld: The old field of a military airport was closed for some time and then reopened to the public as a park. It is located right by the Tempelhof Airport which is now a tourist attraction that can be visited by tourists.
There’s definitely a lot to see, and keep you busy in Berlin. Just make sure you prioritize based on your preferences because it’s also nice to just walk around the city, from one place to another and enjoy the different vibes of the neighborhoods.