The four days we spend in Berlin where way too short. The city absolutely surprised me which you might have read in our first blog about Berlin. Now I would like to zoom in a little bit on the city. Inseparably connected are Berlin and the (cold) war. This is something you cannot miss when you arrive in Berlin for the first time. And like us you will probably see the following sites first.
Off course you want to start with the Berlin Wall. At a few sites over town the wall still stands on its original position. We have seen two sites which cannot be further apart experience-wise. The first site we saw was at the Topography of Terror. During the Nazi regime the SS headquarters stood here. After the war they demolished it and nowadays you will find a new (free) museum where they explain in detail all the terrors of the Nazi’s. Outside the museum there still stands a long section of wall which has not changed since 1989. It adds to the heaviness which you can feel at the site.
A complete other atmosphere you will find between the Oberbaumbrücke and the Berlin Ostbahnhof. This section is called the East Side Gallery. 118 artists started in December 1989 to transform it into an open air painting. The graffities show important political situations which they liked to address. All are thru pieces of art and it is really an eyesore that people place their tags and signatures on it. What a pity. Why do people do this? I don’t write on your house as well.
Uber touristy and we immediately kept on walking after we saw the site. It such a fake. To be honest, I already knew this beforehand but as you walk through the city you somehow end up at the site and then you want to see it. Just a quick situation schets: on the middle of the street there is a small building and 2 people in border security-uniforms from the cold war are standing in front of it. They are constantly talking people into taking pictures with them. This all takes place in a decor of large fast food chains like McDonald’s. When we got home people pointed out that the museum at Checkpoint Charlie is worth visiting. So my advice is, take a peak and go into the museum.
We already explained this sites extensively in our previous blog but it has to be in this list. What more can I say about it but ‘Go and see it for yourself’. It is impressive.
Our AirBnB was situated right behind the Holocaust Monument so this was the first site we checked out. It is a remembrance for all the fallen Jews during the Second World War. It consists of 2711 concrete blocks variating in high from 20 cm to 4,5 meters. All are placed exactly 95 cm apart and you can wander around freely. We immediately felt disorientated and this is exactly what the artist Peter Eisenman had in mind. Underneath the monument you can find the free information center where they show the history of the Jewish people. A real must-see.
The highest point of the city and quite recognizable all over town. Off course you need to go up. Did you know that it was a prestige object for the government of the DDR so they spared no expenses. How ironic is the following. When the sun shines on it the right way it shows a giant cross. This was not done in the atheist DDR so they almost decided to break it down again. Luckily they did not and it is an important addition to the skyline of the city. All inhabitants are proud of it. The top floor holds a restaurant and it spins around 360 degrees in one hour. The views are amazing during the day and night.
Beside the 5 sites mentioned above there are even more sites and museums which you can visit and experience this grey history of Berlin. But after a weekend, getting faced with its history, we had enough of it and we also had to leave again. Next time I really hope we can experience the typical Berlin life in its neighborhoods. So more time for terrasses, riding bikes, looking at people and getting a real taste of this life.