The must-sees of a visit to Berlin: museums, buildings, churches, parks and everything in between
Berlin is a fascinating city, full of contrasts, history, buildings erected on the ruins of a war, and in a way, it is also a city in which underlies a certain sadness. It is worth visiting it and getting to know it well.
Let’s jump to Germany and with eager eyes this time we visit the capital, without leaving anything out in your preparation, because today we leave you the essentials of a visit to Berlin: museums, neighborhoods, parks and everything else.
Museum Insel: an island full of museums
An island full of museums is what Berlin has in the Spree River. Here is the Altes Museum, the first to be built and is full of antiquities with a permanent exhibition of art and culture of the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans. The Neues Museum is responsible for holding the collection of the Egyptian and Papyrus Museum, the Museum of Prehistory and Protohistory and the Collection of Antiquities. The crown jewel of its collection is the bust of Nefertiti. The Pergamon Museum owes its name to the Pergamon altar that rises imposingly inside, where there is also the Ishtar Gate, the Avenue of Processions and the Market Gate of Miletus.
The Bode Museum is full of medieval sculptures, early Christian and Byzantine art. And then there is the Alte Nationalgalerie, full of paintings by 19th century artists such as Monet, Manet, Renoir and Degas, among others.
Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)
If we talk about Berlin, of course you have to start with the Brandenburg Gate with the ever-present U.S. Embassy next to it. It dates from 1788-1791 and above it is the imposing Quadriga with the goddess Viktoria, added a few years later and also lived its adventures since Napoleon moved it to Paris for a decade. The square in front of it is Pariser Platz and as a curiosity, there is the Hotel Adlon, of mournful memory because through one of its windows Michael Jackson took out one of his sons.
Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas)
One block from the Brandenburg Gate is the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, or Holocaust memorial, with 2711 concrete slabs at different heights that leave no one indifferent. Walking through its narrow streets causes confusion, suffocation, a feeling of loneliness… In the subway annex are the names of all known Jewish victims of the Holocaust, obtained from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem.
Unter den Linden
Continuing along the beautiful avenue that opens before us from the Brandenburg Gate we have Unter den Linden (in English “Under the linden trees”), which leaves us a walk between beautiful baroque and neoclassical buildings and many sculptures. On one side is the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, in front of it is the Alte-Königliche Bibliothek, of sad memory (like many corners of Berlin), because here Josef Goebbels organized the book burning of 1933.
Near the Opera is the Catholic cathedral, the Hedwigskirche, reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome. Also across the street is the Humboldt University, where Karl Marx studied, or the Zeughaus, which is the former arsenal of the city and the oldest building in the area, and the Deutches Historisches Museum.
Turning strategically in the middle of Unter den Linden we will enter Friedrichstrasse, which goes beyond this avenue, the Spree River and intersects with several landmarks. It is a street full of offices, stores, such as a branch of Galeries Lafayette, and offices.
Gendarmenmarkt is known as Berlin’s most beautiful square, which is saying a lot, and there is the Konzerthaus, flanked by the Französischer Dom and the Deutcher Dom, twin cathedrals on opposite sides of the square. The former, built by Huguenot artisans fleeing France, tells their story. The second tells the story of German democracy.
By the way, very close by is the delicious chocolate shop Fassbender und Rausch where it is highly recommended to make a stop to regain strength in our tour.
Friedrichstrasse was once one of the major centers of conflict between East and West Berlin. The American Checkpoint Charlie was the border between the American and Soviet zones. Today what is there is a rather touristy spectacle with a replica of the border post (the original is in the Allied Museum) and a couple of actors dressed as soldiers.
Here you can also see parts of the Wall that separated the two parts of the city and you have to go looking at the ground because there you find a metal line that marks its trajectory.