FROM THE EAST SIDE GALLERY TO THE BRANDENBURG GATE, TAKE A DIVE BACK INTO THE HISTORY OF GERMANY’S CAPITAL
Berlin has plenty to offer young travellers: world-famous beer, cutting-edge architecture, currywurst (you have to taste this) and of course great people. Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about the city though, is its deep dark history. When you visit, take some time to learn about Germany’s past as a former Soviet State. Every corner of the city has its own story and was once part of a brutal dictatorship that thankfully came to a crashing end. We’ve rounded up the sites to see while you’re there, from famous landmarks to the best museums…
EAST SIDE GALLERY
Travellers flock from far and wide to get a photo of the murals. Photo by The Hostel Girl
The East Side Gallery is the last remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall and therefore a defining symbol of the Cold War. The Berlin Wall once acted as the barrier that divided Germany, separating East Berlin from West Berlin. It was built over night, keeping families and friends apart for almost 30 years (and leaving some people trapped on the wrong side).
When it was announced that citizens could finally cross the border in 1989, ecstatic crowds entered freely that same night. While most of the wall was dismantled shortly after, this remaining section has been used by artists to express themselves in over 100 inspirational paintings. It’s essentially a memorial of freedom.
One of the many paintings of the East Side Gallery. Photo by The Hostel Girl
The Holocaust Memorial. Photo by On The Luce
Pay your respects to the millions of Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust at the Holocaust Memorial. Comprising of 2,711 block of concrete standing parallel to each other in various rows, its sheer simplicity and minimalism is a beautiful tribute to those who suffered most during the Nazi regime. It’s an incredibly moving experience; you can feel a powerful but peaceful atmosphere in the air whilst you’re there. Well worth a visit and a haunting reminder of the past.
The Reichstag, the seat of the former German parliament
This landmark is walking distance from both the Holocaust Memorial and the Brandenburg Gate, perfect to fit into your day of sightseeing. The Reichstag was the seat of the former German Parliament for years - and therefore one of Berlin’s most famous sites. The building was almost completely destroyed in the the 1993 Reichstag fire, only four weeks after Hitler’s rise to power. Since then, it’s been rebuilt into the magnificent building it is today.
Walk to the rooftop terrace of the Reichstag and you’ll find the Bundestag, the current national Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany. This glass-walled dome sits on top of the Reichstag in all its glory. The large grassy area outside is the perfect place to set up a picnic for a yummy budget lunch.
Inside the Bundestag’s dome. The current seat of German Parliament. Photo by The Wander Blogger
Towering high above the rest of the city
The tallest building in Germany. You can spot Berlin’s Fernsehturm (German for television tower) from almost any point in the city and it’s a prominent feature in the city’s skyline. The television tower, located in Alexanderplatz is 46 years old and a whopping 368 metres high. It costs €10.50 to get to the top but you’ll be rewarded with spectacular panoramic views of Berlin. The sphere can fit up to 400 people in at a time - and up there you’ll find a rotating restaurant so guests can see the city view at all angles. Pretty cool.
Fun fact: the Brandenburg Gate hosts the city’s biggest street party on New Year’s Eve. Photo by The Globe is Dope
The Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most iconic monuments, so you can’t skip this. The majestic classical arch and white pillars form the neo-classical structure that once signified the divide East and West Berlin.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate turned to symbolize the unity and peace of the country instead. This is a great place to stop for pictures - and for your first taste of currywurst (sliced German sausage in a curry-ketchup sauce, usually served with chips or a bun).
Eating currywurst by the Brandenburg Gate
Walk 3 minutes to Wurst, a stall that sells the German fast food staple and tuck in. You’ll find you’re rarely far from a currywurst stall anywhere in Berlin (there’s even a currywurst museum, right near Checkpoint Charlie). And on that topic...
Checkpoint Charlie crossing. Photo by The Globe is Dope
Checkpoint Charlie is the name given to the crossing point between West and East Berlin. You may find Checkpoint Charlie a little gimmicky and tacky with the dressed up soldiers and props. However, looking past that, the barriers to the crossing are 100% real - and now a popular tourist attraction.
A view of the Bode Museum on Museum Island, looking over the River Spree
If you’re a fan of museums, head to Museum Island in the Mitte district. As you can guess from the name, it’s where a collection of Berlin’s best museums are based (5 world-renowned museums to be precise) and it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We recommend the Altes (Berlin’s oldest museum) and the Neues - but to be honest, they’re all pretty awesome showcasing the best art, artefacts and architecture.
The Altes museum. Photo by That Backpacker .
It’s beautiful on the island with stunning buildings surrounding you - and pretty views of the River Spree.
The Neues museum. Photo by That Backpacker .
TOPOGRAPHY OF TERROR
Inside the Topography of Terror. Photo by Two Men About Town .
Want to know more about the Holocaust? Visit the Topography of Terror. Housed in the former premises of the SS headquarters (the Secret State police during the Nazi regime), this museum documents the terror enforced by the Secret Service and explores the Nazi’s rise to power. Part of the museum is actually located in the former Gestapo torture cells.
The Jewish Museum. Photo by The Wander Blogger .
If that all isn’t enough to satisfy your cultural cravings, this is one of the largest Jewish museums in Europe. Opened in 2001, this museum takes you back to what the Jewish people in Germany had to endure during the Nazi regime, exhibiting their political and cultural history. Filled with tales from the Holocaust and amazing artefacts, this museum is definitely one to visit if you’re a museum lover and want to know more about Germany’s past.
The Holocaust Tower at the Jewish Museum. Photo by The Wander Blogger .