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Berlin’s combo of glamour and grit is bound to mesmerise anyone keen to explore its vibrant culture, cutting-edge architecture, fabulous food, intense parties and tangible history.
The Berlin Wall is a sobering reminder of the hyper-charged postwar atmosphere, and yet the graffiti art that now covers its remnants has become symbolic of social progress. Check out the Weltzeituhr (world time) Clock, topped by a model of the solar system, then turn back time by dining at the historic Zur Letzten Instanz, a 16th century restaurant that was frequented by Napoleon and Beethoven.
Bismarck and Marx, Einstein and Hitler, JFK and Bowie, they’ve all shaped – and been shaped by – Berlin, whose richly textured history stares you in the face at every turn. This is a city that staged a revolution, was headquartered by Nazis, bombed to bits, divided in two and finally reunited – and that was just in the 20th century! Walk along remnants of the Berlin Wall, marvel at the splendour of a Prussian palace, visit Checkpoint Charlie or stand in the very room where the Holocaust was planned. Berlin is like an endlessly fascinating 3D textbook where the past is very much present wherever you go.
Forget about New York – Berlin is the city that truly never sleeps. Sometimes it seems as though Berliners are the lotus eaters of Germany, people who love nothing more than a good time. The city’s vast party spectrum caters for every taste, budget and age group. From tiny basement clubs to industrial techno temples, chestnut-canopied beer gardens to fancy cocktail caverns, saucy cabarets to ear-pleasing symphonies – Berlin delivers hot-stepping odysseys, and not just after dark and on weekends but pretty much 24/7. Pack your stamina!
When it comes to creativity, the sky’s the limit in Berlin, Europe’s newest start-up capital. In the last 20 years, the city has become a giant lab of cultural experimentation thanks to an abundance of space, cheap rent and a free-wheeling spirit that nurtures and encourages new ideas. Top international performers grace its theatre, concert and opera stages; international art-world stars like Olafur Eliasson and Jonathan Meese make their home here; and Clooney and Hanks shoot blockbusters in the German capital. High-brow, low-brow and everything in between – there’s plenty of room for the full arc of cultural expression.
Berlin is a big multicultural metropolis but deep down it maintains the unpretentious charm of an international village. Locals follow the credo ‘live and let live’ and put greater emphasis on personal freedom and a creative lifestyle than on material wealth and status symbols. Cafes are jammed at all hours, drinking is a religious rite and clubs keep going until the wee hours or beyond. Size-wise, Berlin is pretty big but its key areas are wonderfully compact and easily navigated on foot, by bike or by using public transport.
A vegetarian-friendly treat, the kartoffelpuffer is a pan-fried pancake made with grated potatoes, flour, eggs and onions. This well-loved dish can be enjoyed as a sweet or savoury treat – you can satisfy your sugar cravings by dipping this is applesauce, or have it as a savoury delight by pairing it up with garlic sauce or meat.
Do you have a sweet tooth, or enjoy devouring cinnamon-flavoured desserts?
If you answered ‘yes’ to both questions, you will definitely enjoy this treat. Filled with apples, and topped with icing sugar, cinnamon, raisins and breadcrumbs, the apfelstrudel is usually served warm, along with a serving of aromatic vanilla sauce.Found in cafes and bakeries around Berlin, it is consumed as a dessert or afternoon snack.
Meat lovers will not be able to resist sinking their teeth into this succulent dish! The breaded crust creates a satisfying crunch, providung a good contrast to the succulent texture of the meat. Traditionally, pork is used for the cutlet, although other types of meat, such as turkey or veal are also used to prepare the dish.Similar to most meat items served in Germany, the schnitzel is served along with potatoes. A fond favourite among the locals, the schnitzel posseses a level of popularity that rivals that of other well-loved classics, such as the currywurst and pretzels.
The German Historical Museum presents itself in two buildings: In the unique Baroque Zeughaus and the neighbouring modern exhibition hall designed by the Chinese-American architect Ioeh Minh Pei. The 300-year old Zeughaus is one of the most important buildings of the Baroque period in Berlin and the oldest buildings at the boulevard Unter den Linden. In 2006 the Permanent Exhibition “German History in Images and Artefacts” was inaugurated here; it showcases 2000 years of eventful and enthralling German history as seen within its European context. 8000 selected objects from the extensive collections of the German Historical Museum furnish valuable evidence of history and reveal, on a surface area of 8000 square meters, a fascinating and vivid picture of the past. Supplementing the Permanent Exhibition are specialized temporary exhibitions displayed in the fascinating exhibition building designed by I.M. Pei. The spacious new structure with its glass and steel entrance lobby and distinctive winding staircase was opened in 2003. Definitive events and facets of German history are presented in a variety of special exhibitions on the four floors of the new building.
Get to know the best of Berlin on this guided, 4.5-hour bike tour. Learn the history of the city, from its beginnings to its role as capital of the Nazi Third Reich, to the divided city of the Cold War, to the modern-day capital of a unified Germany. This tour includes a trip to the Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and more. Ride along the Spree River, through Tiergarten Park and stop at a beer garden for lunch (own expense). Use of a bike and helmet is included.
Situated just north of the Brandenburg Gate, this building houses the German Parliament and was the seat of the Weimar Republic government until it was seized by the Nazis in 1933.