BERLIN

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GUIDE TO BERLIN: 150 PAGES OF COMPLETE INFORMATION

 

Why visit Berlin?

How many times in recent years have you thought about visiting Berlin? What attracts of this city? For sure the history of a city completely razed to the ground after 1945 and reborn from its ashes. A city then divided and torn in between for 28 years by barbed wire and a huge concrete wall: the Berlin Wall, which, despite itself, became a world icon. Berlin attracts above all for something that is not visible to the naked eye, its atmosphere as a place in the center of the world. Here you have the feeling of living history live.

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Many young people come here bringing their ideas, creating one of the most interesting cultural melting pots in Europe... art, architecture, fashion, design, ecology.

The challenge, becoming "Capital of Europe"

Panorama di BerlinoThe capital of Germany, one of the 16 states (Länder) that make up the Federal Republic of Germany, is in the midst of a "rebirth" that has been going on for many years now, to the point of contending in London and Paris for European cultural supremacy. Also thanks to its tormented past, it has become a point of reference for fashion, art (including Street Art), design, music and ecology (public green occupies more than 30% of the city's surface). After German reunification, the city has never ceased to be an open-air construction site. The young Germans and Europeans who arrived here form vital lifeblood in building the future.

Old and brand new

From the oldest Nikolaiviertel neighborhoods in Berlin onwards, the past in this city is always present: the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island, Schloss Charlottenburg, the Gemäldegalerie and what remains of the "Wall", the most famous wall in the world. Cafes, bars and clubs are full on every day of the week.

ReighstagFrom streets, neighbourhoods, monuments and airports (we are waiting for the completion of Berlin Brandenburg's major airport), everything has changed in a short time. If you've been here before the fall of the wall, you'll find it hard to recognize these roads, but even if you've been here a few years ago, you'll find plenty of news. There are so many things to see and do, but beyond this what will strike you will not be material but rather "spiritual", an air that is everywhere progressive, vibrant, interesting!
If you are curious and want to get a general idea of the city, this is the right page for 101 questions and answers about Berlin.

If you have little time to visit Berlin, optimize it by booking a guided tour.

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A liveable city despite its size

Panorama di Berlino al tramontoDespite the frenetic pace and greatness, Berlin remains a pleasant and enjoyable city, where you can relax, where the new Europeans live in the neighborhood where they live and strive to improve it. If you're a few days away, maybe you won't feel it but you're a few months old, you'll appreciate the sociality of the neighborhood, the desire to participate. Traffic is fluid, car sharing is widespread, public transport is excellent, roads are safe. The green spaces are everywhere, large, and there are spaces and games for children in every street. Berlin is certainly a child-friendly city.

The city is the most populous of the country with its approximately 3.5 million inhabitants (4.2 with the metropolitan area), from its modest origins it has become one of the capitals of the world, a driving force at international level, in the scientific, commercial, technological, cultural and political fields.
 

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9 November 1989 an unforgettable date

The modern world changed on 9 November 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The generation born with the "Cold War" (when the Soviet Union and America fought a political war, without armed clashes, but made up of blackmail, threats and propaganda) saw finally the symbol of the division of the world between East and West collapse. The great Russian cellist Mstislav Leopoldovich Rostropovich on November 9,1989 he improvised a concert in front of the "wall" that was about to be knocked down, playing a sort of requiem of the Cold War and the Soviet world, which was also crumbling. Go see you a video shot on this memorable day, with the guys on either side of the barricade laughing and crying. The story of Conrad Schumann and his leap of Hope is also moving.
 

The reunification and rebirth of the city

Caduta del muro di BerlinoOn 20 June 1991, Berlin returned to the capital of the united Germany, taking over the title from Bonn. The Reunification of the city in 1990, the work of total rebuilding the city underwent, helped to create, not only here but also all over the world, a feeling of hope in a better future. Despite the economic difficulties of the reunification of the two parts of the separate city and East Germany with West Germany, economic and social growth has gradually been growing again. The nineties marked a new era for the city, including tourism, with the whole world that began to rediscover it.
Visitors immediately think of returning to learn more about it, to visit the bohemian quarter or another "angry" and graffiti-filled neighborhood. There are also many young families who live here hoping to give their children a better and cosmopolitan future. If you are curious, you can read the page Where to live in Berlin? Or for other questions about the city you should be thinking about, we have tried to answer 101 questions and answers about Berlin.

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Brief history, culture and architecture

Chiesa di Kaiser WilhelmAlthough Berlin was founded in 1237, it was only in 1701 that it became the capital of Prussia, the strongest state within a myriad of states that formed what would become the German Empire, the Reich, united in 1871 by Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. From the 18th century, with Frederick the Great of Prussia, up to the problems that have had to be faced since the post-war period, the history of this city has profoundly marked urban architecture. A place completely satin to the ground after 1945, divided for 28 years by barbed wire, concrete walls and a sense of opposite life, is reborn by its ashes rediscovering its innovative nature. Today, with the opening of modern cultural centres and the revaluation of mythical sites such as the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (the largest central station in Europe), including events such as the 2006 World Cup final or the annual Berlinale International Film Festival, the city has reached its "security"moon. The architecture, influenced by the renovations following the damage of the last World War, is very varied. Inside the city centre, you pass from the few surviving medieval buildings near Alexanderplatz's spaces to the glass of the ultra-modern steel structures of Potsdamer Plats. Learn more about a short history of Berlin.
 

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Where is the "Wall"?

This is undoubtedly one of the most frequent questions of those who visit this city. What you can still see about the "Wall", which from 1961 to 1989 split into two Berlin, are only a few parts. In particular: a section near the so-called East Side Gallery (1.3 km of remaining graffiti-covered wall); a section on the famous Bernauer Strasse where the buildings were on the border and people were throwing themselves out of the windows to land in the west; a part of 80 metres of wall remaining near the Potsdamer Plats (at the end of Zimmerstraße street). In these areas you'll find photos and captions that make chills come along.

As we know, after the Second World War the city was divided into two parts, the western part controlled by the allies (Americans, French and English) and the eastern part controlled by the Soviet Union. Immediately after the war, millions of Germans moved from East Germany to West Germany and from east Berlin to the allied part. In order to stop what had become a real exodus, the first version of the wall began on the night between 12 and 13 August 1961. The shock of Berliners and the rest of the world was enormous, with entire groups of families, friends and relatives divided from day to night. The finished wall was 155 kilometres long. Two years later John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in the Rudolph Wilde Platz, in front of the Schöneberg Town Hall (Rathaus Schöneberg), made his famous speech in which one of the historical phrases of the 20th century is contained:"Ich bin ein Berliner", we are all Berliners.

The final version of the "wall" was actually a double wall, with a buffer zone that became sadly famous as the strip of death. The number of victims over the years has been between 150 and 250, depending on the studies. Only on 9 November 1989, after 28 years, and thanks to the positive changes that had taken place in the Soviet Union, the wall collapsed under the picks (and hammers) of the people and the borders were opened. The following year, on 3 October 1990, Germany was officially reunified. In a short time the world to the east was disappearing, with its Trabant, cononist illusion and houses all the same. If you want to explore this topic in more detail, read our in-depth studies: the Berlin Wall, Bernauer Strasse, and the East Side Gallery.

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The green little man at the traffic lights

Ampelmännchen - L'omino verde ai semafori di BerlinoIf there are not many tracks left of the Wall. You may see a green man with a hat on the traffic lights of the capital, used as a symbol for pedestrian crossings. It is called Ampelmännchen (in German literally "small traffic light man") is a symbol taken from East Germany survived the fall of the Wall and German reunification: a small casual man in a hat, who showed pedestrians in the German Socialist Republic (DDR) whether it was safe or not to cross the road... If you want to learn more about this Berlin icon, visit the Ampelmännchen page.

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The Mitte district and the Brandenburg Gate

Porta di BrandeburgoIf you are about to visit Berlin, you should know that the Mitte district is mostly in the historic centre of the city. Here you will find one of the city's icons, the Brandenburg Gate. The Brandenburger Tor, 26 metres high and 65 metres wide, is the only town gate still existing, the city's best-known monument, a symbol of united Germany. This gate marked the most famous border in the Cold War period between East and West Berlin from 1961 to 1989. It was built between 1788 and 1791 by Carl Gothard Langhans, who was inspired by the Propylaeans of the Acropolis of Athens. On top, as you can see from these photos, there is a copper quadriga, the work of Johann Gotfried Schadow, the same work that Napoleon brought to Paris in 1807, as a booty of war.

Porta di BrandeburgoAfter seven years, in 1814, the Prussians, after the disastrous Napoleonic campaign in Russia and the subsequent victory of the Sixth Anti-French Coalition, brought it back, and added the iron cross to the crown that surmounts the auction in the hands of the goddess of peace that you can still see today. The Gate and quadriga were seriously damaged during the Second World War and restored between 1956 and 1958. On 13 August 1961 the monument was closed by the German Democratic Republic's (DDR) barrier systems, remaining in the eastern part of the city. The quadriga, which looked west, was turned on the opposite side and then against the Berlin Wall. At the fall of the latter, the Brandenburg Gate was reopened on December 22,1989, with incredible celebrations, which many still remember with a good deal of emotion, but the horses continue to look eastwards...

Communicating Courtyards

Hackesche HöfeIn the early 1900s, in a fast-growing Berlin and the world's most densely populated city, many palaces were built to accommodate the growing number of inhabitants. These new large new residential blocks all had the characteristic of having interconnected courtyards. In Mitte, in the area known as Scheunenviertel, the Hackesche Höfe is the most famous of these courtyard systems. This courtyard system has become one of the city's most popular tourist attractions or is one of the favorite places even by Berliners. It is a series of 8 interconnecting courtyards, united together to form a single large complex with multiple uses ("Hof" in German means courtyard). They are within walking distance of Hackescher Markt's Berlin Underground Station and are packed with shops, restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues. The main entrance is at number 40 in Rosenthalerstrasse. The area is very popular with Berliners and visitors, and since the 1990s has attracted the people of locals... If you want to go into more detail, read more about Hakesche Höfe.

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Pariser Platz

Pariser Platz oggiThe square on which the Brandenburg Gate overlooks is the Pariser Platz, named after the already mentioned conquest of Paris by Prussian troops in 1814. The square was in the 19th century the good living room of the cultured Berlin bourgeoisie. The construction of the wall in 1961, after the destruction of the war, transformed it into an distressing no-one's land. After the reunification it was decided, not without controversy, to reconstruct it with buildings that recalled in size and appearance the original ones. It now houses several buildings, including a historic luxury hotel, the Adlon Hotel and the French Embassy in Germany, the Academy of Art and the Kennedy Museum. The house adjacent to the north wing of the Brandenburg Gate belonged to the Berlin painter Max Liebermann, who was born in 1847 and lived in Paris for a long time. Libermann made a decisive contribution to the emergence of Impressionism in Germany, became president of the Berlin Secession and the German Academy of Culture. He had to leave the latter office in 1933 as a Jew. He died in 1935 and his house was occupied by a Nazi gerarch.

Hotel Adlon Berlino

The impressive and elegant Hotel Adlon was the first of the buildings on the Pariser Platz to be rebuilt. Its original building, inaugurated in 1907, was frequented by crowned heads and figures such as Rockfeller, Einstein, Thomas Mann, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo and Enrico Caruso to name but a few. This part of the city centre, where Friedrichstrasse runs from north to south, was rich in hotels, theatres and shops at the beginning of the twentieth century; after the Second World War it was only a pile of rubble. Today the traces of these destructions, and of the division with the GDR, are erased, even if they remain imprinted in the memory of the people. Nearby, Wilhelmstrasse is also home to the Nazi power, chancellery and bunker 8 metres below, where Adolf Hitler took his life on 30 April 1945 (together with his partner Eva Braun).

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The long Lime Avenue, the Unter den Linden

Unter den Linden - Viale dei TigliFrom the Brandenburg Gate, the long Viale dei Tigli, the Unter den Linden, originally a runway that connected the royal palace with Tiergarten, the court hunting ground, was laid out as a boulevard in 1647 and decorated with rows of lime trees that gave it its name. In the nineteenth century it became the favourite walk of Berliners. Reduced in rubble by bombardments, it was rebuilt in the post-war period with anonymous buildings. Now you are trying to recreate the atmosphere of the past and rebuild the walk in the middle of the avenue, with kiosks and benches.

Il viale Strasse des 17 Juni, la continuazione dell'Unter dn Linden, taglia in due il Tiergarten, un grande parco cittadino di cui parliamo nel prossimo paragrafo.

The huge building in the Unter den Linden boulevard, number 50 to 66, is the Russian Embassy. At the crossroads with Friedrichstrasse there was the first Cafe Kranzler, the only place for special imperial pantry, with a terrace from where you can see the promenade. The Staatsbiliotheothek zu Berlin, the state library, by the famous architect Hans Scharoun, is also located on the Unter den Linden. The library, which boasts as many as 12 million volumes, manuscripts, documents and maps, has one of the 48 surviving specimens of the Gutenberg Bible. In 1985, Wim Wenders made it famous throughout the world, immortalizing it in his film Wings of Desire. At numbers 13-15 of the Unter den Linden, on the corner with Charlottenstrasse, there was until recently the Deutsche Guggenheim art gallery, with temporary exhibitions of the highest level.

The boulevard Strasse des 17 Juni, the continuation of the Unter dn Linden, cuts the Tiergarten, a large city park that we talk about in the next paragraph.
 

Tiergarten, the city's green lung

Monumento a Rosa Luxemburg - TiergartenTiergarten Park is the most beautiful park in Berlin and one of the largest urban parks in the world. Visitors strolling around the Tiergarten can enjoy a wide range of enchanting trails with wooded areas, busy lakes and meadows. With its 210 hectares, this park is the "green lung" of the German capital (the second largest after Grünewald forest). In Tiergarten, beneath the Lichtensteinbrücke (Ponte Lichtenstein), there is the monument dedicated to Rosa Luxemburg (big letters in relief) which marks the point where the famous revolutionary was murdered and thrown into the canal.
 

Poche centinaia di metri più a nord, un memoriale su un prato sulla riva del Neue See (Nuovo Lago) commemora l'assassinio del compagno della Luxemburg Karl Liebknecht. Anche lui fu uno dei fondatori del KPD (Partito Kommunist tedesco). Entrambi i monumenti e il Ponte di Lichtenstein sono stati progettati dalla coppia di architetti, Ralf Schüler e Ursulina Schüler-Witte alla fine degli anni ottanta.

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The Humboldt Universität

Still in the Mitte district, at the eastern end of the Unter den Linden, you will find the Humboldt Universität, Berlin's oldest university (although it only dates back to 1810), founded by the humanist Wilhelm von Humboldt. In this temple of knowledge, philosophers such as Fichte, Hegel, Shopenhauer, linguists such as brothers Grimm, physicists such as Max Planck and Albert Einstein, just to name a few. Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx also graduated here. The University is located in the former residence of Prince Henry, brother of Frederick The Great. You may be interested in the articles University in Berliny  and study in Germany.

Neue WacheNot far away is the Neue Wache (New Guard), a neoclassical monument dedicated to the "victims of war and dictatorships". Also the work of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, it was built by Frederick William III of Prussia in 1816 as the seat of the royal guard and as a monument in memory of soldiers who died during the Napoleonic wars. This monument has always been considered more or less like a mausoleum to the Unknown Soldier; depending on historical periods, its role has always been slightly redefined: during the period of the Weimar Republic, for example, it was dedicated to the victims of World War I, during the GDR to the victims of anti-fascism.

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The Gendarmenmarkt, the French cathedral and the German cathedral

Gendarmenmarkt a BerlinoContinuing on to the Gendarmenmarkt, a fine eighteenth-century square with its extensive airy mountainous terrain. The square, which also houses the statue of the poet Schiller, is considered one of the most beautiful in Germany for the harmony of its monuments. It is also a suitable place for a break in one of the many bars and restaurants that overlook it. At the centre is the theatre built for the German monarchs by Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1818, the Shauspielhaus, faithfully rebuilt after the war and today an important concert hall for the city, known as Konzerthaus.

On the sides of the square are two beautiful twin churches, the French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) and the German Cathedral (Deuscher Dom). The first church was built for the community of Huguenots, the French Protestants who, after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, found refuge in Berlin and Brandenburg towards the end of the 17th century. The building is dominated by a cylindrical tower with a dome, built in 1785 to the design of Carl von Gontard, identical to that of the German Cathedral; you can climb up and admire the view of the city. Today the church houses a museum dedicated to the history of Huguenots (read on the Gendarmenmarkt). The latter, invited to Berlin by Prince Elector Frederick William I of Brandenburg, Calvinist himself, were skilled craftsmen, especially in the textile and jewellery sector. The city soon gained a prominent position in the city, influencing its economic and cultural life, thought in 1700 20% of Berliners were French (!).

The Deuscher Dom was built for the German-speaking Calvinist community. Today its interior, rebuilt in a modern style, houses a permanent exhibition on parliamentary democracy. During the Christmas holidays, from Advent to New Year's Eve, the Gendarmenmarkt features a Christmas market and a large ice skating rink. Spending Christmas in Berlin is obviously very interesting, with so many cultural events, children's shows and dozens of markets around the city.

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The Historical Museum of Germany

ZeughausThe oldest building in the Unter den Linden that has been built to date is the Zeughaus (Ancient Arsenal). It was built by Frederick III of Brandenburg from 1695 to 1730 in Baroque style for use as an arsenal of artillery. It was later transformed into a military museum in 1875. Here every March Hitler celebrated the speech for the "Day of Memory", Volkstrauertag (for the German fallen in World War I). In 1952, the government of the GDR converted him to the German History Museum (communist history of Germany). Today after the unification has become the Historical Museum of Germany. The courtyard of the building is very particular with 22 dramatic masks of dying warriors by Andreas Schluter.
 

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Another beautiful square, Bebelplatz

BebelplatzAnother beautiful square in the Mitte district is Bebelplatz. The square should have become the centre of the Forum Fridericiarum, an area with ancient Roman-style buildings designed by Georg Wenzelaus von Knobelsdorff. In Frederick the Great's classical idea, he should have been the centre of his Berlin, with a series of buildings that symbolized the freedom of science, arts and religion. The project was not completed, however, but the square remains very beautiful.

Rogo dei libri BerlinoAll buildings, seriously damaged during the war, were rebuilt in the 1950s and 1960s. At the centre of the square, dominated by the Alte Bibliotek, is a monument of the Israeli Micha Ullmann in the paving that recalls the burning of books here on 10 May 1933 in the presence of Goebbels (to which, unfortunately, the students of the nearby university participated). Here they burned about 25,000 volumes considered "dangerous" by the Nazis. Next to Ullmann's monument is a plaque with a quote from Heinrich Heine:"When the books are burned, people will eventually be burned as well." There are many historical buildings on the square: the Opera Palace, the Deutsche Staatsoper, St. Hedwigs Cathedral (St-Hedwigs-Kathedrale); opposite the cathedral, the Equestrian Statue of Frederick the Great and the already mentioned Humboldt Universität.


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Berlin Opera House

Staatsoper Unter den LindenThe Berlin Opera House was commissioned by Frederick II in 1741, was one of the works of the Fredericianum Forum project we have just talked about. The theatre was officially inaugurated with Heinrich Graun's performance in "Caesar and Cleopatra" in 1742. Almost a century after its opening, in 1842, the State Opera under Gottfried Wilhelm Taubert, began the tradition of holding symphonic concerts. That year the composer Felix Mendelssohn participated in several of the most important productions. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the Opera was already established as a musical institution on the world stage and had hosted first performances by composers such as Felix von Weingartner, Richard Strauss and Leo Blech. After a crisis after the end of World War I, in the early 1920s, the Opera was significantly renewed and the presence of world-renowned conductors and composers such as Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, Alexander Zemlinsky and Bruno Walter contributed to bring it back to the international music scene. In 1945, in a Berlin devastated by bombs, Herbert von Karajan conducted his last concert with the Staatskapelle, the Opera Symphony Orchestra. After a period of decadence following the destruction of the war, after reunification, the Opera has returned to its normal repertoire with particular attention to Baroque opera. In the early 1990s it was renamed Staatsoper Unter den Linden and Daniel Barenboim was appointed music director.

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Museum Island, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Isola dei MuseiOne of the places not to be missed in the Mitte district is the Museumsinsel, the Museum Island, in the northern part of the island on the river Spree, in the heart of the city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its unique characteristics. The name "museum island" is due to the large number of world-class museums built over a century, from 1822 to 1930, on a reclaimed marshy area. The oldest museum on the island is the Altes Museum, the old museum, built from 1822 by the aforementioned architect Schinkel to house the collection of antiquities of Federico Guglielmo III.

Busto di NefertitiThe Neues Museum, the new museum, was built in 1855. Completely destroyed during the war and ruined until 1986, it was rebuilt the same as the original and reopened at the end of 2009. It houses the Egyptian collection, including the famous Bust of Nefertiti.

In 1876 the Alte Nationalgalerie, the old national gallery, was inaugurated to exhibit the collection of nineteenth century works of art donated by banker Joachim H. Wagener. Even this building, half-decreased by the war, reopened only in 2001, after a long restoration. In addition to works of German Romanticism by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Karl Blechen and Caspar David Friedrich, the collection, which was dispersed and recomposed after the war, includes works by Arnold Böcklin, Adolph von Menzel and Max Liebermann. In addition to these artists, there are works by French Impressionists such as Édouard Manet and Claude Monet. In 1907 the Bode Museum was opened in 1907, recognizable for its dark copper dome, exhibiting early Christian, Byzantine and late ancient art works and most of the collections of the German Egyptian Museum. It houses among others the Münzkabinett, the Numismatic Cabinet, one of the most important numismatic collections in the world, with over 500 thousand pieces.

The last museum to be built in this area was the fantastic Pergamon Museum. Unique of its kind, completed in 1930, this archaeological museum takes its name from the city of Pergamon in Anatolia and houses monumental buildings rebuilt to natural dimensions, such as the Altar of Pergamon, the Market Gate of Miletus and the Gate of Ishtar. Seeing these life-size architectures is a must-see experience that happens in few other places around the world. These museums are not only works of art in themselves, but also very pleasant places where you can spend a day among bookshops, cafes and restaurants where you can take a moment of reflection during your visit to the city. See the list of all museums in Berlin.

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A very famous social centre

Kunsthaus Tacheles (Casa dell’arte Tacheles)An alternative cultural place in Berlin? Take a look at what was once the Kunsthaus Tacheles, a Berlin artist's house, the most active social centre since 1990. A creative and stimulating environment, a building occupied by artists who prevented its demolition, located in Oranienburger Straße. At the forefront of the urban art scene for several years, the building housed 30 ateliers, an arthouse cinema, the famous Café Zapata and free concert, theatre and dance venues. The past is a must, the building can no longer be visited inside. Many young artists grew up here between 1990 (year of occupation) and 2012, the year of police clearance. To stay for a while was that great and beautiful mural, which in its simplicity and immediacy, asked "How long is now?" a sentence in English with a double meaning:' how much time has passed?', but also 'how long does the present time last, the moment we are living? Read on: Kunsthaus Tacheles.

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The legendary Alexanderplatz

AlexanderplatzOn your tour of the Mitte district, you can't fail to visit Alexanderplatz, Berlin's iconic square, which has always been one of the most animated places. A borderline between historic Berlin and socialist Berlin, a daily hub of hundreds of thousands of people. It took its current name in 1805, on the occasion of the visit of Tsar Alexander I. In the 1920s, the square was together with Potsdamer Platz, the heart of Berlin at night. Read also nightlife in Berlin. He described well that period in 1929 Alfred Döblin, who immortalized it with his novel, Berlin Alexanderplatz, the first German metropolitan novel, about the years of the Weimar Republic that preceded Nazism, from which two films were taken, the last of which was by Rainer Werner Fassbinder in 1980.

AlexanderplatzThe square, largely destroyed during the war, was rebuilt in the 1960s and was located in the part of Berlin administered by the GDR. Alexanderplatz is surrounded by several famous buildings, including the Fernsehturm, the Television Tower, the second highest structure of its kind in Europe. At the center of the square is the 1969 Universal Clock, a structure that rotates continuously showing the hour in the various areas of the Earth and the great Fountain of Friendship, also in 1969, once the meeting place of young punk. The two twin buildings on the west side of the old square, Alexanderhaus and Berolinahaus, and Haus des Lehrers, remain of the old square. The first two built between 1929 and 1932 on the design of Peter Behrens are today under protection for their artistic characteristics to be preserved. The Haus des Lehrers (teacher's house), built in 1962, was the first post-war building in the square. During the Peace Revolution in 1989, which led to the fall of the wall, the demonstration on 4 November that year was the largest gathering in the history of East Germany. The Berliners simply call this square Alex. See also Alexanderplatz article.

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The Reichstag, the seat of the German federal parliament

ReighstagNot far from the Brandenburg Gate is another of the city's symbols, the Reichstag, the seat of the German Federal Parliament, the Bundestag. Built on a design by the German architect of Huguenotte origin, Paul Wallot, between 1884 and 1894, as the seat of the German Reich parliament, before German reunification he was located right next to the Berlin Wall. Its history has marked the recent history of Germany. In 1933 a fire destroyed him to a large extent. It was never clear how the fire broke out, but the Communists were blamed. This gave a decisive boost to Hitler's German National Socialist Party (Nazi) for the seizure of power in Germany. The rebuilt building was even more damaged at the end of the war.

Foto con il soldato dell'Armata Rossa sul ReichstagThe photo with the soldier of the Red Army who auctioned the Soviet flag of the building, after the conquest of the city by the Russians, became one of the most famous photos of the twentieth century, symbolizing the end of Nazism, the defeat of Germany and the Nazi nightmare. That soldier was called Abdulkhakim Ismailov and lived in the southern province of Dagestan, died recently in February 2010 at the age of 93. At the end of the war, the Reichstag ended, in the division of the city, in West Berlin, very close to the wall. It was rebuilt between 1958 and 1972, but the central dome and most of the ornaments were removed. Before reunification, the parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany met here symbolically once a year, indicating that Bonn was only a temporary capital.

Immediately after German reunification, a decision was taken to move the Bundenstag back to Berlin, which was completed in 1999. A glass dome was added to Norman Foster's project, which overlooks the parliament's planetary chamber. At first this addition was very controversial, but in a few years it became one of the most famous icons of the city in the world. Today, a jump upwards from the famous glass dome on the rooftop terrace is a' must' from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Tiergarten park (the German capital is one of the greenest cities in Europe, with over 60% of its green surface) but expect strict security checks and long queues. For further information see our page dedicated to the Reichstag.

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Night falls in Berlin, what you do, where you go

Berlino notturnaMost of the entertainment venues are in the city centre (the districts of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Neukölln), but the eastern part of the city has many beautiful nightclubs. Friedrichshain is one of its most up-and-coming neighborhoods, along with the most famous Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg, one of the city's most fashionable areas. A leap towards the Boxhagener Strasse and Simon-Dach Strasse and it is difficult to imagine today that this was the heart of East Berlin, a borderline between desires and dreams of freedom. Read more about Friedrichshain. Read also Nightlife in Berlin.

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Boat trip

Berlino area MitteA great way to discover Berlin, being the city full of bridges and canals, is by boat. The duration of the trips varies from one to three hours. The main embarkation points are close to Charlottenburg Castle and Berlin Cathedral, but there are others scattered throughout the city. From the boat you can get a first idea of the city, a sort of sightseeing panoramic tour during which you can choose what to see in Berlin. Read also What to see in Berlin for free.
 

Movies about Berlin

Quali film sono stati girati a Berlino?The German capital is also one of the European film centres, with more than 1100 movie and television production companies and over 270 cinemas around the city. The Berlin Film Festival is, together with Cannes and Venice, one of the three most important film festivals in the world, and is even first in terms of number of viewers and number of feature films screened. The main venue for the event is Potsdamer Platz. Hundreds of films have been shot in this endless city, let's mention: Metropolis by Fritz Lang, The Last Laught by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, The Blue Angel (Der blaue Engel) by Josef von Sternberg, Germany, year zero by Roberto Rossellini in 1948, all the way to his contemporaries Wings of Desire by Wim Wenders in 1987, Lola Run by Tom Tykwer in 1998, Good Bye, Lenin! by Wolfgang Becker in 2003, The lives of others (Das Leben der Anderen) by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck in 2006. If you want to get to know this city better also through films, read article the Film  set in Berlin and the page dedicated to the Berlin Film Festival and events.
 

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Books set in Berlin

Berlin Alexanderplatz di Alfred DöblinBefore you come to the German capital, you can learn a lot about this city by reading some books. As is to be expected also the books set in this city are a multitude. The history of the city and European history, with the vicissitudes of Nazism, the Second World War, the Cold War, the Berlin Wall which divided the city in two, have often intertwined. Among the books that have as background the German capital there are Every Man Dies Alone in 1947 by Hans Fallada (also known as Solo in Berlin), Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin, published in 1929 and The Innocent by the English writer Ian McEwan, published in 1990. All three deal with periods crucial to the history of the city, the Weimar Republic years, Döblin's novel, the Nazi period in Fallada's novel and that of the Cold War in Döblin. If you would like to go further, visit the Berlin Books page.
 

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Finally shopping and excursions in the surroundings

Quali sono i migliori mercati dell'usato di Berlino?Berlin is the paradise of shopping, you will find not only large shopping malls and designer shops but also many second-hand shops, markets and craft shops. The main ways to shop? Read here: Shopping routes. Would you like to find some second hand opportunities? Here are the best flea markets in Berlin. After having walked your route, and drunk a good artisan beer and tasted the Currywurst (the typical specialty of Berlin, a grilled pork sausage cut into washers, seasoned with a sauce based on tomato concentrate and curry) if you have a little time left and still want to take a break from the big metropolis, know that there are many things to see in its surroundings. Visit the incredible park and palace complex of Sanssouci (the German Versailles, see our article on the Sanssouci Palace) in Postdam, built as a summer residence for Federico il Grande, which can be easily reached from the centre of Berlin with a short journey by the S-Bahn metro system. Don't forget to visit the picturesque Spreewald, where the Slavic Slav minority of Sorbians keep their traditions alive in idyllic and charming villages.
 

Just Arrived

As soon as you landed at one of the two airports in the city, you will have to organise your way to the city centre. Here is a brief guide that will certainly help you: How to get from the Airport to the Centre.

 

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The following resources may be useful:
1. Visitberlin. de/it Official website for tourism
2. Italian Embassy in Berlin

Bibliography
Berlin - Damien Simonis - National Geographic - 2012
Berlin - Portrait of a city - Norbert Schürer - 2014
Berlin - Petra Dubilski - 2007
Berlin - History of a metropolis - Alexandra Richie - 2003

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