14 December 2014, Nirapad News : 25 years after the fall of the Wall, Berlin is “the coolest capital city in the world”. Yup Berlin is our number 19 in the World’s top 20 best cities.
What does Berlin have that other world cities don’t? Well, first of all, there are the locals, whose rough yet friendly charm is all part of the Berlin experience. Add to that an incredible array of sights that reflect not only the city’s newfound swagger but also its great history and the dramatic events of the 20th century.
Summer is by far the best season to visit Berlin. The city’s residents take full advantage of the decent weather to hit the streets, rivers and lakes and partake in endless events across the city.
Since the fall of its world-renowned Wall, Berlin has busied itself with becoming one of the most stimulating creative and cultural centres in Europe. These days it’s a city of many faces, known equally as a hedonistic hub (parties here can go on for days rather than hours), a magnet for history buffs (the city was at the heart of much of the turbulent 20th century) and, increasingly, as a destination for families thanks to a wealth of green spaces that includes the sprawling Tiergarten, the Sunday flea market at Mauerpark and the Volkspark Friedrichshain.
There are lots of outdoor playgrounds and plenty of attractions to keep the little ones occupied. And despite the cheap (but rising) rents and bohemian reputation, there’s also a lot on offer for well-heeled and business travellers, from ritzy hotels and classy boutiques to Michelin-starred dining spots.
Few places to visit:
Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)
The Brandenburger Tor is one of Germany’s most visited landmarks and an icon of the city of Berlin. During its more than 300-year history, it has played many different roles. It has been a symbol for peace, war, victory, terror and war all over (that time the cold one) and since 1989 it stands for the reunification of Germany. Here, Ronald Reagan said his famous words: “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”.
The Wall was mostly demolished between June and November 1990 although a restored stretch remains along the southern border of Wedding and Mitte. Visit Checkpoint Charlie, the famous east-west border control during the Cold War and now a tourist centre, for comprehensive display boards telling the Wall’s story. For more of a visual history, take a walk along the Wall by the Spree, where it runs between the Freidrichshain-Kreuzberg districts. Whereas graffiti has been removed from the northern section of the Wall, the one-mile stretch known as the East Side Gallery is dedicated to art and preserves the paintings made on the eastern side when the Wall was brought down.
Grunewald is Berlin’s largest forested area, to the south-west of Charlottenburg and easily accessible via S-bahn. Pack a picnic and head down here for a day of tranquil respite from the bustle of the city. Venture through the woods by foot, bicycle or on horseback and, if weather permits, take a dip in the clean waters of Schlachtensee or Wannsee, the nearest of the forest’s several freshwater lakes. Look out for Teufelsberg, a man-made hill rising above the woodland, constructed by the Allies after World War II from the city’s rubble. Although there’s no general access to the hill, you can get to the top of the hill by going on a guided tour.
At the eastern end of Unter den Linden is Museum Island, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site lying in the middle of the Spree. It’s home to five of Berlin’s most important museums: two not to be missed are the Neues Museum, home to the Egyptian bust of Nefertiti and the spectacular Pergamonmuseum, one of the world’s major archaeological museums. Within it you walk through a series of astounding structures, from a partial recreation of the Pergamon Altar (170–159 BC) to the two-storey Roman Gate of Miletus (29 metres wide and almost 17 metres high) and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, dating from the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar (605–563 BC). Tucked away upstairs is the Islamic Art collection, a treasure trove. A day ticket is available permitting entrance to each museum.
Fernsehturm (TV Tower)
The Fernsehturm was built in the late 1960ies in what used to be East Berlin. With its 368 meters it’s the tallest structure in Germany. From the observation deck you have a breathtaking view over Berlin, at clear visibility up to 42 kilometers. Maybe you’ve been told that the Fernsehturm is called “Telespargel” or maybe you’ve heard some other strange nicknames. Fact is: everybody just calls it “Fernsehturm”, although different political regimes and media have tried to assign one or the other nickname.
Visit again for our number 18 in the countdown for the top 20 best cities in the world.