Sightseeing guide for Berlin

Spandau Citadel

Finished in 1594 after 34 years of construction, the Italian style Citadel is situated on a small island on the Havel river and was designed to command the water next to the Spree. You can wander for free around the citadel, which has been used in the past as a prison and laboratory. A visit to the galleries and the two museum exhibitions is an excellent choice for those who wish to learn about art. The most interesting place for visitors is the 12th century Juliusturm which as well as being the oldest non-religious building in Berlin, is the place where the 120 million Reichsmark imperial war treasure was stored until 1919.

Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate has become the ultimate symbol of Berlin and of the German reunification. Completed in 1791, its purpose was to serve as the main entrance to the city and to mark the beginning of the avenue "Unter den Linden". The design is based on the "propylea" of the Acropolis in Athens and perched on top is a copy of Johann Gottfried Schadow/s copper sculpture, Quadriga. The sculpture has had a most turbulent history, completed and installed in 1791, it was captured and removed by the triumphant Napoleonic army when it entered Berlin in 1806. It was returned 8 years later when Napoleon was defeated and sat atop the Gate until it was destroyed during the course of World War II.

Victory Column

Erected at the request of Kaiser Wilhelm to commemorate the Prussian victories over France, Austria and Denmark, the huge gold-covered statue of the goddess of victory stands 69 metres high. This statue originally stood in front of the Reichstag since 1873, but it was inconvenient for Hitler's mass rallies. As a result, it was uprooted in 1939 and transported to her current spot overlooking the Zoo (Tiergarten). The winged figure atop the column is the Goddess of Victory.

Bebel Platz

Formerly known as Opernplatz, this square opposite Humboldt University was to be the Forum Fridericianum, enclosed by a city palace, an academy and an opera house. Under the threat of war, Friedrich only managed to build the Opera house. In 1933 the Nazis held their first official book burning there, incinerating works of authors who were on the anti-Nazi "index". This event is remembered by the artwork in the centre of the square - a glass panel through which can be seen a room lined with empty, white bookshelves.

Neue Wache

From its completion in 1818 until the demise of the monarchy in 1918, the Neue Wache, built by Schinkel for Friedrich Wilhelm III, actually was the Royal Guardhouse. Since 1931, it was considered a monument for those who fell in World War I, but during the Nazi period it was used by them as a monument for the Nazi heroes. The concept changed again and nowadays it is considered as a memorial to the victims of fascism and militarism.

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is a copy of Versailles and was built from 1695 to 1800. The palace garden complex is one of the most beautifully laid out parks in Berlin. Charlottenburg is also worth a visit for the museums within its walls and nearby. The Museum for Primeval and Early History occupies the west wing, and across the road are the Egyptian Museum and the Berggruen Collection ("Picasso and his time"). The Romantic Gallery gives a good impression of the interior of the palace.

German State Opera

The German State Opera was designed by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff following the style of a Greek temple and built in 1743 it was the first major victim of World War II bombing when in 1941 it was consumed by flames. The inscription "Fridericus Rex Apolloni et Musis" refers to Friederich's dedication of the building as a temple to Apollo and the Muses. Performances continue to attract large audiences.

The Reichstag Building

No building in Germany has undergone quite as many political and structural transformations as the Reichstag. The Reichstag has closely escaped destruction many times during its 100 year history, and although it has undergone some major transformations over the years it has never lost its symbolic political meaning for the German people. After reunification in 1991 the Bundestag decided that Berlin should once again become the seat of German government, so the building is now once again home of the German Parliament. The newly constructed metal glass dome over the parliamentary chamber offers good rooftop views over the city.

New Synagogue

Gleaming over the rooftops of the trendy Scheunenviertel is the impressive golden dome of the Neue Synagogue. This was once the heart of Jewish Berlin. Due to the bravery of a local police officer, the synagogue was almost completely spared from the destruction of Kristallnacht in 1938, but sadly fell victim to allied bombing in the late stages of the war. After the restoration of the dome and facade, the complex was opened to the public in 1995. The small museum contains fragments of the synagogue found during excavations, and provides a glimpse through glass walls into the vast space which used to enclose the sanctuary.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

The original neo-romanesque structure, built in honour of Kaiser Wilhelm I, was partially destroyed by the allied bombing in 1943 leaving only the west tower. Its octagonal shape and multitude of blue stained glass windows are certainly very striking, if a little out of place, but the feeling of calm created within is to be sampled.

Shell House

The Shell Haus was built in 1930 and was one of the first steel framed buildings to appear in Berlin. The lightness of style and use of glass provide a major contrast to the Nazi architecture built later in the 30's.

East Side Gallery

This is the longest section of the Wall that is still standing, and possibly also the longest gallery in the world. Originally painted by over 100 German and international artists shortly after reunification, the harsh Berlin weather and a growing amount of grafitti have taken their toll over the past ten years. Many of the panels have political themes, which have been preserved in the new incarnation.

Alexander Platz

Alexanderplatz is actually something like a sample of work of East and West Berlin. Two pre-war buildings still remain on the platz: the Berolinahaus and the Alexanderhaus, both designed by Peter Behrens in the early 30's. On the northeastern edge of the square is the metalic Kaufhof department store. The "Fernsehturm" which towers up from the other side of the square offers a spectacular view to the whole city.

Television Tower (Fernsehturm)

Visible from almost every location in the city, Berlin's Television Tower, at a height of 368 metres, is the third-tallest building in Europe. It was built in the late 1960's. When the sun shines on the tower the reflection in the silver ball at the top forms the shape of a cross. There is also a cafe at the top of the tower at a height of 207m which makes a whole circle of 360 degrees.


At the entrance is the 23m long frieze "Totentanz" (Dance of Death) portraying death in 14 different disguises to raise our attention to the fact that, on this earth, we are all equal in the eyes of God.

Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz is one of the crucial squares of Berlin with its luxurious hotels and restaurants and has been the busiest crossroad in Europe during the 1920's. Having suffered almost total destruction during World War II, the Postdamer Platz was later to be divided in two by the Berlin Wall. Among the buildings that impress around this square is the futuristic steel and glass architecture of the Sony Center which houses offices, apartments and an urban entertainment centre.

New National Gallery

The New National Gallery is an impressive, minimalistic building: a glass room with a steel roof that is supported by 6 thin, internal columns. The permanent collection is located on the basement of the building, whereas in the spacious, glass room temporary exhibitions are housed. The collection of the New National Gallery hosts 20th century works of art from artists like Kokoshka and many more. All german eras in painting are also displayed here. The Bauhaus era is represented by Klee and Kadinski. You will also have the chance to admire works of ther european artists such as Dali, Picasso, Magrit, Ernst and de Kiriko. In the garden area there are many sculptures.

Red Town Hall

The Town Hall was designed by Waesemann between 1861-1869. The architect was influenced by the italian, renaissance state halls, but the Tower remids more to the Cathedral of Lyon in France. The walls are made of red brick and this is why it was called Red Town Hall and not because of the political beliefs if the mayors.

Pergamon Museum

The Pergamon museum was built between 1912 and 1930 according to plans of Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hofmann. One of the most important and famous collections of arts of work are housed here. The museum owes its name to the altar of Pergamon which has been transferred here on its whole. There are 3 main theme collections in this museum: the antiquity collection, with Greek and Roman works of art, the antiquity collection of the Far East and the museum of Islamic art. The altar of Pergamon was part of the bigger complex, sample of which is displayed in the museum. The collection also includes a part of the temple of Victory Athena. Moreover you will be able to admire excellent works of scupltury by ancient Greek and Roman sculptors as well as findings from Samos, Militos and Naxos. Roman architecture is represented by the impressive gate of Militos market that dates back to the 2nd century B.C. One of the most amazing exhibits in this museum is the gate of Istar to ancient Babylon. The lions and the majority of the shiny tiles are original. Exhibits from Persia, Syria and Palaistine are also on display here. The islamic art section houses the 45 meter facade from the palace in the desert of Jordan.

Sans Souci Palace

In French Sans Souci means "without worries". This rococo palace was built in 1745 according to plans of Frederick the second in cooperation with the architect Knobbelsdorf. Highlights of the palace are the paintings of the collection of Frederick the Great.

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