Berlin is like heaven on Earth—a city with a colorful past and a thriving future. It was not always heaven on Earth, but it has succeeded in rising from the ashes (literally) and becoming a multi-cultural epicenter heading towards a bright future while keeping pieces of the past intact. I believe David Bowie said it best when he described Berlin as “the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.”
Berlin is a place where the present is an everyday reminder of what happened in the past. The people of Berlin have perseverance, just like the city itself. It is crucial to visit the Holocaust Memorial, right near the Brandenburg Gate, which is open 24 hours a day. It is a maze that is designed with varying sizes of stone slabs. When you walk through it, you will essentially feel alone, lost and confused, just as the Holocaust prisoners did when they were taken to the concentration camps. American artist Peter Eisenman even encourages people to walk around it late at night to experience the full impact of the design.
But there are plenty of other amazing things to do and try here—especially the chocolate. It’s also absolutely essential that everyone take a stroll around East Berlin at night. Remnants of wartime graffiti still remain, and there are some interesting drawings to be marveled at. In a way, visiting these sites feels like time traveling. And after a long, cold day of exploring, underneath the TV tower is a 24-hour döner kebab place where you must go have döner (lamb) kebab and hot chocolate. The weather in Berlin may be brutal, but the city’s charm and culture have the capability of warming hearts—and if not, the hot chocolate most certainly will.
Unter den Linden’s tree-lined street showcases some of the most beautiful architecture in Berlin as well as great shopping and Humboldt University. From here, it is easy to find Berlin’s premiere museums, including Museum Island, which houses the Pergamon Museum, and the Jewish Museum, which was designed by architect Daniel Liebeskind, winner of the 2003 competition to become master plan architect for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center.
“Ich bin ein Berliner:” the famous line uttered by John F. Kennedy. The very spot where he stood can be seen at Rathaus Schöneberg. Also, there are tourist attractions like the Fernsehturm in Alexanderplatz (TV tower) and the East Side Gallery, which houses art from the remains of the Berlin Wall. Another place to visit is the Reichstag building which seats Germany’s parliament. Its dome is an iconic ode to modern architecture.
But let me throw you for a loop. Have you ever heard of gypsy punk? Kaffee Burger is a true landmark for gypsy punk lovers. It’s the place to go for some outlandish fun and to hear some unusual music, like the accordion. This is only the beginning of what Berlin has to offer. It truly is a unique experience to everyone who visits. There may be many misconceptions about Berlin, but if good food, nice people, history, and adventure are what you seek, then look no further than Berlin.
Story and Photos by Brianna Bisogno