Browsing articles tagged with " Germany"

The Prussia of Frederick II

Berlin, February 2015

He is one of the members of the Hohenzollern dynasty, who is still very present in the collective imagination of the Germans. Frederick II, “Frederick the Great”… “old Fritz” (1712-1786), different names for a king who -no fear to exaggerate- can be considered as a turning point in the evolution of the German history, without which neither Berlin or Germany can be explained or understand.

His father’s shadow

Frederick William I (1688-1740), a man with a strict character, would mold Fritz’s personality with fire. He imposed him a military education for which the prince showed little interest. On the contrary, what really caught his eye was philosophy, literature and, in general terms, the arts and thinking originated in the refined France. The atittude of the father towards his son, to whom he used to humiliate in public and in private, phychic and physically, would lead him to plot a plan to escape with his best friend -and maybe lover, Hans von Katte. The plan was aborted and the king had von Katte beheaded, obliging his son to witness the execution. The prince himself, who was 18 at the time, was about to be executed on that day.

Frederick II would be crowned at the death of this father. Through his 46 years of reign, he combined his military skills with his passion for arts and science; at the Sanssouci Palace, in Potsdam, crucial figures like Voltaire, La Mettrie and Maupertuis used to share with the king evenings of discussions about the deepest topics. Frederick’s most outstanding feature, without a doubt, is he brought the Enlightenment in his territories. Somehow, the clash between he and his father was a reflex of the collision between the absolute monarchy incarnated by Frederick William I and the open window to a new era, that Frederick II represented.

If you would like to learn more about this fascinating character, do not miss this great documentary! Click here.

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The German university (1/2)

Berlin, 8 April 2013

This time in a double article, we offer you some information about the university system in Germany. In case you are considering moving to this country to start with (or continue) your studies, do not miss the information. You should start by checking the website of DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service): -Here you will find information on the courses of studies in the country, also in what languages you can study (both English and German), and many others. Being German quite a difficult language for foreigners, you should know not few Bachelor, Master and PhD programmes can be followed in English. Good, right? 😉

Some 15.000 foreigners studied in German universities within the first years of the 21st century. The number has currently reached 40.000 students, due mainly to the crisis, which is affecting in a hard way some European countries. Of course, also the image of Germany as a country with a low unemployment quote plays a role. By the way, China is the country with the most (foreign) students in Germany.

Besides the crisis and the job opportunities in the country, also the fees are a reason for many to choose Germany. Actually, only in two out of the 16 federal regions (länder) of the country must a “university tax” be paid; in most of Germany, 200 Euros/semester are the only cost at public universities.

In the second part of the article, we will offer you information on a few of the most famous universities in Germany!

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“A” as in airports (of Germany)

Berlin, 26 February 2013

The so called “low cost” companies are no longer what they used to be, but flying is still a reasonable way to travel to Germany, even if arriving from a European country. Here you have some information about the airports to reach Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne:

Germany’s capital city, Berlin, has postponed four times the opening of its new airport, “Berlin Brandenburg International” (BER)*. This facility will replace the current airports of Schönefeld (actually, the one under construction is an extension of this) and Tegel, due to shut on the same day of the opening of BER. In the meantime, and after the historical Tempelhof closed down back in 2008, Tegel and Schönefeld are the two gates to enter Berlin by plane. Most flights operate to/from Tegel, but low cost companies like EasyJet are based in Schönefeld.

Tegel airport is located in Berlin (AB zone of the public transportation tickets), whereas Schönefeld is outside the city boundaries, in the neighbouring land of Brandenburg (C zone). From Tegel, it takes some 20 minutes to reach Zoologischer Garten (bus lines X9 and 109), and about 30 min. to Alexanderplatz (line TXL). This central square can be reached from Schönefeld in only 20 minutes, on board a regional train (lines RE7 or RB14), but in over half an hour by travelling on the S-Bahn (urban network), considering change of trains at Ostkreuz or Warschauer Straße stations.

Both airports, all together, welcomed in 2012 some 25 million passengers (London Heathrow 70 million, 105 million all three New York airports).

Hamburg is the second city in Germany and it takes only 1.30 hours to reach from Berlin. Nonetheless, more practical to get there is through its airport: with the line S1 of the S-Bahn, you will arrive at the city’s central station (Hauptbahnhof) in just 25 minutes. Or you can take any of this bus lines: 26, 39, 274 and 292. Other advisable airports are the one in Lübeck, connected with downtown Hamburg through the bus line A20, and that in Bremen, which also has a connexion with Hamburg in some 90 minutes (check the website of bus2fly).

As for Munich, its airport is connected to the city’s Hauptbahnhof (main station) with lines S1 and S8 of the S-Bahn. The journey takes about 45 minutes with both lines, and from the Hauptbahnhof you can reach the rest of the city with the metro (U-Bahn) lines U1, U2, U4 and U5. Another option to get to Munich is through Memmingen airport: although it is located 110 kilometers away from Munich, Ryanair offers several bus connexions between the airport and the city center.

Finally, Cologne is very easily accessible through Cologne‘s airport (officially, “Köln/Bonn”), with the S-Bahn line S13 to/from the city’s Hauptbahnhof: you will only need 15 minutes! The station, by the way, is located next to the city’s famous, wonderful Cathedral (Dom, in German).

Now you know what you need to know, when you prepare your trip to Germany! But before you land here, do not hesitate contact us and our private tours and services in English, to discover Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Cologne, amongst other cities (our e-mail: Our tours are the best in town, and besides you do not want German to be a problem for you, do you? 😉

*We have dealt with the future Berlin airport in two articles: Berlin Brandenburg International and BER, an airport not taking off.

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The faces of horror

Berlin, February 4, 2013

Herta, Hildegard, Irene… the women on this picture could have been innovator scientists, prolific authors or virtuoso musicians, happy housewives or friendly shopkeepers, but for their life’s script they chose a cruel role instead: guards in the nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen. They were not the only ones: about 4,000 women performed functions of Aufseherinnen also in camps like Auschwitz and Ravensbrück.

The photo was taken back in April 1945, short after the British army occupied this camp, where more than 50,000 died within a few years. Herta, Hildegard, Irene and other Aufseherinnen did their best to make the lifes of thousands of detainees worse than the worst nightmare, killing them of starvation, cold or torture. Perhaps Herta, Hildegard or Irene where directly responsible for Anna Frank’s death at age 15, or that of her sister Margot at 19. They both died in Bergen-Belsen only two months before the nazis lost the war. Only two months.

At the same location where the Secret State Police (Gestapo) was based between 1933 and 1945, a place known amongst the Berlin citizens as the “house of horror”, the “Topography of Terror” can be visited. The permanent exhibition focuses on the SS (the “Protection Squadron”), the police and the institutions through which the Third Reich frightened the population and kept the policital opponent at bay, which in many cases meant to kill them. Rests of the cells where the detaineed where interrogated and tortured can also be visited.

Until November 9, also the temporary exhibit “Berlin 1933 – the path into dictatorship” is open: a number of photographies describe the consequences of Hitler’s advent to power, for Germany and the rest of the world, which took place 80 years ago on January 30. All the information on display is available in English. The museum is open Monday thru Sunday, 10AM – 8PM and the entrance is free.

The building of the post-nazi Germany, in Bonn

A small city where a few ministeries still keep their main seat, Bonn was the capital city of the Federal Republic of Germany until the reunification of the country. It lodges the House of the History of the Federal Republic of Germany, a very interesting museum worth a visit! It is located about 30 minutes away from Cologne, and its permanent exhibit offers a vision of the post war Germany through documents, pictures and films (see video: The museum closes on Mondays and the entrance is free.

Some pictures of the exhibit at Topography:
Web “Topography of Terror”:
Web “House of the History of the FRG”:

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Total architecture

Berlin, 17 December 2012

The name sounds familiar to many, although only a few could explain much about the Bauhaus (1919-1933), a worldwide known institution with German roots, which was based in Weimar, Dessau and finally Berlin. Traces of the school, a school of modernity and opening to new concepts in arts, are to be seen in all three cities. Unfortunatelly, the increasing power of the nazists would push the Bauhaus to its end.

Walter Gropius was the founder of the Staatliche Bauhaus, which would start operating in Weimar in 1919. Despite its few years of existence, Bauhaus became a referent of modernity not only in the area of architecture: artists and craftspeople worked side by side for a new concept to encompass architecture, painting, also pottery and other arts. This comprehensive being was the essence of Bauhaus, summarized in its founding manifesto: “The ultimate aim of all creative activity is a building!”.

The Bauhaus, which teachers and students were openly left oriented and “internationalists”, was due to leave the city in 1925, after the extrem right took the regional government. It moved to Dessau, where the ruling socialdemocratic majority supported its activities and philosophy. The later seize of power by the nazis obliged the Bauhaus move again, this time to Berlin, where it would finally be prohibited, after Hitler was designated chancellor in 1933.

Besides Gropius, distinguished people like Mies van der Rohe and Paul Klee were involved in the Bauhaus. Most of them emigrated after January 1933, taking with them the spirit of the Bauhaus; a evidence of this were schools like the New Bauhaus of Chicago (1937) and the Neues Bauhaus of Ulm, GFR (1951).


More information at the website of the Bauhaus Archive Berlin:

Photo (c) Paasch & Kaiser

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