Browsing articles tagged with " Berlin"

20 activities to do in Berlin (2/2)

Berlin, June 2015

We presented last week the first part of a series of activities to do in Berlin. A leisure magazine published an article, some time ago, where this list was included. Some of the proposals there are interesting, while some others… not really. We at want to make things easy, for you, and for this reason assess each and every one of the proposals. On with the second part of the listing!

11. Shopping Spree – North Mitte has recently risen as a key shopping district, counting scores of boutiques and independent retailers around Torstraße and Mulackstraße. Those in search of vintage clothing should venture further north to Prenzlauer Berg. Alternatively you can pay for the contents of your basket according to weight in a number of outlets: head westwards to Garage (U-Bahn Nollendorfplatz) or to Colours (U-Bahn Gneisenaustraße), amongst others. Many will for sure be interested in this proposal, but others… 😉

12. Dance until sunrise – When it comes to partying, Berlin is more of a 48-hour than a 24-hour city, with weekends stretching well into weekdays. Head to Berghain/Panorama Bar, on the border between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain: this former factory is the bedrock of European techno. Alternatively, the ramshackle place that is Salon Zur Wilden Renate nods at more of an underground house party vibe. Although many classicals are shutting down, one after the other, Berlin has yet a lot to offer; check here and here! Start early in the evening and make it last until early… in the morning!

13. Art, art, art! – The Kulturforum is a low-rise museum complex south of Tiergarten housing world-class galleries. The biggest draw is the Gemäldegalerie, whose collection of early European painting contains English, Spanish and Italian Renaissance works. A short stroll along from the Old Masters is the bold glass cube of the Neue Nationalgalerie. Designed in the 1960s by Mies van der Rohe, it houses 20th-century paintings. It’s particularly strong on German Expressionism. A great time to visit is during the Long Night of the Museums (next edition, Sat. 28th Jan.!) The great Berlin museums are an absolute must!

14. Hear the Berlin Philharmonic – The Berlin Philharmoniker is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost symphony orchestras. Classical music enthusiasts are advised to check that their visit to Berlin coincides with the Orchestra playing at home. The concert hall itself, designed by Hans Scharoun, is an iconic yellow building: on the inside, a sleek 1960s aesthetic meets with superb acoustics. Are you into classical? if yes, an absolutely not to miss!

15. Relax by the Spree – Berlin enjoys glorious sunshine come summer, and after the notoriously snowy winters, Berliners certainly make the most of it. Although hundreds of miles from any coastline, you’ll find sun-seeking improvisation on every corner. Bars such as Yaam and Chez Jacki line the banks of the Spree to the north while Club der Visionäre sits on stilts on an inlet to the river on the border of the districts of Kreuzberg and Treptow. If you are in Berlin in spring or summer, do not forget to visit one of its “beaches”!

16. Sprint around the Olympic Stadium – The Olympiastadion exemplifies fascist taste in architecture. Its greatest claim to fame however came during the 1936 Olympics, which had been intended by the National Socialist government to be a showcase for Aryan triumph. Instead the stadium was the spot where black American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals, emphatically disproving Hitler’s ideas about racial superiority in front of the world’s media. The original design survived World War II bombs and demolition threats, before undergoing a major refit for the 2006 World Cup. No must, actually, but worth a visit if you have some extra time (U2, Olympia Stadion)

17. Can you eat it fast enough? Currywurst is the idiosyncratic combination of pork sausage, cut into slices, smothered with a mixture of ketchup and curry powder and then served with a bread roll or fries. This might sound like a confusing mouthful, but in Berlin it’s a culinary institutio. Konnopke’s Imbiss on Schönhauser Allee has been serving Currywurst since 1930… Curry36 is, quite probably, the most famous place in town to order a Currywurst!

18. Go wild at the zoo – For a family outing or a date to the sound of exotic bird cries, visit the Zoologischer Garten and the Aquarium in the Tiergarten. This is the oldest zoo in Germany, having opened in 1841. Situated in beautifully landscaped gardens with plenty of spots for a picnicking, the zoo is an important scientific resource as well as being rich in entertainment value, containing almost 14,000 creatures, among them rare and endangered species. If interested in the world of animals, this specific zoo will undoubtfully catch your eye.

19. Enjoy a film at dusk – There are Freiluftkinos (open air cinemas) in Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg, among others, although for obvious reasons you will have to wait until May to go to one of them 😉 A great experience for the Berliner evenings…

20. Stroll around the Charlottenburg gardens – At the west end of the city, the charming palace and garden complex of Schloss Charlottenburg (picture below) has the look of a mini-Versailles. Built as a summer retreat for Queen Sophie-Charlotte by her husband Friedrich I, the first king of Prussian, it was named after Charlotte following her early death in 1705. Following damage in the World War II, the residence has been restored to glory as the last surviving palace belonging to the powerful Hohenzollern family and the only royal residency in the city. Very beautiful, worth a visit especially in December, when the Christmas market brings lights to the gardens.

These are 20 recommendations for Berlin. Needless to say, the city offers much more than this, so you will probably want to travel to Berlin more than once!

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20 activities to do in Berlin (1/2)

Berlin, May 2015

A well-known international magazine published, some time ago, an article devoted to “20 great things to do in Berlin”. All sort of possibilities, with some of which we at agree more than with others. In any case, they are all interesting or, at least, fun 😉 Here you have the first 10 options, next week we will publish the following 10. Next to each of them, you can read the assessment of

1. Visit Grunewald – 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. If weather permits, take a dip in the clean waters of Schlachtensee or Wannsee. The S-Bahn will take you there. For nature lovers, who have not enough with the lush Tiergarten.

2. Get stranded on Museum Island – 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. More than a recommendation, a must!

3. Mooch, sing and shop in Mauer Park – Berliners embrace their green spaces and the long strip of grass along the middle of Prenzlauer Berg’s Mauerpark (open daily from 8am–sunset) is best known not as a relaxing spot but a mecca for energetic market-lovers. The park hosts a massive flea market on Sundays, with vendors selling bargain bicycles, clothes, food, souvenirs, records, pianos and furniture. At 3pm, the hillside becomes the setting for karaoke on a giant scale. For youngsters and/or people with a certain “alternative” spirit.

4. Take in an aerial view – A visit to the Reichstag, the home of the German Parliament, provides the perfect overview of the city. The roof is an entirely glass structure, allowing for a panoramic view of Berlin right from the centre of government. Entrance to the roof is free but you must register in advance. Alternative views can be found by taking Europe’s fastest elevator to the Panoramapunkt, in Potsdamer Platz. Over in the east of the city is Fernsehturm, rising over 200 metres above Alexanderplatz. The Reichstag is another must, not just for the views but also to understand the concept of ‘democracy’ in nowadays Germany.

5. Hark back to the DDR – Soviet occupation of East Berlin ended in 1990, and today the DDR Museum offers a snapshot of life in the old days. The interactive museum allows visitors a truly hands on experience for both children and adults alike: root through drawers of East German memorabilia, mimic a Stasi officer and listen in on a bugged flat (we talked about it in this article, last moth). It is interesting, and highly recommendable if travelling with children.

6. Explore Berlin’s Jewish history – The Jüdisches Museum presents the story of Berlin’s Jewish population through the Museum’s own architecture. Across Oranienburger Straße is the Neue Synagogue, and for more of an emotional way into history, walk night or day through the Denkmal für die Ermordeten Juden Europas. This memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe takes the form of 2,711 blocks of varying heights arranged across the area of a housing block. The museum and the Synagoge are recommended for those who are very interested in this part of the history of Berlin. The Memorial, though, is a not to miss!

7. Find the Berlin Wall – 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. To be seen!

8. Smile for the camera! – Posing for four shots in Berlin’s Photoautomaten is an almost obligatory activity. These black and white photo booths are open all hours and scattered across the city. Honestly, not necessary 😉

9. Visit Bauhaus Museum – You’ll find out that everyone can be a designer at the Bauhaus Archiv, which offers a total insight into the development of the utilitarian art school that came out of Weimar Germany. The school’s founder, architect Walter Gropius, drew up plans for the elegant white building that now houses the museum. Its permanent exhibition displays furniture, ceramics, prints, sculptures, photographs and sketches, all created in the workshop. Interested in design? Put it in your list!

10. On yer bike – Central Berlin is well supplied with bike-rental outlets, and the city has a welcoming cycle culture, complete with cycle lanes and cyclist signs at the traffic lights. Start at the Reichstag and its adjacent complex of nineties Parliamentary buildings, then head across to the leafy paths of Tiergarten, up to Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie and end with the Topography of Terror – an outdoor museum on the site of the wartime SS and Gestapo offices. A very pleasant experience. Although Berliners are used to living together with cyclists, be careful!

You now know the first 10 options by Time Out, with our own assessments; 10 more options to come soon!

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An art bunker

Berlin, March 2015

Anything is possible in Berlin, no matter what. For example, that a bunker becomes the most “protected” art gallery in the world…

A 5-storey building with a surface area of 1.000 m², the nazis had the Reichsbahnbunker Friedrichstraße built during the war. It was bound to give shelter to the neighbouring civilians, threatened by the bombings. After the war, the soviets used it as a prison until the government of the GDR gave it a new use, in 1949: first as a warehouse for textile, later to store food (for this reason it was named “Bananenbunker” by the neighbours).

After the Wall fell in 1989, the bunker became a space for culture and leisure: theather performances, exhibits, … In the early ’90, its convertion into the “Ex-Kreuz-Club” made the place famous in all of Europe, until it was shut down in 1996. Finally, the Polish businessman and art collector Christian Boros bought the building, where the “Boros Collection” was opened in 2008. It displays some 500 pieces of art, an exhibition that can be visited on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (with previous registration, here).

The essential “touch of glam” is brought by the impressive penthouse where Boros and his family live.

Interviews with Christian Boros:

in English, at
in German, at and

Reviews about the Boros Collection:

in English, at

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The Pope’s revenge

Berlin, March 2015

When the sun shines on the Fernsehturm’s tiled stainless steel dome, the reflection usually appears in the form of a cross. This effect was neither predicted nor desired by the planners. Berliners immediately named the luminous cross Rache des Papstes, or “Pope’s Revenge”. For the same reasons, the structure was also called “St. Walter” (from Walter Ulbricht).

U.S. President Ronald Reagan mentioned this phenomenon in his “Tear down this wall” speech on 12 June 1987:

“Years ago, before the East Germans began rebuilding their churches, they erected a secular structure: the television tower at Alexanderplatz. Virtually ever since, the authorities have been working to correct what they view as the tower’s one major flaw: treating the glass sphere at the top with paints and chemicals of every kind. Yet even today when the sun strikes that sphere, that sphere that towers over all Berlin, the light makes the sign of the cross. There in Berlin, like the city itself, symbols of love, symbols of worship, cannot be suppressed.”
Source: Wikipedia

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The Berlin Wall is back!

Berlin, February 2015

The Berlin Wall is no longer part of the present of the city since November 9th, 1989, when it collapsed, quinte unexpectedly actually. Only the “East Side Gallery”, its longest section (1.3 km or 0.80 miles), as well as some much smaller ones, remind of the physical partition of Berlin, which lasted over 28 years. Whatever that 155 km-long Wall transmitted is not longer to be perceived… or maybe it is, actually it is.

“Asisi Panorama” is very close to Checkpoint Charlie, one of the hot spots during the Cold War. The spectacular staging shows a view of Berlin as seen from its western part while the Wall stood there. An impressive 60 meter long and 15 m. high image, an elevated platform (4 m.), the proper illumination, … the spectator is granted a unique opportunity to experience an everyday autumn scene of the 80’s – the western neighbourhood of Kreuzberg on one side, the death strip and East Berlin on the other. Graffiti artists, playing children, policemen on the watch towers, … all which could be seen those days from the in the western part of the city existing elevated platforms can also be seen now, 25 years later. The venue also shows a number of photos taken before, during and after the Wall both by Berlin citizens and visitors.

“Asisi Panorama – The Wall” is located on the junction of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße, underground “Kochstraße” (U6). Its creator is the architect and artits Yadegar Asisi, the “father” of other spectacular Panometers in Dresden and Leipzig. In close vicinity stands the Checkpoint Charlie-Museum as well as the so called “Black Box”, an exhibition area devoted to this historical border point.


Asisi Panorama:
Checkpoint Charlie-Museum:
Black Box:

Photos Checkpoint Charlie + Black Box:

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