Berlin’s history of battling ideologies makes for some of the most fascinating sightseeing in Europe. Going to Berlin is like walking a history lane. Many of Berlin’s sites have something to do from the World War II from exploring the remnants of the Berlin Wall, the glorious dome atop the Reichstag (Parliament Building) or the peaceful greenery in Tiergarten.
How to get to the city from the airport
When we came to Berlin, we still flew to Berlin Tegel Airport and took the Express Bus which stops in front of our Hotel. As per 31 Oct 2021, the new Brandenburg Airport starts operating. Here’s how to get to the city Center from the new airport:
By Airport Express Train: FEX, RE7 and RB14 are the fastest way to reach Berlin city centre from the Flughafen BER station, which is directly below Terminal 1 in level U2. The trains run every 30 minutes between around 4am to 11pm and cost €3.30 each way. The metro tickets in Berlin are valid for a 2 hour period. On weekends there’s a night train at 1:44am.
Express Bus: The Airport Shuttle BER1 travels between Steglitz Rathaus and Berlin Airport Terminal 1-2 every hour. It takes about 45 minutes to get to Steglitz Rathaus from the airport and it is a bit pricey at €11.30. Once at Steglitz Rathaus, you will be able to switch to the S-Bahn or walk a few steps to get to the U-Bahn and travel the rest of the way into central Berlin.
Bus X71: X71 is a new service that travels between the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (from both Terminal 1-2 and Terminal 5) to Rudow, Johannisthaler Chaussee, and Alt Mariendorf. It runs between 3:59 am and 10:11 pm seven days a week, departing every 20 minutes. From any of those stops, you can then transfer to the U-Bahn to reach the city center.
Top Things to do in Berlin
Berlin Memorial Wall
The Berlin Wall Memorial runs along both sides of Bernauer Strasse. The outdoor exhibition, which uses the Bernauer Strasse to illustrate the history of the Berlin Wall, is presented on the former border strip, which was situated on the East Berlin side of the border. This area also includes the official monument dedicated to the memory of the divided city and the victims of communist tyranny. This is also where the Window of Remembrance stands. The Chapel of Reconciliation and the excavated foundations of a former apartment building, whose façade formed part of the border wall until the early 1980s, are also in this section.
The Visitor Center and the Documentation Center, which includes the observation tower and a permanent exhibition on the history of Berlin’s division, are located on the opposite side of the street, which had once belonged to West Berlin.
We took the tram in front of our hotel and stopped at Bernauer Strausse. Berlin Wall memorial covers a vast area and we had to walk thru the walls in a cold weather. When we finally reached the end of the wall we saw the documentation center. We hurriedly went inside to warm ourselves. I wished Fabio could come with us as he would be interested in reading the history of World War 1 and 2.
Check Point Charlie
Our next destination was Check Point Charlie. Check point Charlie was one of the place where people crossed from the west to the east which was famous for Diplomatic personnel, American military dan non German visitor. Checkpoint Charlie became popular as it was also the setting for many thrillers and spy novels, from James Bond in Octopussy to The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. Located on the corner of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße, it is a reminder of the former border crossing, the Cold War and the partition of Berlin.
Topography of terror
Since 1987 a permanent exhibition at the site where the headquarters of the Secret State Police, the SS and the Reich Security Main Office were located during the “Third Reich” has been providing information to the public about the most important institutions of National Socialist persecution and terror. The documentary exhibition conveys the European dimensions of the Nazi reign of terror.
From Check Point Charlie we continue walking to Topography of terror to read further on the history of Berlin wall and Germany. We didn’t stay long because it was outdoor and the weather was getting colder. When finished we continued our walk to Gendarmenmarkt.
Gendarmenmarkt is pretty and romantic especially as the sun sets. The Gendarmenmarkt square is best known for the building trio that frames it: the German the and French Cathedrals and the Konzerthaus (concert hall). Together, they form one of the most stunning architectural ensembles in Berlin. The eventful history of the Gendarmenmarkt can be traced back all the way to the 17th century. Each historical phase has left its architectural traces.
The Gendarmenmarkt was built at the end of the 17th century based on the plans of Johann Arnold Nering. At that time, French immigrants – mainly Huguenots – had settled in this neighborhood. The marketplace was originally called Esplanade, then Lindenmarkt, Friedrichstädtischer Markt, and Neuer Markt. Finally, in 1799, it was renamed Gendarmenmarkt. The name refers to the “Gens d’arms”, a Prussian regiment consisting of French Huguenot soldiers whose guardhouse and stables were located here from 1736 to 1782.
Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s most famous landmark and a symbol of Berlin and German division during the Cold War. It is now a national symbol of peace and unity. Fireworks at Brandenburg Gate at the world’s largest New Year’s Eve Party along Straße des 17.
From Brandenburg gate we strolled to Tiergarten which felt so romantic in the fall and also because we could hear a street musician playing. The weather was still cold ranging from 0 to 10 degree but it was not windy. So more pleasant than yesterday.
For Berliners, Tiergarten Park is the city’s green lung – just like New York’s Central Park or London’s Hyde Park. Close to the city centre and bordering such major sights as the Brandenburg Gate or Potsdamer Platz, the forested grounds cover a spreading 210 hectares, nearly 519 acres – slightly more than Hyde Park.
Tiergarten Park is very much at the heart of Berlin life – attracting joggers, skaters, cyclists and walkers, as well as those who just want to relax in the sun. The park’s spreading green lawns are popular for family picnics, ball games or simply unwinding and taking it easy.
From Tiergarten we walked past Reischtag and to the Holocaust memorial.
The Holocaust Memorial
The Memorial To The Murdered Jews Of Europe is a Holocaust monument located in the center of Berlin, very close to the Brandenburg Gate. The impressive iron monument was build by the architect Peter Eisenman and was presented on May 2005. The Memorial To The Murdered Jews Of Europe includes an information center located underground as well as an exhibition on the eastern side of the memorial.
Part of the exhibition is a data center that holds the names of all the Jews that were killed during the Holocaust. The underground museum aims to explain the process of persecution of the Jewish population in Germany before and during the war. As part of that, it showcases the sites where some of the most terrible human crimes took place. The memorial itself is made of steel, which is empty of any inscriptions.
We had lunch in Indian food restaurant in Alexanderplatz. We wanted to visit Primark but unfortunately they were closed on Sunday so we continued walking to Berliner Dome.
The Berlin Cathedral, also known as, the Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church, is a monumental German Evangelical church and dynastic tomb on the Museum Island in central Berlin. Having its origins as a castle chapel for the Berlin Palace, several structures have served to house the church since the 1400s.
The area near Berliner Dome had some nice cafes for sitting down and have some coffee and eat crepes. But we were afraid it would get colder and it might rain so we decided to continue to our last destination: the East Side Gallery.
The East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery can be found on the most significant remaining part of the Berlin Wall. It is over a kilometer long and can be found spread out along the Spree Riverâ banks. In fact, it is the world longest open air gallery. Shortly after the Berlin Wall came down 118 artists traveled from 21 countries to participate in creating the East SideGallery by each adding their own unique painting. Through their paintings, the artists were able to express their opinions about political events that happened between the beginning of 1989 and the end of 1990. More than 100 works of art can be found at the East Side Gallery.
This most photographed picture is located exactly in the middle of the East Side Gallery and we had to queue to take turns.
It was dark already when we left East Side Gallery. The downside of traveling in autumn was it got dark at 5pm but other than that the weather was nicer (cool but not too cold) and the scenery was beautiful with leaves turning yellow to red. We had dinner at restaurant inside the train station and stocked up food for our train journey to Prague tomorrow.