The Best of BerlinNo matter how much a city undergoes change, there is no way it can escape its history. Berlin is a city that has embraced its past, shows no remorse of it and flaunts it extensively.
The events prior to the first World War that lead to the Nazism, followed by defeat of Germany in the War by the allies; and the country's 50 years separation to East and West, are no happy memories. Yet, in every tourist area there is a building, a poster, a sight that hints to these events. It is hard to expect to see reminiscence of Prussian kingdom in Berlin, since this city was nearly flattened in the consecutive world wars.
How to get here:
The train ride Frankfurt - Berlin takes only four hours, and the city main train station, Hauptbahnhof is central and connected to almost anywhere. The DB Bahn web site, has an option of translation to English. It offers discount of advance purchase, and offers deeper discounts on non-refundable tickets. The first class section of the train offers more leg room, individual tables, and 1-hour free Wifi.
Holiday Inn chain has two locations in Berlin, City Center, and East City Center. The rates are very reasonable, 50-100 euro, and some rates include breakfast. The rooms are clean, with coffee, tea station and small fridge. The breakfast is generous and there is lots of different options to choose from. You can get breakfast for 5euro per person anywhere in Berlin and by noon you actually have appetite to eat lunch! :)
The first day in Paris, and one goes to visit Eiffel Tower. The first day in Berlin and one goes to visit the Wall, Berliner Mauer. There is still such curiosity surrounding where the wall was once --even 24 years after 9 November 1989 that all GDR citizens were told they can visit West Germany without paperwork. On Friedrichstadt close to Postdamer Platz there are pictures of "then", you turn your head and right where the wall used to be, you see nothing, open space. Once you look down you see the cobble stones dividing the city right in the middle. I got goose bumps from happiness. If you have to see the wall, a part of it has been preserved; it is available for viewing at no charge. [U6 - Kochstrasse]
Imagine 6-acre land. It is a huge area. Now imagine it, packed with rectangular, shaped gray concrete at different height and width. This is the site of the holocaust memorial, dedicated to an estimated six million Jews who were killed. Keep your eyes peeled to these structures as you walk toward it, and as you approach, change your view and look through them. It's a maze.
The Staatsoper was commissioned by King Frederick II of Prussia in 1741, designed and built by Georg von Knobelsdorff as the first and the oldiest structure on Babelplatz. At that time it was called Hofoper (Court Opera) and was inaugurated with the performance Cesare e Cleopatra in 1742. After the collapse of the German Empire in 1919 the opera was renamed Staatsoper.
Gendarmenmarkt is a beautiful example of an architectural ensemble full of harmony and it includes both the French and the German cathedral as well as the Concert House.
Severely damaged in the war, the square was rebaptised “Platz der Akademie” in 1950 on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the Academy of Science. In 1991, it got its original name back. Numerous restaurants, businesses and hotels are located around the Gendarmenmarkt.