Soon many people will be coming to Berlin for the 2006 World Cup. For many it will be their first time in Berlin, so I thought I’d provide a tour of the places that I’ve found interesting in my 6 years here in Berlin. Some you will have heard of while others may be new. Bold links lead to a satellite map provided by Google Maps while most other links lead to a Wikipedia entry.
- Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is a collection of some of Berlin’s best museums; The Pergamon, Altes Museum (Old Museum), Neues Museum (New Museum), Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery). It also incudes Lustgarten (Pleasure Garden), Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic) and Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) and is located in the heart of Berlin.
- Checkpoint Charlie was a border crossing while the city was devided. It is now home to the most interesting exibit about the Berlin Wall.
- Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) is the city’s largest modern art Museum.
- Hamburger Bahnhof is one of the best places for Modern Art lovers.
- The Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) is THE symbol for Berlin. During the Berlin Wall era it lay in no man’s land. You can now move freely (when there is no building) around its pillars.
- The Reichstag is home to the German Parliment. With the addition of the glass dome designed by Sir Norman Foster it has become a tourist magnet. Go early to avoid lines.
- The Fernsehturm (TV tower) is the tallest structure in Berlin and has a rotating cafe. It offers the best view of Berlin from above. For the World Cup the sphere at the top has been decorated as a football.
- Gendarmenmarkt is located in Mitte and is home to the Konzerthaus (concert hall), the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) and the Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral). A statue of Schiller is the center piece of the square.
- Potsdamer Platz (Potsdam Square) lay in no man’s land. Once the wall fell the real-estate was the most sought-after in Berlin. It was the largest construction site in Europe throughout the late 90′s and early 00′s. It is now a maze of modern architecture. In the 20′s, it was the busiest place in all of Europe and even had Europe’s first traffic light.
- Tiergarten (Animal Garden) is Berlin’s largest and most central park. It gets it’s name from the Zoo located in the south west corner. It is bordered by many of Berlin’s most visited tourist destinations.
- Gölitzer Park is located in the multi-cultural borough of Kreuzberg. It’s a great place to relax and people watch.
- Volkspark Friedrichshain is located on the border of Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain. It is home to an open-air movie theater and is great for taking walks along the tree-lined paths.
- Mauerpark (Wall park) is located on the border of Prenzlauer Berg and Wedding and was formerly the no man’s land between the Berln Wall and the residential area. It’s were you want to go to hang with the drum-playing, fire-throwing crowd. On the weekends it’s home to one of Berlin’s best flee markets.
- The Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) is Berlins newest memorial. It’s located only steps from the Brandenburg Gate.
- The Soviet Memorial in Tiergarten is located between the Siegessaüle and the Brandenburg Gate.
- The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) is located across from the Zoologischer Garten (Zoo). Its tower was destroyed by the bombings during WWII and has been left in that state to remind us of the destruction of war.
- Kaufhaus des Westens (Department Store of the West) or KaDeWe for short is the largest department store in Europe. It’s located on Tauenzienstrasse, an extension of Ku’Damm.
- Kufürstenstrasse or Ku’Damm as it’s known is the premier shopping mile in Berlin and one of the most famous in Europe. It’s located near Zoologischer Garten train station. You can find lots of stores from designer labels here.
- Friedrichsstrasse is quickly becoming the Ku’Damm of East Berlin. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall it has slowly been gaining the prestige that it once had.
- Hackescher Markt includes Hackesche Höfe, a series of courtyards and it’s surroundings. It’s thriving with trendy shops and galleries. It’s one of the “coolest” places to be.
- Olympiastadion (Olympia Stadium) will be host to all World Cup matches in Berlin. It usually is home of theHertha BSC Soccer team as well as the Berlin Thunder American football team.
- Prenzlauer Berg lies in former East Berlin and was quickly populated by many young people once the Wall came down. Due to this, it is now home to many young families and even had the highest birth rate in all of Europe at one time.
- Kruezberg is home to the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey. It’s historically one of the most politically radical parts of the city and home of the annual May Day riots. It’s a must-visit for anyone coming to Berlin.
- Mitte (Center) is the city center and where you’ll spend lots of your time while sightseeing.
- Friedrichshain is now home to some of the most vibrant night spots in the city. Most bars and cafes are located in and around Simon-Dach Street. It’s also where you’ll find Karl-Marx-Allee, a wide, soviet-style boulavard that leads to Alexander Platz.
- Charlottenburg was the “center” of West Berlin. The city’s main shopping street and one of its main train stations (Zoologischer Garten Bhf) are located here.
- Schöneberg is located in the former West Berlin and has been known for its gay and lesbian scene.
- I’ve only described the most central boroughs here. Other boroughs are Pankow, Wedding, Tiergarten, Weißensee, Wilmersdorf, Spandau, Steglitz, Zehlendorf, Tempelhof, Neukölln, Treptow, Köpenick, Marzahn, Hellersdorf, Lichtenberg, Hohenschönhausen and Reinickendorf.
- Potsdam is a small town to the south west of Berlin. It’s major tourist draw is the Sanssouci Castle, summer palace of Frederick the Great.
- Wannsee is the largest body of water in Berlin. It also has one of the longest inland beaches in Europe.
- Müggelsee is to the Ossies (East Germans) what Wannsee is to the Wessies (West Germans).
- Spreewald is a short trip south east of Berlin and known for it’s network of irrigation canals. You can cheaply rent a canoe and paddle for hours on end. It’s designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
This is a work in progress. I know it’s missing lots. If you have a suggestion please leave a comment.