As some of you may know, I spent a few weeks in June on a European adventure. The trip started in Budapest and ended in Berlin, two of the most fascinating cities I’ve ever visited. I’ve already posted my photos and experiences from Budapest—you can check them out here! Berlin is an incredible city, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and photos with you all.
The Fernsehturm, Berlin’s Soviet space needle, is a television tower in what was East Berlin. It is one of the few Soviet buildings still standing. The tallest building in Germany, it houses a rotating restaurant and on a good day offers a 26-mile view.
First, some history. Berlin is the capitol of Germany and sits in the heart of mainland Europe. Its central location on the Spree, Dahme, and Havel rivers has made it the capitol of multiple empires, including the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Republic, and the Third Reich. Despite these advantages, the city has a tumultuous past. It served as the headquarters of the Central Powers and the Axis in WWI and WWII respectively, tumbling into ruin after each defeat. After the Nazi’s fall in 1945, the city was divided between the Soviets and allied powers, separated in two by the infamous Berlin Wall. The city is no stranger to reconstruction.
It is impossible to talk about Berlin without mentioning its role in the Holocaust. Nazi Germany, centered in Berlin, perpetrated the largest genocide in history, systematically murdering more than six million Jews and between fifteen and twenty million Slavs, Jews, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, Poles, Romani, disabled people, Freemasons, Slovenes, and Jehovah’s Witnesses in total. Some estimates put the death toll even higher. The city has changed, however, and Berlin is now heralded as a beacon of tolerance and diversity. The city openly acknowledges and condemns the Nazi era. Streets contain exhibits and memorials, and Nazi propaganda is illegal (this brings up questions of free speech, but that is for another post!). The city is a wonderful destination, and I highly recommend visiting. It feels rather disconcerting, though, when you remember what happened there and how easily people forget.
Let me know what you think of the photos! Please share any thoughts or experiences about Berlin below—I love hearing what you guys think. Click on any photo to expand it and view it in the gallery. Enjoy!
The Berlin Cathedral, without a doubt the most beautiful church I have ever been in. The original building was destroyed during WWII, and the East Germans decided to rebuild it in a less elaborate copy of the original. I braved both claustrophobia and my fear of heights to climb to the walkway on the dome! Inside is a massive crypt, including Frederick I of Prussia and his wife.
The last memorial to the Soviet liberators in the Tiergarten. It is a miracle this has not been defaced or torn down.
Called the Tiergarten, this massive public park sits behind the Brandenburg Gate in what was West Berlin and houses many statues and memorials.
Originally built to house the Royal Post Office and stables, the Postfuhramt in Mitte is now home to photography galleries.
The longest chocolate counter in the world inside Fassbender & Raush, the largest chocolate store in the world. This amazing place has chocolate sculptures of icons such as the Reichstag and Titanic and features a gourmet restaurant where every dish contains chocolate!
Inside the dome of the Berlin Cathedral. It is without a doubt the most beautiful church I have ever been in.
Checkpoint Charlie, the famous checkpoint between West and East Berlin. Many citizens put their lives at risk smuggling people through in cars and baggage. It is now a huge tourist attraction.
A close-up of Checkpoint Charlie. These men dress up in American or Soviet uniform and take pictures with tourists.
The Fernsehturm, or, as I call it, the Soviet space needle, is a television tower in what was East Berlin. It is one of the few Soviet buildings still standing. The tallest building in Germany, it houses a rotating restaurant and on a good day offers a 26-mile view.
Berlin as seen from the dome of the Berlin Cathedral. Getting up here was terrifying, especially for those who don’t like small spaces or heights! The view might have been worth the terror, though. The water is the Spree River.
The German Reichstag. The building was burned in the 1930s then flattened during WWII. The glass dome is a new addition and symbolizes transparency in a building that has housed so many horrible things.
This inconspicuous line of bricks marks the location of the Berlin wall.
The Beethoven-Hayden-Mozart Monument in the Tiergarten. The sculpture has been restored, but architects purposely left the bullet holes from WWII untouched. Try to spot them–they look like little divots.
A hippo we found resting in a courtyard.
Another shot of the secluded square.
We found this hidden square in the middle of the city near the New Synagogue. It felt like we were going back in time! Everything seemed like it was in the French or Italian countryside.
This fountain of Poseidon and other Greek gods is in a public park at the base of the space needle. The park and statue sit in what was East Berlin.
A close-up of the Fernsehturm, the Soviet space needle.
So what do you think about Berlin? Sound off your thoughts in the comments section below! The city was a blast, and I’d love to go back someday. Please like, share, or reblog this post if you enjoy it. That small click really helps me out! Be sure to check me out on Twitter and Facebook as well. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe for new content every Wednesday! IT’S FREE!