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Berlin

July 22, 2017

Neue Synagogue & Centrum Judaicum Rebuilt Wonder religious/spiritual ; religious/spiritual Oranienburger Str 28-30 10117 Tel: 030 8802 8300 (info)
Tel: 030 8802 8316 (other) The gleaming gold dome of the rebuilt New Synagogue is the most visible symbol of Berlin’s revitalised Jewish community. Designed in Moorish-Byzantine style by Eduard Knoblauch, the 1866 original seated 3200 people and was Germany’s largest synagogue. Thanks to its beauty and rich decor, it became an instant landmark. Upstairs showcases special exhibits. After Nazis desecrated this synagogue, Allied bombs nearly destroyed the building in 1943. With the consent of East Berlin’s small Jewish community, the GDR government demolished most of the ruins in 1958, although they kept the main facade as a memorial. Finally, the New Synagogue was rebuilt and inaugurated in May 1995. Today it’s not mainly a house of worship (although prayer services are held) but a museum and information centre. Permanent displays document the building’s history and architecture as well as the lives of the people who worshipped here. Exhibits include a model of the synagogue, a Torah scroll and an eternal lamp from the original structure, unearthed during excavations in 1989. Hours: Apr-Sep: Sun & Mon 10:00am-8:00pm, Tue-Thu 10:00am-6:00pm, Fri 10:00am-5:00pm; Oct-Mar: Sun-Thu 10:00am-6:00pm, Fri 10:00am-2:00pm; The presence of the grand Neue Synagoge (Mon– Thurs & Sun 10am–6pm, Fri 10am–2pm; €3; www.cjudaicum.de) halfway down Oranienburger Strasse is a reminder that this area was, before the war, Berlin’s main Jewish quarter. Designed by two prominent non-Jewish architects, Eduard Knoblauch and August Stüler, in an exotic idiom combining Moorish and Byzantine elements, the synagogue was inaugurated in the presence of Bismarck in 1866. Partially burned on Kristallnacht and further damaged by bombing during World War II, it stood derelict for many years, a silent reminder of the savagery of Nazi rule. On November 9, 1988, the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, work began on restoration of the facade and the reconstruction of the gilded dome, and this was completed seven years later, though it was decided not to re-create the main body of the temple, whose groundplan is marked out in the rear garden. The front rooms now serve as the Centrum Judaicum, a Jewish cultural centre. At the eastern end of Oranienburger Strasse, turn left into Grosse Hamburger Strasse, where on the immediate right is the Alter Jüdischer Friedhof, Berlin’s oldest Jewish cemetery, established in 1672. Most of the headstones were smashed by the Nazis and the space was subsequently grassed over, though a monument to Moses Mendelssohn, the Enligthenment-era philosopher and grandfather of composer Felix, was re-erected after the war. Alongside is the site of the first Jewish old people’s home to be founded in the city. The Nazis used this as a detention centre, and 55,000 Jews were held here before being shipped off to the camps. A memorial tablet (on which people, following Jewish practice for gravesite visits, have placed pebbles) and a sculpted group of haggard-looking figures representing deportees mark the spot where the home stood.

Holocaust Memorial Carefully Constructed Memories budget ; war-related

Cora-Berliner-Str 1 10117 Tel: 030 2639 4336 (info) Tel: 030 2639 4321 (info)  It took 17 years of discussion, planning and construction, but on 8 May 2005 the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe), colloquially known as the Holocaust Memorial, was finally dedicated. It occupies a space the size of a football field on high-profile real estate just south of the Brandenburg Gate. Hours: Oct-Mar: Tue-Sun 10:00am-7:00pm; Apr-Sep: Tue-Sun 10:00am-8:00pm

 Pariser Platz Playground for the Über Rich square  Pariser Platz 10117 In the 19th century it was considered the city’s grand Wohnzimmer (living room), where luminaries from the arts and politics went to work and play. During the Cold War, Pariser Platz and Brandenburg Gate were destroyed; these days it is an elegant square, where embassies, banks and a luxury hotel have snapped up Berlin’s priciest real estate.

 Bundeskanzleramt Room with a View government ; architectural highlight

Willy-Brandt-Str 1 10557 Tel: 030 9026 2521 (info)  The vast Bundeskanzleramt (Federal Chancellery), an edgy design by Axel Schultes and Charlotte Frank, is the most prominent building in the Band des Bundes (ribbon of government buildings). The complex centres on a nine-storey-high white cube with circular openings that quickly inspired Berliners to nickname the place ‘washing machine’. Views from the upper floors, which contain the chancellor’s offices and private residence, are reportedly stupendous. Also here are the cabinet meeting room and a supersecure, special-access-only floor. Two lower, elongated office blocks flank the cube, giving the compound an ‘H’ shape if seen from above. To the west, the cube gives way to the Kanzlergarten (Chancellor’s Garden) and, across the Spree River, to the Kanzlerpark. The entire Chancellery complex is closed to the public but you’re free to take a gander at the forecourt with the rusted-steel sculpture called ‘Berlin’ by the late Basque artist Eduardo Chillida. For fine views of the exterior, head north to the Moltkebrücke (bridge) or take a stroll along the new river promenade.

 Paul-Löbe-Haus & Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus Symbol of Reunification government Konrad-Adenauer-Str 1 10557 Tel: 030 2270 (info) Tel: 030 2273 2152 (info) This pair of sparkling buildings facing each other on the Spree houses conference rooms and offices for members of parliament and staff. A double bridge connects the two across the river in a visual symbol of reunification. Designed by Stefan Braunfels, both structures echo design themes of the Bundeskanzleramt (Federal Chancellery). Like a bowling alley built for giants, the Paul-Löbe-Haus’ atrium extends across the entire 200m (656ft) length of the building. The equally striking Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus contains the parliamentary library and other government-related institutions. Its most eye-catching elements include a massive tapered stairway, a flat roofline jutting out like a springboard over a plaza, and a cube with giant circular windows containing the library reading room. Underground tunnels connect both structures to the Bundestag (parliament) inside the Reichstag (parliament building). Paul Löbe and Marie-Elisabeth Lüders, by the way, were both strong voices of democracy before and after WWII. The Nazis, predictably, imprisoned them.

Regierungsviertal & around REICHSTAG; http://www.bundestag.de; Platz der Republik 1; admission free; — lift to cupola 8am- midnight, last entrylopm; 100 Just north of the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag has been the seat of the Bundestag, the German parliament, since 1999 following a complete renovation by Lord Norman Foster. The British star architect turned the 1894 building by Paul Wallet into a state-of the-art parliamentary facility, preserving only the historical shell and adding its most striking contemporary feature: the glistening glass dome. The quick lift ride to the top is one of the highlights of any Berlin visit, as much for the 360-degree panorama of the city as for the close-ups of the dome and the mirror- clad funnel at its centre. The lift drops you at an outdoor viewing platform where there’s also a pricey restaurant ( 2262 9933; — 9am-midnight). From here you can climb the spiralling ramp inside the dome itself, which, by the way, sits right above the Plenary Hall. At the top, displays document the history of the building. There’s always a queue for the lift, so prepare for a wait. Only the disabled, people with baby strollers and those with restau ran reservations can proceed directly via a separate entrance on the left. Note that the dome is closed for cleaning for several days four times a year, although you can still access the viewing platform. Other areas of the Reichstag, including the Plenary Hall, may only be seen on guided tours or during lectures, which are usually in German and must be booked far in advance in writing. Check the website (click to English/Information Center/Visit Us) for details. The Reichstag has been the setting of numerous milestones in German history. After WWI, Philipp Scheidemann proclaimed the German republic from one of its windows. The Reichstag fire on 27 February 1933 allowed Hitler to blame the communists and seize power. A dozen years later, the victorious Soviets nearly obliterated the building. Restoration — without the dome — wasn’t finished until 1972. At midnight on 2 October 1990 the reunification of Germany was enacted here. In the summer of 1995, the Reichstag again made worldwide headlines when Christo (a Bulgarian artist famous for wrapping public places) and his wife, Jeanne- Claude, wrapped the edifice in fabric for two weeks. Lord Norman set to work shortly thereafter.

Sony Center shopping centre/mall ; architectural highlight Potsdamer Platz 10785 Tel: 030 3978 9378 (other) The Sony Center is one of the most spectacular new developments in Berlin. At its core is a central plaza dramatically canopied by a glass roof with steel beams like the spokes of a bicycle wheel. After dark it sparkles in a light show. With plenty of sitting areas, free wi-fi and a fun fountain, it’s great for people-watching. Also part of the complex is the opulent Kaisersaal (Emperor’s Hall), the only surviving room of the prewar Hotel Esplanade, erstwhile belle of Bellevuestrasse.

Sowjetisches Ehrenmal Lest We Forget war-related Str des 17 Juni 10557 Just west of the Brandenburg Gate, the Sowjetisches Ehrenmal (Soviet War Memorial) commemorates the Red Army soldiers who died fighting in the epic Battle of Berlin. Two Russian tanks said to have been the first to enter the city in 1945 flank the monument. The reddish marble was allegedly scavenged from the ruins of Hitler’s chancellery on Wilhelmstrasse.

 Strasse des 17 Juni The Workers’ Street Str des 17 Juni 10557 This broad boulevard originally connected the Berlin City Palace on Unter den Linden with Schloss Charlottenburg and was called Charlottenburger Chaussee. In 1937 Hitler doubled its width and turned it into a triumphal road. Its present name commemorates the 1953 workers’ uprising in eastern Berlin, which brought the GDR to the brink of collapse.

 Jüdisches Museum Jewish Achievement museum ; war-related Lindenstrasse 9-14 Tel: 030 25 99 33 00 (info) Berlin’s Jüdisches Museum, the largest Jewish Museum in Europe, celebrates the achievements of German Jews and their contribution to culture, art, science and other fields. An architectural work of art, the building and its contents are a major destination in Berlin. Arranged in a chronological fashion, the exhibit also includes one section about the Holocaust, although this is by no means the museum’s entire focus. In fact, what makes Berlin’s Jewish museum different is that it looks at Jewish history beyond the very narrow context of the 12 years of Nazi rule. Jews are not exclusively presented as victims but as vital citizens who have played enormously important roles in Germany through the centuries. One part of the exhibit also deals with the resurgence of Berlin’s Jewish population since reunification. The museum building itself is a stunning work of art designed by Daniel Libeskind and an excellent example of crisp modernism. Zinc-clad walls rise skyward in a sharply angled zig-zag ground plan that’s an abstract interpretation of a star. The general outline is echoed in the windows: triangular, trapezoidal and irregular gashes in the building’s gleaming skin.The interior is designed as a metaphor for the history of the Jewish people; ‘void’ spaces represent the loss of humanity, culture and people, and a field of concrete columns symbolises Jewish emigration and exile.Hours: Tue-Sun 10:00am-8:00pm, Mon 10:00am-10:00pm

MATTHAUSKIRCHE Map p346 261 3676; Matthäikirchplatz; tower admission €1; -‘ noon-6pm Wed-Sun; 0 Potsdamer Platz, 200, M29 Standing a bit lost and forlorn within the Kulturforum, the Matthäuskirche is a 108 neo- Romanesque confection designed by Friedrich August Stuler in 1846. Its attractive façade features alternating bands of red brick and ochre tiles. During the Third Reich, it was supposed to be dismantled and transplanted to Spandau to make room for Albert Spear’s Germania (see the boxed text, p59). Fortunately the war — and history—took a different turn. Climb the tower for good views of the Kulturforum and Potsdamer Platz.

Sun Ramones Museum Ramoanin’ In Style free ; museum Solmsstr 30 10961 The legacy of The Ramones, a seminal US punk band in the 70s and 80s, is kept very much alive in Berlin, thanks to superfan Florian Hayler. His collection of memorabilia forms the basis of this little shrine. Crammed into two rooms are vintage T-shirts, signed album covers, sneakers, drumsticks, Johnny Ramone’s jeans and other original flotsam and jetsam. Hours: Sat-Sun 12:00pm-6:00pm

Bauhaus Archiv/Museum fur Gestaltung Design Atavars museum ; architectural highlight Klingelhöferstrasse 14 Tel: 030 254 0020 (info)  The Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design is devoted to the members of the Bauhaus School, who laid the basis for much of contemporary design and architecture. Founded in Weimar by Berlin architect Walter Gropius, it aimed to unite art with everyday functionality, from doorknobs and radiators to the layout of entire districts and apartment blocks. Walter Gropius himself, the founder of the Bauhaus school (1919-33), designed the avant-garde building housing the Bauhaus Archive/Museum of Design, whose gleaming white shed roofs look a bit like the smokestacks of an ocean liner. Exhibits behind this striking silhouette document the enormous influence the Bauhaus exerted on all aspects of modern architecture and design. The collection includes everything from study notes to workshop pieces to photographs, models, blueprints and documents by such Bauhaus members as Klee, Kandinsky, Schlemmer and Feininger. Prized collection highlights include the original model of Gropius’ 1925 Bauhaus building in Dessau and a reconstruction of Lázló Moholy-Nagy’s kinetic sculpture Light-Space-Modulator, a clever kinetic sculpture that combines colour, light and movement. Hours: Wed-Mon 10:00am-5:00pm

Schwules Museum Mehringdamm 61 2nd courtyard 16-18 M-F Sun regular gay history exhibitions access by arrangement 693 11 72 now T +49-30-69 59 90 50 – has own website but all in German

Spandau NIKOLAIKIRCHE Map p343 333 5639; Reformationsplatz; admission free, tower Cl; noon-4pm Mon-The, llam-3pm Sat, 2-4pm Sun, tower tours noon & 1pm Sat, 2pm & 3pm Sun Apr-Ott; 0 Altstadt Spandau The graceful Nikolaikirche (Church of St Nicholas) in the heart of the Altstadt played a pivotal role during the Reformation. In 1539 it hosted the first public Protestant worship service in Brandenburg whose ruler, Elector Joachim II, was a supporter of the reformer Martin Luther. That’s the elector immortalised in bronze outside the church.
The Nikolaikirche was first mentioned in a record of 1240 but the structure you see today dates from the 15th century. The walls of the west tower, which doubled as fortress and watchtower, are up to 3m thick. Guided tower tours are sometimes offered at weekends. You can also climb to the top for impressive views.
The church itself is a three-nave Gothic hall design filled with important treasures, including the bronze baptismal font (1 3g8) and the baroque pulpit (1714). Pride of place, though, goes to the late-Renaissance altar (1582) whose centre panel depicts the Last Supper. For great views, you can climb up the tower on weekends in the warmer months.

Sophienstrabe was Jewish quarter, redlight district. Sophienkirche C18 finest baroque, no war damage, chalice shaped pulpit? SCHEUNENVIERTAL SOPHIENKIRCHE Map pp340-i 308 7920; http://www.sophien.de; Grosse Hamburger Strasse 29; 0 Weinmeisterstrasse The baroque Sophienkirche is a simple single-nave, galleried confection with a delicate stucco ceiling and an ornate tower. Concerts played on its fancy organ take place sporadically. The first parish church in the Spandauer Vorstadt, it was completed in 1713 with funds provided by Sophie Luise, the third wife of King Friedrich I. The queen, however, was sadly missing from its inaugural service, having been banished from Berlin by her stepson and newly crowned Friedrich Wilhelm I. The enchanting churchyard has some fine- looking tombstones shaded by ancient trees.

Kreuzberg

 Abgeordnetenhaus Political Power Centre government  Niederkirchner Str 5 10963
Tel: 030 2325 2325 (info) Tel: 030 2325 1068 (info) This stately neo-Renaissance structure across from the Martin-Gropius-Bau has been a political power centre since its late-19th-century days as the house of the Prussian Parliament. Under the Nazis, it had a stint as a courthouse before turning into an air force officers club. After reunification, it became Berlin’s House of Representatives. Look out for free, changing exhibits.Hours: 9:00am-6:00pm

Anhalter Bahnhof Gateway To The South building ; ruin Askanischer Platz 10963 Only a forlorn fragment of the entrance portal is left of the Anhalter Bahnhof (Anhalt Station), demolished in 1960, and once Berlin’s finest and busiest railway station. Marlene Dietrich departed from here for Hollywood, and the king of Italy and the tsar of Russia saw Berlin first at this station. Although bombed in WWII, it remained operational for years until its eclipse by Ostbahnhof (East Station).

Kreuzberg Museum A Multicultural Melting Pot free ; museum Adalbertstr 95a 10963 Tel: 030 5058 5233 (info) Tel: 030 5058 5258 (info) Still a work in progress, this museum chronicles the ups and downs of one of Berlin’s most colourful districts. A permanent exhibit documents Kreuzberg’s 19th-century heyday as a centre of manufacturing and trading. It highlights aspects of its legacy as a hotbed of left-wing protest and discusses the role immigrants have played in shaping the area. Hours: Wed-Sun 12:00pm-6:00pm

Mitte

Alte Nationalgalerie A Grecian Home for the Greats art-related ; art gallery

Bodestr 1-3 10117 Tel: 030 2090 5577 (info) Tel: 030 266 3670 (info) The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), a sensitively restored Greek-temple building by Friedrich August Stüler, is an elegant setting for this exquisite collection of 19th-century European art. One focus is on French Impressionists, including Monet and Renoir, and sculpture by Johann Gottfried Schadow and Christian Daniel Rauch.The wall-sized paintings by Franz Krüger and Adolf Menzel glorifying Prussia’s military are hard to ignore, but they don’t overshadow the insightful portraits by Philipp Otto Runge and the mystical landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich and, yes, Karl Friedrich Schinkel (there’s just no escaping the man). The gorgeously restored rotunda showcases the emotionally charged sculptures of Reinhold Begas, while the marble stairwell is decorated with Otto Geyers’ patriotic frieze of German greats.Hours: Tue-Wed & Fri-Sun 10:00am-6:00pm, Thu 10:00am-10:00pm

Bodemuseum Art In And Art Out Monbijoubrücke 10178 Tel: 030 266 3666 (info) The Bodemuseum reopened in 2006 after a six-year facelift. Designed by Ernst-Eberhard Ihne, who designed the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the 1904 building is an imposing neobaroque work. It presents a stunning sculpture collection, including works by Tilman Riemenschneider, and the Pazzi Madonna, an early Renaissance sculpture by Italian artist Donatello.Under the same roof is a broad sampling from the Museum of Byzantine Art. Ivory carvings from Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) and religious icons from Russia are among the highlights here. Numismatic fans should look for the Coin Cabinet on the ground floor. Hours: Fri-Wed 10:00am-6:00pm, Thu 10:00am-10:00pm

Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin Guggen Time art gallery Unter den Linden 13-15
Tel: 030 202 0930 (info) If you’ve been to any of the other Guggenheim museums, especially those in New York and Bilbao, this small, minimalist gallery space – a joint venture between Deutsche Bank and the Guggenheim Foundation – might be a tad disappointing but still, curators mount several exhibits a year featuring international contemporary artists. Hours: Fri-Wed 11:00am-8:00pm, Thu 11:00am-10:00pm

Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof Celebrity Corpses cemetery  Chausseestr 126 10115 This cemetery wins, hands down, the award for the most celebrity corpses in Berlin. A veritable pantheon of German greats lie buried here, including architects Schadow and Schinkel (who designed his own tombstone), composers Paul Dessau and Hanns Eisler, and writers Heinrich Mann and Bertolt Brecht plus his wife Helene Weigel. Brecht lived in a house just north of here, allegedly to be close to his idols, the philosophers Hegel and Fichte, who are also interred here.

Friedrichstadtpassagen Status Central shopping centre/mall  Friedrichstr 68 10117 Tel: 030 2094 7321 (info)  Even if Gucci and Prada don’t quicken your pulse, a stroll through this trio of spectacularly designed shopping complexes (called Quartiers) linked by a subterranean passageway will wow you. Their opening in the mid-90s helped Friedrichstrasse reclaim its historic position as one of Berlin’s luxury hubs, a distinction interrupted by WWII and communism. Quartier 207 is the Berlin branch of the famous French department store Galeries Lafayette. Parisian architect Jean Nouvel designed its spectacular centrepiece, a translucent glass funnel that reflects light like some mutated hologram. Designed by a team led by Henry Cobb, Quartier 206 is a stunning Art Deco-inspired symphony in glass and marble helmed by a tented glass roof. The patterned coloured marble floors are as dizzying as they are dazzling. A nice cafe on the ground floor invites a rest. Cologne-based OM Ungers came up with Quartier 205, whose lofty light court is visually anchored with an installation by John Chamberlain and framed by upmarket fast-food eateries.

Hackesche Höfe Pretty But Pricey architectural feature ; shop onsite

Rosenthalerstr 40/41 10178 Tel: 030 2809 8010 (info) One of Berlin’s biggest tourist magnets, the Hackesche Höfe (1907) is a warren of eight beautifully restored courtyards filled with upmarket cafes, galleries, boutiques and entertainment venues. The nicest one is Hof 1 (enter from Rosenthaler Strasse), whose facades are emblazoned with intricately patterned Art Nouveau tiles designed by August Endell. Court VII offers access to the Rosenhöfe, really just a small, single courtyard with a sunken rose garden. Sculpted filigree metal balustrades, vaguely resembling flowers and botanical tendrils, give this place a whimsical quality.

Hamburger Bahnhof  Where Art Gets Derailed art-related ; budget Invalidenstr 50-51 10115 Tel: 030 3978 3439 (info) Tel: 030 3978 3413 (info) Andy Warhol’s smiling Mao, Cy Twombly’s luminous abstractions, Joseph Beuys’ provocative installations – they’re all part of the collection at Berlin’s premier contemporary art museum, a converted late-neoclassical train station, which picks up where the Neue Nationalgalerie leaves off (about 1950). The museum’s gleaming-white facade exudes great elegance and surprising dignity. In 2004 the space was expanded and now presents exhibits drawn from the prestigious collection of Friedrich Christian Flick, a German industrialist with a passion for modern and contemporary art. Displays change periodically but may include works by Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Anselm Kiefer and Keith Haring, Bruce Naumann, Paul McCarthy, Rodney Graham and Jason Rhoades, along with those who pushed the artistic envelope earlier in the 20th century – among them Sol Lewitt, Marcel Duchamp, Nam June Paik and Sigmar Polke. The entire western wing is dedicated to the enfant terrible of German late-20th-century art, Joseph Beuys. Concerts, lectures, films and meet-the-artists sessions are also on offer. Hours: Tue-Fri 10:00am-6:00pm, Sat 11:00am-8:00pm, Sun 11:00am-6:00pm

Kronprinzenpalais Good For The Great Unter den Linden 3 10117 Tel: 030 2266 7222 (info) A townhouse until Philipp Gerlach got his hands on it in 1732 and converted it into a residence for Frederick the Great, the building was bombed to bits in WWII but faithfully re-created in the late 1960s to serve as the GDR’s guesthouse for visiting dignitaries. On 31 August 1990 the agreement paving the way to German unification was signed here.

Kunsthaus Tacheles Art Squat Oranienburger Str 54-56 10117 Tel: 030 282 6185 (info) Once a department store, this building was used by the Nazis then badly damaged by WWII bombs. After the Wall fell, artists turned it into a giant art squat. Although it has lost its anarchic edge, it’s still a chaotic warren of studios and galleries, with a cinema, cafe and beer garden. There’s always something going on here – check the website.

Molkenmarkt Get Cashed Up at the Münze square Mühlendamm, Stralauer Str & Spandauer Str 10178 Berlin’s oldest market square, Molkenmarkt, had its heyday in the 13th century but is now thoroughly engulfed in roaring traffic. Only a few historic buildings survived war and redevelopment, including the baroque Palais Schwerin, Molkenmarkt, and the Münze, where coins have been minted since 1937. A decorative frieze depicts the evolution of metallurgy and coin minting. Looming above it all is the Altes Stadthaus with its elegant domed tower. Built in 1911 as an extension of the Rotes Rathaus and later used by the GDR’s Ministerrat (council of ministers), it now houses offices of the Berlin senate. In 2004 a copy of the lost statue of the goddess Fortuna returned to its historic spot atop the dome.

Museum Ephraim-Palais Belle of Berlin architectural feature ; budget Poststr 16 10178  Tel: 030 2400 2121 (info) Tel: 030 2400 2189 (info) The 1762 Ephraim-Palais, on the southern edge of the Nikolaiviertel, is considered one of Berlin’s most beautiful buildings. Originally the home of the court jeweller and coin minter Veitel Heine Ephraim, it sports an elegantly curving rococo facade decorated with frolicking cherubs and gilded wrought-iron balconies. The present structure is in fact a complete replica of the original, torn down in 1936 to make room for the widening of Mühlendamm. Fortunately, sections of the precious facade survived in storage in West Berlin until given to the eastern city in 1984 to be used in the construction of the Nikolaiviertel. These days, the Palais presents changing exhibits focusing on aspects of art and the cultural history of Berlin as well as the graphics collection of the Stadtmuseum (City Museum). Architectural highlights include the oval staircase and the Schlüterdecke, an ornate ceiling, on the first floor. Hours: Tue 10:00am-6:00pm, Wed 12:00pm-8:00pm, Thu-Sun 10:00am-6:00pm

Museum für Kommunikation Go Postal Leipziger Str 16 10117  Tel: 030 3020 2940 (info) The ultra-rare Blue Mauritius stamp, the world’s first telephone and three cheeky robots are among the main draws of the Museum für Kommunikation (Museum of Communication). Founded in 1898, it is the world’s oldest postal museum but actually covers the gamut of telecommunication technology up until the Internet age. Hours: Tue-Fri 9:00am-5:00pm, Sat-Sun 11:00am-7:00pm

 Neue Wache Guarding the Victims Unter den Linden 4 10117 Built in 1818, the neoclassical Neue Wache (New Guardhouse) was Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s first major Berlin commission and is now a memorial to the ‘victims of war and tyranny’. Inspired by a classic Roman fortress, it’s the double row of columns supporting a tympanum embellished with allegorical war scenes that gives the building a certain gravitas. The inner courtyard was covered up in 1931 leaving only a skylight, which now spotlights Käthe Kollwitz’s heart-wrenching sculpture Mother and her Dead Son, also known as Pietà. Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm

Site of the Former Palast der Republik Lost But Not Forgotten government

Schlossplatz 10178 Across from the Berliner Dom in the spot where the GDR-era Palast der Republik (Palace of the Republic) once stood is now a huge vacant lot. After years of debate, the concrete, steel and orange glass monstrosity, which accommodated up to 5000 people, was demolished in early 2006, but it’s anyone’s guess as to when reconstruction might actually take place. The GDR’s palace occupied the site of the historical Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace), demolished in 1951 by the East German government despite an international outcry. The Volkskammer (GDR parliament) met in the Kleiner Saal (Small Hall) but the other sections were open to the public. Music stars performed in the Grosse Halle (Big Hall), also used for congresses and balls; and the sweeping foyer showcased the works of contemporary GDR artists. After reunification the palace was boarded up as it was seriously contaminated with asbestos. The current plan foresees a rebuilding of the palace shell with a modern interior that could be used for a variety of purposes such as a museum, a hotel, a library, meeting space, etc. The projected price tag: a billion euros.

Schöneberg

Alter St Matthäus-Kirchhof Middle-Class Mortals religious/spiritual ; cemetery Grossgörschenstr 12 10829 Tel: 030 781 1297 (info) This pretty Kirchhof (cemetery) was a favourite among Berlin’s late-19th-century bourgeoisie and is filled with opulent gravestones. Celebrities here include the Brothers Grimm, physician and politician Rudolf Virchow, and Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and his conspirators who were executed by Nazis after their failed assassination attempt on Hitler. Hours: 8:00am-7:00pm

Grave of Marlene Dietrich Marlene and her Mum free ; religious/spiritual

Stubenrauchstr 43-45 10829 Tel: 030 7560 6898 (info) To pay homage to Marlene Dietrich (1901-92), you have to travel to the little Städtischer Friedhof III (Municipal Cemetery III). This is where the ‘Blue Angel’ makes her final home in a not terribly glamorous plot near her mother’s. Her tombstone says simply ‘Marlene’ along with the inscription: ‘Here I stand on the marker of my days.’ In 2004, avant-garde fashion photographer Helmut Newton was buried four plots away.

Wedding

Anti-Kriegs-Museum Give Peace a Chance free ; museum Brüsseler Str 21 13353 Tel: 030 4549 0110 (info) Tel: 030 4172 9868 (info) The Anti-War-Museum is small but has a big and timely message. Erich Friedrich, who founded it in 1925, was an avowed peacenik and author of War against War (1924). After Nazis trashed his museum in 1933, he emigrated to Belgium and later joined the French resistance. His grandson, Tommy Spree, reopened the museum in 1982 with objects from both world wars. A staircase descends to an air-raid shelter with bunk beds, gas masks and a ‘gas bed’ for babies. The Peace Gallery presents changing exhibits. Hours: 4:00pm-8:00pm

Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer The Building Blocks of Horror library/archive; religious/spiritual  Bernauer Str 111 13355  Tel: 030 464 1030 (info) Tel: 030 4606 9740 (info)  The Berlin Wall’s horrifying history is the theme of this memorial site, which combines a documentation centre, an art installation and a chapel. A small hi-tech exhibit chronicles the events leading up to when the first bricks were laid in 1961. The Versöhnungskapelle (Reconciliation Chapel), with its radiant design, is a good spot to reflect upon it all. Hours: Apr-Oct: 10:00am-6:00pm; Nov-Mar: 10:00am-5:00pm

Tiergarten

Beisheim Center More Money than Sense architectural feature Potsdamer Platz 10785 Tel: 030 203 9800 (info) The last section in the Potsdamer Platz area to be completed was the Beisheim Center, which occupies the triangle created by Lenné-, Bellevue- and Ebertstrasse. Here, Otto Beisheim, one of the wealthiest men in Europe, spent 460million of his own money to immortalise himself in steel and stone. The Beisheim Center was inspired by classic American skyscraper design and consists of five buildings containing top-end hotels, luxury apartments, and offices.

DaimlerChrysler Contemporary Lofty Aspirations free ; art gallery Alte Potsdamer Str 5 10785  Tel: 030 2594 1420 (info) Tel: 030 259 41429 (info) Fans of 20th-century abstract, conceptual and minimalist art should pop into this quiet and elegant gallery. Changing exhibits show off new acquisitions or selections from the corporation’s collection, which ranges from Bauhaus artists like Oscar Schlemmer and Max Bill to international hot shots such as Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons. Ring the bell to be buzzed in.Hours: 11:00am-6:00pm

Schloss Bellevue & Bundespräsidialamt Presidential Snakes and Ladders castle ; literary  Spreeweg 1 10557 Tel: 030 20 000 (info) Tel: 030 2000 1999 (info) This freshly renovated, chalk white, neoclassical palace in the northwest of Tiergarten is the official residence of the German president, at the time of writing, Horst Köhler. It was built in 1785 by Philipp Daniel Boumann for the youngest brother of Frederick the Great, became a school under Kaiser Wilhelm II and then an ethnology museum under the Nazis. The president and his staff have their offices in the 1998 Bundespräsidialamt just south of the palace. This is essentially Germany’s version of the ‘oval office’, which in this case refers to the elliptical shape of the building, which is mantled in glass and polished black granite. Architecture fans might also like a look at the 300m-long (984ft) undulating housing development called Die Schlange (The Snake), which sits northeast of the palace across the Spree.

Gemäldegalerie The One and Only art-related ; budget Matthäikirchplatz 8 10785 Tel: 030 266 2951 (info) Tel: 030 266 2161 (info) If you only have time for one art museum, make it the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery), a spectacular showcase of European painting from the 13-18th centuries in a glorious building designed by Munich architects Hilmer & Sattler. The collection is famous for its quality and breadth. It’s especially strong when it comes to Van Dyk, Hals, Rubens and Rembrandt.Hours: Tue-Wed & Fri-Sun 10:00am-6:00pm, Thu 10:00am-10:00pm

Kupferstichkabinett Stich Sans Schtick art-related ; art gallery

Matthäikirchplatz 8 10785 Tel: 030 266 2951 (info) Tel: 030 266 2959 (info)  The Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints & Drawings) has one of the world’s finest and largest collections of art on paper, including hand-illustrated books, illuminated manuscripts, drawings and prints produced mostly in Europe from the 14th century onward. All the household names are here: Dürer, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Schinkel, Picasso and Giacometti.Hours: Tue-Fri 10:00am-6:00pm, Sat-Sun 11:00am-6:00pm

 Spreebogenpark Civil Servant’s Retreat park Willy-Brandt-Str 10557 This triangular park north of the chancellery was the final piece in the puzzle of the government quarter to be completed in June 2005. It’s a simple, geometric space of lawns dappled with beech and oak trees and offering views of the river, Humboldthafen (Humboldt Harbour) and the glass hall of the new Hauptbahnhof (central train station). The park’s pedestrian-only Gustav-Heinemann-Brücke (bridge) links the train station with the government quarter.

Charlottenburg

Erotik Museum Relax, It’s Just Sex…museum ; quirky  Joachimstaler Str 4 10623 Tel: 030 886 0666 (info) Tel: 030 8862 6620 (info) Berlin’s Erotik Museum is for over-18s only, and the displays include Japanese Shunga art (with their exaggerated genitalia), Chinese sex-ed ‘wedding tiles’, Balinese fertility demons, and life-size dioramas on such topics as fetishism, sadism and masochism. Early erotic cinema and historic chastity belts elicit lots of giggles. Other exhibits focus on the work of gay-movement pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld and of Beate Uhse, Germany’s late sex-toy marketing queen and the brainchild of this museum. Hours: Mon-Sat 9:00am-12:00am, Sun 1:00pm-12:00am

Ludwig Erhard Haus Berlin government Fasanenstr 85 10623 Tel: 030 3151 0276 (info) Tel: 030 3151 0344 (info)  Structure, space, skin – the building philosophy of British architect Nicholas Grimshaw is perfectly illustrated in his 1997 Ludwig-Erhard-Haus, a prime example of ‘organic’ architecture. The armadillo inspired the hi-tech design, with its rib cage of steel girders clad in a skin of glass. It houses the Berlin Stock Exchange and the Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Hours: Mon-Fri 8:00am-5:00pm

Mausoleum Sleep with the Fishes religious/spiritual ; mausoleum Spandauer Damm 20-24 14059 Tel: 030 3196 94107 (info) Framed by trees, near the palace garden’s carp pond, the neoclassical Mausoleum (1810) serves as the final resting place of Queen Luise, for whom Christian Daniel Rauch conceived an especially ornate marble sarcophagus. The structure has been expanded twice to make room for more royals. Hours: Apr-Oct: Tue-Sun 10:00am-5:00pm

Museum Berggruen Classically Arty art gallery Schlossstr 1 14059
Tel: 030 326 9580 (info) Tel: 030 3269 5819 (info) This intimate museum is a delicacy for fans of classical modern art. Picasso is especially well represented with more than 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures. Elsewhere, the delicate and emotional world of Paul Klee is showcased. There are also paper cutouts by Matisse and Giacometti’s sculptures alongside such African art that inspired Klee and Picasso.

Hours: Tue-Sun 10:00am-6:00pm

Museum für Fotografie/Helmut Newton sammlung Helmut Nude-ton Jebensstrasse 2 10623 Tel: 030 3186 4825 (info) Newton was born in Berlin in 1920 and studied photography here before fleeing from the Nazis in 1938. His work reflects a lifelong fascination – or obsession – with the female body. He donated a sizable collection of his images to the city of Berlin shortly before his death in January 2004. They form the core exhibit of the brand-new Museum of Photography. Besides presenting a selection of Newton works, the exhibit is also a bit of a shrine to the man, displaying his cameras, his partially recreated office in Monte Carlo and his library.

Hours: Tue-Wed, Fri-Sun 10:00am-6:00pm, Thu 10:00am-10:00pm

Story of Berlin Listen In Berlin Kurfürstendamm 207-208 10719 Tel: 030 8872 0100 (info) The Story of Berlin is inside the Ku’damm Karree shopping mall in a local history museum with a 21st-century hi-tech twist. You’ll be outfitted with headsets whose narration (in English or German and backed by sound effects) activates as you enter any of the 20 exhibition rooms.Each room encapsulates a different epoch in the city’s history, from its founding in 1237 to its days as the Prussian capital, the Golden Twenties and the dark days of the Third Reich. Hours: 10:00am-8:00pm

 Gedenkstätte Plötzensee The Documentation of Death free; war-related

Hüttigpfad 13627 Tel: 030 344 3226 (info) Nearly 3000 people were executed at Plötzensee prison during the Third Reich, about half of them German resistance fighters. Next door to the hauntingly simple memorial, an exhibit documents how the Nazis gleefully handed out death sentences. Families of the condemned even had to pay for the execution, while executioners received a bonus for each murder. Sections of the original prison are now a juvenile detention centre. Hours: Mar-Oct: 9:00am-5:00pm; Nov-Feb: 9:00am-4:00pm

Grenzwachturm Big Brother Is Watching You budget ; war-related

Pushkinallee & Schlesische Str 12435 East German border guards, machine-guns at the ready, used to keep an eye on the Berlin Wall and the infamous ‘death strip’ from the top of this ugly grey concrete box. The only original GDR guard tower still in situ, it’s now a memorial surrounded by a green patch. The structure itself is currently closed, although you’re free to walk around the grounds.

Prenzlauer Berg

Kulturbrauerei Beery-Eyed art gallery ; shopping centre/mall Knaackstr 97 10435 Tel: 030 4431 5152 (info) Tel: 030 4435 2620 (info) Towers and turrets, gables and arches are not the norm in industrial sites. But for this former brewery, architect Franz Schwechten pulled out all the stops back in 1889. In 1991 this fanciful complex of ornate brick buildings and courtyards was reborn as the Kulturbrauerei (cultural brewery), offering a full range of entertainment.

 Neukölln

Puppentheater-Museum Berlin Who’s Pulling Your Strings? kids ; museum rear Karl-Marx-Str 135 12043 Tel: 030 687 8132 (info) A wonderful diversion, not only for tots, the Puppet Theatre Museum transports you to a fantasy world inhabited by an international cast of hand puppets, marionettes, shadow puppets, stick figures and all manner of dolls, dragons and devils. Many of them perform during regular shows geared towards both kids and adults. Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00am-4:00pm, Sun 11:00am-5:00pm

CENTRE

Just east of the Neue Wache is one of Berlin’s greatest buildings, the old arsenal or Zeughaus, whose size and majesty reflect the dominant role played by militarism in the rise and expansion of Brandenburg-Prussia. The state’s predilection for warfare goes some way to explain why this Baroque masterpiece was built by outsiders: it was begun in 1695 by the Dutchman Johann Arnold Nering, who was succeeded three years later by a partnership of Jean de Bodt, a Huguenot refugee from France, and Andreas Schlüter, a native of the city-state of Danzig (now Gdańsk). Adorning the ground floor of the exterior are 76 keystones of military trophies carved in the workshop of de Bodt and Schlüter. The attic decoration, consisting of huge groups of Mars and Minerva with their entourages, plus a further 44 trophies, is the work of another Huguenot, Guillaume Hulot. For all their splendour, these sculptures are eclipsed by those of the Schlüterhof, the wonderfully harmonious inner courtyard. Here Schlüter carved the 22 keystones known as the Dying Warriors, a deeply moving and highly individualistic pictorial record of death. In a highly controversial move inspired by the success of his Louvre pyramid in Paris, the Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei was commissioned to cover the Schlüterhof with a glass roof, and this is due to open to the public in 2004.

SOUTHERN DISTRICTS

 Gendarmenmarkt

Friedrichstadt was centred on Gendarmenmarkt, the most imposing square in Berlin. It was first laid out in the late seventeenth century, but only given its showpiece character a hundred years later, when Frederick the Great decided to turn it into a monumental public square on the model of the Piazza del Popolo in Rome.

Dominating the square are two churches, which at first sight seem identical, but are actually very different. On the north side is the Französische Friedrichstadtkirche (www.franzoesischer-dom-berlin.de), which was built at the very beginning of the eighteenth century for the influential Huguenot community, whose descendants still worship there. One of their number, military engineer Jean Louis Cayart, was entrusted with the design, which he modelled on the destroyed “mother church” of the Huguenots at Charenton in the Paris outskirts. In 1780, Frederick the Great commissioned one of his favourite architects, Carl von Gontard, to build an extension to the plain and severe original building. This grandiose domed edifice, known as the Turmbau, is crowned by a cupola and fronted by three great pedimented porticos, which are profusely decorated with sculptures made from designs provided by two artists who successively served as directors of Berlin’s academy, Daniel Nikolaus Chodowiecki and Christian Bernard Rode. It completely dwarfs the actual church, and the curious dual structure has popularly if inaccurately been known as the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral) ever since. Within the Turmbau is the Huguenotten-Museum (Tues– Sat noon–5pm, Sun 11am–5pm; €2), which details the history of the Huguenots in France and Brandenburg. A longish spiral stairway leads to the viewing platform (daily 9am–7pm; €2) below the tower, which offers good views over the surrounding construction sites.

Leipziger Strasse and Potsdamer Platz

From Gendarmenmarkt, Charlottenstrasse continues south to Leipziger Strasse, once a main shopping street running from Alexanderplatz to Potsdamer Platz. Towards the western end of the street, at the junction with Mauerstrasse, is the former Imperial postal ministry, now the home of the Museum für Kommunikation (Tues– Fri 9am–5pm, Sat & Sun 11am–7pm; free; www.mspt.de). Its exhibits include a complete set of German stamps from 1849 to the present day, as well as equipment ranging from a prototype of the telephone to the latest computer hardware.

The Pergamon Altar is a monumental construction built during the reign of Greek King Eumenes II in the first half of the 2nd century BC on one of the terraces of the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Pergamon in Asia Minor.

The structure is 35.64 metres wide and 33.4 metres deep; the front stairway alone is almost 20 metres wide. The base is decorated with a frieze in high relief showing the battle between the Giants and the Olympian gods known as the Gigantomachy. There is a second, smaller and less well-preserved high relief frieze on the inner court walls which surround the actual fire altar on the upper level of the structure at the top of the stairs. In a set of consecutive scenes, it depicts events from the life of Telephus, legendary founder of the city of Pergamon and son of the hero Heracles and Auge, one of Tegean king Aleus‘s daughters.

In 1878, the German engineer Carl Humann began official excavations on the acropolis of Pergamon, an effort that lasted until 1886. The excavation was undertaken in order to rescue the altar friezes and expose the foundation of the edifice. Later, other ancient structures on the acropolis were brought to light. Upon negotiating with the Turkish government (a participant in the excavation), it was agreed that all frieze fragments found at the time would become the property of the Berlin museums.

Berlin, Italian restorers reassembled the panels comprising the frieze from the thousands of fragments that had been recovered. In order to display the result and create a context for it, a new museum was erected in 1901 on Berlin’s Museum Island. Because this first Pergamon Museum proved to be both inadequate and structurally unsound, it was demolished in 1909 and replaced with a much larger museum, which opened in 1930. This new museum is still open to the public on the island. Despite the fact that the new museum was home to a variety of collections beyond the friezes (for example, a famous reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon), the city’s inhabitants decided to name it the Pergamon Museum for the friezes and reconstruction of the west front of the altar. The Pergamon Altar is today the most famous item in the Berlin Collection of Classical Antiquities, which is on display in the Pergamon Museum and in the Altes Museum, both of which are on Berlin’s Museum Island.

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