Berlin quickly became one of our favourite European destinations during our backpacking trip around Western Europe. We still can’t quite put our finger on the exact reason why, we just felt the love of the city everywhere we turned. It must have something to do with the laid-back, friendly vibe we felt from the city, plus the fact that Berlin has so much history and culture. Learning about their past was fascinating for us to be able to become more knowledgeable and aware of even the not-so-nice parts of the history.
These are some important sights we enjoyed seeing and experiencing while exploring Berlin:
Holocaust Memorial – Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The memorial opened in May 2005, and consists of 2711 blocks of different heights, with a small information centre underneath. It is almost like you are being swallowed up by the art representation as you wander through what partly seems to symbolize the loss of touch in human reason and the upheaval of the lives of the Jews. Read more about our experience at the Holocaust Memorial here.
The Branderburg Gate is impressive with its grandeur size, how well conserved it is, and the amount of architectural detail. It is a great symbol or German and European history, even used as a place of demonstrations from the Nazi era. The gate is well lit at night, making it a sight to see both during the day and after dark. Its interesting when you are admiring the gate to visualize what it would have looked like with the German army matching through there with all of the noise the anticipation of going to war. Take a moment to reflect about how many people died in the struggle to be free, and how lucky we are to be able to have so much more freedom today.
This impressive building is an important part of Berlin’s history, as well as an important chapter in Hitler’s reign. You’ll be rewarded for waiting in the huge line with amazing city views.The 360 degree views from the dome are gorgeous. The architecture and history of the building make it a must see.
It was interesting to see a remaining portion of the Berlin Wall, and to be able to visualize how difficult it would be to escape being “imprisoned” in East Berlin. Makes you really wonder what life would have been like on the “other side” of the wall. The area where the Berlin wall is still standing and covered in graffiti is a must see while in Berlin. It was an interesting feeling to be able to take a stroll along such an iconic part of Berlin’s history.
You’ll find a well repaired guardhouse with uniformed guards standing, but keep in mind that the guards are not on active duty, but rather really just there for photos. You’ll find yourself paying a couple euros if you want to pose for a photo. Even if it does seem really fake, it is worth it to at least make a quick stop so that you can snap a few photos. Take the opportunity to imagine the past that once was, gain some knowledge of the history from reading the boards along the sidewalk, and taking a look at all the photos displayed.
Even from far away, you can see how beautiful this building is. The size of the cathedral is absolutely mesmerizing and architectural design is outstanding and the cathedral has a great history to tell. Allow yourself a little time to admire the carvings and design of the building. The building is so huge that you feel so tiny standing near it; it is a real architectural peace of art.
Soviet War Memorial
The memorial is located at the point where Albert Speer, the main architect of the Third Reich, planned the cross of two axes. The memorial shows a solider of the Red Army standing on a colonnade, with two T34 Soviet Tanks. In the park behind, there are 2200 Soviet Soldiers buried that lost their lives during the battle of Berlin.
On the city tour we took, we were shown the location of the bunker that was the last command centre of the Third Reich. It was in this bunker on April 30th, 1945 that Adolf Hitler committed suicide with his wife, Eva Braun. The bunker is said to be 12 meters below ground level with 4 metre thick side and ceiling walls.
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city. There is a large and very beautiful formal garden surrounded by woodland that was added behind the palace. During the Second World War the palace was badly damaged, but was since reconstructed.
We took a New Europe Berlin walking tour and highly recommend the company. The guide was very friendly, knowledgeable and we found that it was the perfect introduction to Berlin and a great way to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings and have a great history lesson at the same time.
What are some sights in Berlin that you loved witnessing?