Category Archives: Berlin

Germany, Berlin – (final post from Berlin) – Street Art and cruising around the city – my personal potpourri

For my last Berlin post I am offering up a collection of visuals including street art, parks, statuary and stuff that took my eye. I am definitely coming back soon…..this is a super cool place. Grungy and elegant all at once.

Street art is to be found all around the city so I took a specific tour to see the things I would not have stumbled on myself in some of the grungier parts of the city.

The building below is in the City Centre and you have to admire the colorful effect on three sides of this wall – including the TV Tower and Einstein of course – how Berlin can you get?

Ackerstrasse, Berlin

The works below are in the Hackesche Hofe – now a very gentrified part of town but this alleyway which reminded me of Hosier Lane in Melbourne is the bit that is kept for the artists. The man on the left is not Barack but Otto Weidt who lived here and employed mostly blind and deaf Jews. After the war started he helped to falsify their documents and hid a whole family behind a cupboard in his shop. I didn’t have time to go inside to check out the museum – next time. The Anne Frank is by Jimmy C (English born but Australian) who was commissioned to do it.

Hackesche Hofe and other spots displaying street art

The street art pieces below were my favourites in Hackesche Hofe

Another spot for commissioned street art (if that expression isn’t an oxymoron) is the East Side Gallery – a portion of the Berlin Wall that was deliberately left up so that invited artists could do their thing. I think it has become a bit too touristy and permanent – on the whole, my preference is for transient street art.

Examples from the East Side Gallery including the well known kiss between Brezhnev and Honecker

On the right, more from the East Side Gallery and on the left a very effective piece of art at Oberbaumbrucke

Finally we went to the very grungy parts of Kreuzberg and also the Gurleiter Park – usually in the news for drug busts and suchlike but in the afternoon it was indeed grungy and one nutter did come up to us and tell us what he’d like to do to our mothers but other than it was fine – so glad I grew up in Central London sometimes! here the art tends to be more political and very anti gentrification – in Kreuzberg they are very proud that over 200,000 people signed a petition not to allow another MacDonalds in the area (and sadly they are everywhere else in Berlin). It has a large Turkish population and as a result it is a great place to eat excellent Turkish food.

Some clear messages in Kreuzberg

Talking of food – as I usually am. My contributions for this blog will be “cake and chocolate as art” as seen in the food department of the biggest department store – KadeWe – jaw dropping.

My idea of ‘cake art’

How does anyone ever choose out of these?

The nice thing about a long stay is you can really get to understand the public transport and use it effortlessly (well after a few days!). I loved gadding about on the Ubahn and Sbahn – especially as they never seem to get ridiculously crowded even in the rush hour.

Trains at Ostbahnhof

As my hotel was very close to the Tiergarten – which is really like a forest in the middle of the city, I took the opportunity on many occasions to just stroll around listening to an Audible book on my ipods. Exercise, beautiful visuals and reading – great multi-tasking.

Walking in the Tiergarten

More scenes in the Tiergarten

The memorial to the persecuted LGBTI community with lots of flowers as I was there during Christopher St Parade. Also rock sculpture in the Tier Garden – a global art project but entertaining to me is that one of them was a joint US, German and Venezuelan project – probably wouldn’t happen today!

And I didn’t only go to museums – I also appreciated learning about the city, it’s history, the damage during the War, the Wall and the eventual rebuilding of the City of 1990 onwards – and to be honest it is still a work in progress with a lot of construction (or rather re-construction) to be seen at every corner.

I hadn’t really understood the way in which both Germany and Berlin were divided up after the WW2. First Germany was divided into four occupied parts – Soviet, French, US and British and the same was done to Berlin but this put the city into the strange position of being totally surrounded by Soviet occupied Germany even though three portions of if were Western controlled. When the Cold War took off a few years later and Stalin reneged on the deals with the Allies he really wanted all of Berlin and because he was in charge of all of Germany surrounding it he sieged the city and wouldn’t allow food into it in an attempt to cause those in the Western parts to surrender to his power. But luckily the Brits, US and French weren’t having any of that and for the 11 months of the siege those countries used the area around the now defunct Templehof airport and dropped food and supplies out of the sky (apparently every 90 seconds and known as the Berlin Airlift) to the people of West Berlin so they did not starve and in the end Stalin realised it was not going to be so easy to get his hands on all of Berlin after all.

Another good outcome of getting up early is to see the Brandenburg Gate before the crowds arrive – although the cleaners were hard at it as it was the morning after the Christopher Parade so a lot of beer bottles around – all gone by 10am. It has been recently cleaned up so looks great and it is worth remembering that this famous monument was located in the Death Strip (or No Man’s land) when the Wall was put up so no-one on either side saw it at all for 30 years!

Brandenburg Tor

Always something different to see – the Red Rathaus O(old) and the new (ish) TV Tower, the Gendarmenmarkt and the famous border crossing Checkpoint Charlie.

The varying sites in the centre of Berlin

The construction below is of the massive Humboldt Palace and an example of how much is going on in the city of this kind of thing. It should be completed later this year and I am sure will be another fantastic place to visit. It’s always nice to catch a glimpse of the Victory statue on the main road that separates on the two parts of the Tiergarten

The places you see wandering around Berlin

Old and new mingle well in Berlin

Just as I was leaving the Adlon Hotel my eye was caught by a Bank (yes really!). It is a big building sandwiched between the Adlon and the Brandenburg Tor and I am so glad I wandered to the entrance to take a look. It is the HQ of the DZ Bank and the interior was designed by Frank Gerry (never saw any mention of that in my guide books). I’ve seen a lot of atriums in my time (usually just four sides and a square hole in the middle) but this has Gehry’s usual flare and creativity. What a great place to work. Apparently the area at the bottom can be used as a large auditorium. Nice surprise.

The DZ Bank Corporate Centre

Goodbye to Berlin – it’s been a blast – and I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed a live performance of Cabaret in German in a tented theatre with seats in cabaret style in one of the many central parks. A musical I love and great to see it where it was set. Life is a Cabaret old Chum…..

Cabaret Live in Berlin

Germany, Berlin – a visit to Spandau Citadel and Schloss Charlottenberg

Just a short u-bahn ride from central Berlin takes you to Spandau home of an original fortress since the 1500s. Apparently people in Spandau have not got used to the idea that they are part of Berlin (this happened in 1920) and often say “they are going to Berlin” when they head to the centre of town. Nowadays the citadel is used more for events such as weddings or concerts (they were setting up for a rock festival when I was there). It is very picturesque.

And yes that is a Jewish headstone – it and some others were found when ecavations were taking place – and they date back to the mid 1200s suggesting there was a developed Jewish community here at that time – they were subsequently expelled from Brandendburg in the mid 1500s. At that time it is believed that their gravestones were removed from the grounds and re-purposed as building materials for this castle! They were discovered in the 1950s and 1970s. The place where the Nazi war crimininals were held pending trial was not here but in Spandau prison close by.

I always liked the band Spandau Ballet but now I am not so sure – I checked on where they got the name from – apparently one of the band saw it scrawled on a Berlin nightclub toilet. So far so ok BUT it refers to the way the bodies of many of the hung war criminals twitch and jump on the end of a rope as if dancing. Macabre. Don’t think I will ever listen to them with the same fondness as I used to.

Spandau Zitadelle and Jewish gravestone used as building material

In the Zitadelle’s Unveiled exhibition in the former Provisions Depot you get to wander around massive political monuments which were once located in Berlin but have since been taken down. They cover Prussian Rulers to communist leaders and include the head of Stalin. Actually really very cool as they are all about 20 to 30 feet high – and you can touch them.

Giant political monuments formerly in the city of Berlin

At one point the plans for the 3rd Reich was to rename the new expanded Germany as “Germania” and before the war plans were in place for a new design for Berlin including a new Reichstag building. None of his ever happened due to the War BUT the scale model below shows the egregious over-size of the planned building relative to the current Brandenburg Gate. – which is pretty darned big anyway.

Plan for new Germania Reichstag

Not too far away is Schloss Charlottenburg which was the summer residence for Sophie Charlotte – the wife of Elector Frederick III. It dates back to the late 1600s with extensions in the 1700s. As with many museums in Berlin you go to visit one place and find, in this case, that it is actually made up of 5 places to visit – the Alte Schloss, the New Wing (1800s when Queen Louise lived there), the Mausoleum, the Belvedere and the Neuer Pavilion not to mention beautiful gardens. I managed four of the five – will have to do the Belvedere next time plus two very good museums right outside! The rulers during the period 1620 to 1941 were the Hohenzollern family. It is believed that Napoleon spent one night here – not by invitation!

The front and back of Schloss Charlottenburg

Spacious rooms in the Alte Schloss

The Golden Gallerie in the New Wing

A beautifully Shinkel designed bedroom for Queen Louise. Silk fabric walls.

Gorgeous room designs in the New Wing. Did Napoleon sleep in the bed behind the curtain?

Art and furniture in the New Wing

The Mausoleum in the grounds where the Hohenzollern are interned.

A bevy of swans including some teenage cygnets that I spotted in the gardens

Berlin – the Jewish Quarter (Scheunenviertel) and the Jewish Museum

You cannot go far in Germany without coming across aspects of Berlin’s long Jewish history. Whether it is the former Jewish Quarters – now trendy areas with shops and art galleries or museums about Jewish history or holocaust memorials. Certainly no-one here is trying to sweep anything under the carpet and I heard that Berlin has the fastest growing Jewish community in Europe.

Here are a few direct and indirect views of Jewish Berlin.

The Scheunenviertel (or barn quarter) was home to thousands of Jews and the area was neglected totally after WW2. Now it is a fashionable and trendy place which includes the Dorotheenstadtischer Cemetery which is a lovely peaceful place and the final resting place for many well known Berlin luminaries including Bertolt Brecht.

The Dorotheenstaddtischer Cemetery in the Scheunenviertel district

The Hackesche Hofe is an area of restored buildings including interconnecting courtyards (indeed courtyard are really lovely in this area so any time you see something that looks like access take a wander to check out what’s behind)

Courtyards near Hackesche Hofe with the Neue Synagogue in the background

The tiled courtyards in the Hackesche Hofe are really well done and restored to look like they did in former days. And of course there is always a line-up outside the currywurst shop. Curywurst – a bratwurst with bbq sauce and curry powder on top is a strange Berlin speciality and supposedly was developed when Berlin was split into four sectors after WW2 (British, American, French and Soviet). The addition of bbq sauce and curry powder was a kind of “thank you” the the Americans and the Brits who are very fond of these items respectively. Probably an apocryphal tale and good knows what the French made of this!??

Hackesche Hofe courtyards

The Neue Synagogue is spectacular on the outside. It dates to 1866 and was once the largest the Europe. As I think I mentioned before it survived Kristallnacht but was severely damaged during the WW2. As a result the interior is now a museum showing photos of how it once looked inside – sad loss,

Neues Synagogue

Germany’s Holocaust Memorial was just 5 minutes walk from my hotel so I hauled myself out of bed one Sunday morning and was there to walk around at 7.30 – just me at that time of day and it gave me a very different perspective. This was opened in 2005 and consists of 2711 concrete steels of various heights and dimensions slap bang in the middle of the City. It is controversial on many counts – the perceived lack of artistic creativity (many say it is boring); the sign which says that it commemorates murdered Jews but not which ones or why etc etc.

I found walking around on my own gave a very different feel to the space than when it is overrun with selfie sticks and picknickers – some people have no respect – and maybe that is the biggest indictment. By enabling people to wander all around it 24/7 it may be easy to forget why it was put there in the first place. Everyone has different views – here are mine – from a photographic perspective at least….

Holocaust Memorial – Denkmal

Holocaust Memorial – early on a Sunday morning

The Jewish museum is partly under restoration at the moment but it is an interesting half old and half very modern design. It deliberately has a lot of “voids” created in its design to represent the places where Jews are not

Germany, Berlin – more fab museums and art – Part 2

Even though I am here for two weeks I am not going to get through all the places I want to see – especially the museums. But I am giving it my best shot knowing I will be back.

The Gemaldegalerie (or Old Master Paintings) has a great collection of European art from the 1300s to 1800. When you buy a three day museum pass you can go into a choice of 30+ museums over 3 consecutive days for free and you get audio guides for free too. It is the latter that is my nemesis as once I start listening I have to keep listening and next thing I know four hours have gone by. This certainly happened to me in the Gemaldergalerie located in the futuristic Kulturforum which also houses the concert hall for the Berlin Philharmonic and many embassies.

The modern environs of the Kulturforum and the genuinely old St Matthäuskirche

One of the nice things about visiting German museums and art galleries is getting more of an appreciation for the art from this country where of course the collections are extensive.

Below are examples of Holbein, Dürer and Cranach

German artists knew their stuff!

Of course the Gemaldergalerie also has artists from other parts of Europe – some of my faves below – Therbusch self portrait (the monocle is so well done I thought if was hanging from the painting at first not part of it), De La Tour, Rembrandt (feisty youthful self portrait) and Botticelli.

Selection from the Gemaldergalerie

More Botticelli and Cranach – I think my friend Sylvie would comment that while these are magnificent paintings they also an excuse for male titillation pre-porn mags. She may be right?!

Selection from the Gemaldegalerie

And some more I liked (sorry Rembrandt crept in again!). The strong and intelligent looking lady at the bottom is by Velazquez.

I am always thrilled to see a Caravaggio and this one was great – Love Conquers All – a look at sacred and profane love where profane, in the form of Cupid, is clearly winning out and having a grand old time. Given this was painted in the early 1600s it was very cheeky even then but also the start of the naturalist rather than idealized style that so many copied afterwards. Possibly the figure was modeled by one of his apprentices.

Caravaggio – Love conquers All

His arch enemy the painter Baglione had done something similar earlier but in the traditional stylised format but he felt that Caravaggio had stolen his idea so he reworked his painting to give the Devil in his painting the face of Caravaggio! The first version with the devil turning away is right next to the Caravaggio in this museum. The one with the devil’s face in full is in Rome

Baglione’s first version

And if I’m not falling for Caravaggio’s then it has to be Vermeer – there are two here but this is my favourite – The Glass of Wine. As usual with his paintings you have to wander what is going here. Why is she drinking but he is not? Is she being seduced? He doesn’t seem that interested to me? I wander if it is a draught she is drinking to miscarry a pregnancy? That is just my theory though!!

Also in the Kulturforum is the Kunstgewerbe Museum – which houses craft objects and fashion and much more from the Middle Ages to today. Loved it here.

Tiffany glass, Art Deco and writing and jewellery boxes

Gorgeous dresses from a while back and the necessary undergarments – no worse than Spanx?

Can you ever have too many lbds? Dior and YSL do their thing.

Another museum I visited on Museum Island was the Neues Museum which now houses the Egyptian collection and the especially famous Bust of Nefertiti. The latter was in a room on its own but no pics allowed. Suffice to say that I was in the room with it alone most of the time – so much space so few people in Berlin – love that. I am showing two shots from the web as she is stunningly beautiful but even better to see it for real. A Must. And of course lots of controversy about whether it should be returned to Egypt!

Bust of Nefertiti, Neues Museum

I have a real love of Egyptian culture because they wanted to create beauty from such an early period of history and they did an excellent job too. The figure below is carved from wood – about 2300 BC!! So much movement.

The figures below are all from tombs of kings or wealthy nobles. The top left is an offerer bearer or handmaiden and the top right is a cloaked figure. The ones below are especially lovely. On the left the man’s wife and daughter have their arms around him and on the right, unusually, the man and the woman have their arms around each other (usually just the women who have their arms around the men). Touching.

Below top right is an engraving of Nefertiti and Akhenaten and their three daughters basking in the rays of the sun – this was the first time a religion had been monotheistic in that only the Sun (actually the light that the Sun generated) was venerated above all others.

From a different era the Golden Hat is one of just four found from Bronze Age Europe. It has very detailed carvings particularly believed to be about astrology and the calendar and lunar changes. It appears they were worn for certain religious ceremonies and were so tall so that they could be seen from far away. Fascinating.

When I visited the Pergamon museum some of the items were still under renovation and in particular the thing everyone wants to see – the Pergamon Altar. However given it is likely to be 2025 before this has been restored enough for people to have access again this is an option I thought I would check out instead. It was actually surprisingly good. A digital artist has created a panoramic vision of not just the altar but all the surrounding areas of Pergamon as it would have been in the day and you can view it at ground level of any of four levels you can climb up in the center of the circular room – there is sound and light turning day to night and it is pretty darn fab. Some attempts to give a feel for the effect are below.

Roll on 2025.

And finally for this post a quick visit to the Nikolaikirche which was originally built in 1230 but has been restored a few times. It is super modern inside.

Strange hanging Jesus and St Nicholas piece – not sure why?

And then next door to the Knoblauchhaus – a joy for Biedermeier furniture lovers.

Germany, Berlin – Museums Part 1. Museum Insel (Alte Nationalgalerie and the Pergamon), Deutsches Historisches Museum, the Berlinische Gallerie and the Berliner Dom. A feast of art, architecture, culture and history

I make no apologies for the large numbers of references to museums and art galleries in my Berlin blogs. There are are so many good ones. They are generally huge, airy, well designed and never overcrowded whether by people or too much stuffed in one space. A nice change from the madness that is the British Museum or Louvre these days.

The Museum Insel is an island in the River Spree in central Berlin which houses 5 major museums plus the massive Berlin Dom. Much of it was destroyed during the war but luckily most of the treasures were taken out beforehand and saved. It was only seriously started to be restored in the 1990s and is now a world heritage site. The entry to the Neues Museum designed by British architect Chipperfield was only officially opened a couple of weeks ago. Some of the museums are still being renovated and the whole thing should be complete by 2025 but plenty to see and enjoy before then.

The pictures below give you a feel of the island the exterior views of the Dom as well as the Alte National Galerie, the Altes Museum and the very new Neues Museum (interiors of the latter to follow in part 2)

Different viewpoints of Museum Insel in Berlin

The spacious and classic proportions of the interior of the Alte Nationalgalerie. I liked the (now green) Rodin bronze – makes a change from the Thinker and the Lovers!

Also interesting to see an exhibit of the paintings (the “Paris Street, Rainy Day” below is his) and collections of Gustave Caillebotte who was a major patron of Impressionism before it became fashionable and bought a lot of pieces from artists now very well known just to keep them afloat when their talent was not at all appreciated.

Special exhibit at the Alte Nationalgalerie

The Berliner Dom dominates the Museum Insel on an island that already has a lot of impressive buildings on it.

The exterior of the Berliner Dom

And the interiors don’t disappoint either (40 years of restoration on this after the war).It is very ornate for a Protestant cathedral. All the former members of the ruling families are buried here in ornate coffins both at ground level and in the crypt.

Interiors of the Berliner Dom

The Pergamon Museum is another wonder to behold. A mix or original items and recreated ones and a combo of the two makes your jaw drop due to the sheer size and magnificence of these finds from Babylon, Assyria and Jordan to name a few. Some items are like the famous Pergamon Altar are being restored but here is a taste of what can be viewed. I was a bit awestruck!

Market Gate of Miletus (AD100) – 52 feet high and the floor Mosaic of Orpheus

The Ishtar Gate and the Mshatta Facade

Then we went to something completely different – the Berlinischer Gallerie in an almost residential area. It had a cool feel to it with great interiors but also there was an exhibition about an artist called Lotte Lasserstein. Neither Sylvie or I had heard of her – she lived 1898 to 1993 but we both really liked her work. Being partially Jewish she left Berlin and went to live in Sweden at the start of the war and never came back and much of her work reflects her feeling of being displaced from her real home, albeit safe. I hope she gets better known globally.

Lotte Lasserstein artworks

I didn’t do all these spots on the same day but am grouping some together with similar themes!

The Deutsches Historisches Museum is very close to the Museum Insel and comprehensively covers German history from it’s start in the Middle Ages to today. One thing you have to say for the Germans is that they do not flinch from telling their history as honestly as they can even when it does not show them in a very good light. There seems to be a strong need not to hide or forget the atrocities – I admire this as it would have been much easier to sweep some of their history under the carpet and just stopped talking about it.

This museum is a bit like the Met in NYC in that is the old and new museums joined together across the courtyard of the old museum with a lovely glass overlay. The Glass courtyard roof and the new building were designed by I M Pei so also shades of the Presidential Library in Boston in its design. It’s quite lovely I think. Glass is deliberately prevalent in a lot of the newer buildings in Berlin – this is to try and represent the concept of transparency in all things.

The Courtyard connecting the old and new parts of the Deutsches Historisches Museum

The courtyard has 22 amazing reliefs of the “Dying Warrior” to portray the horrors of war.

There was a really good 45 minute movie at the start which took you through the history at a high level – really helpful to watch before looking around the exhibits.

When it comes to the history of the country everything is covered from a Cranach portrait of Martin Luther to Biedermeier furniture to Meissien porcelain.

Different eras of German history

And when it comes to more recent history there is everything from the Victory statue, to nazi uniforms and propaganda posters and a few sections of the Berlin Wall.

Germany, Berlin – a hidden Berlin walk, the Rathaus and a tour of the Reichstag

On arrival in Berlin I met up with my friends Sylvie and Andrew – this is the third year we have met up somewhere during my travels.

We took a walking tour of Hidden Berlin with Urban Adventures – a company I have used before and like as their groups are very small and they tend to focus on food and/or being off the beaten track.

We started off our tour learning a little about Martin Borman’s attempt to escape from Berlin at the end of the war. The day after Goebbels and his family had committed suicide, he took the biggest tank the Germans had and early one morning had it driven down the Main Street and across a bridge on the River Spree. At first everyone was shocked to see this but then the multitude of Russians around started firing and disabled the tank quite quickly – given it was rather slow! He then tried to escape on foot but was quickly captured with his aides. They all had secret cyanide tables in their teeth and this was not detected so he was able to commit suicide rather than stand trial.

The building below next to FreidrichStrasse Station is the Palace of Tears and is built around the area where the those crossing the East/West border went past the guards to be checked. This space has been kept as it was and by going through a very narrow passage you switch from East to West Germany. In only three days here so far there is no doubt that the Wall had a tremendous emotional impact on the people of this city especially as it went up overnight so the shock factor was even greater. Having seen the separation wall in Palestine I understand how confronting a wall through the middle of a place that everyone lives in and could cross before can be very confronting.

The sculpture below is called “Train to Life; Train to Death” and is part of a series of 5 with the others being in London, Hamburg, Gdańsk and the Netherlands. These were done by Frank Meisler who himself was lucky to be on a Train to Life (the kinder transport just before the war that enabled about 10,000 Jewish children to escape to the UK and other locations). That’s the two children shown below. The other side of the sculpture reflects the children who ended up on trains taking them to concentration camps and usually certain death. There are more of them to reflect the weighting of how many more children dies in the holocaust (estimated at around 1 million)

Outside the Palace of Tears and the Meisler sculpture

We then briefly headed to what was the Jewish Quarter where I had my first Pfannkuchen (traditional non greasy doughnut with jam or very light custard cream) – it was from a bakery that has been specialising in them for 85 years and it was so delicious I ate it without taking a pic – no doubt I will try them again so will add to a future food blog!

The Grand synagogue below is unusual in that it was not wrecked in 1938 on Kristallnacht when the Nazis all over Germany ransacked the synagogues in the country and smashed everything they could find (hence Kristallnacht as there was so much broken glass around afterwards). This synagogue had been built much earlier in the 1840s and a big German nationalist hero of the time – Otto von Bismarck – had stated that it represented true German nationalism and should be respected. Apocryphally, when the Nazis thugs appeared and started to get ready to smash it up along with all the others – two very brave men came foreword and told them that this building had been sanctioned by the greatest German nationalist ever and did they really want to explain why they had broken it all up to their leader – also a strong nationalist. They decided to step back from destroying it on that night.

The Sophia church below is also interesting because it is a place where Martin Luther King came and preached in 1964! Who knew? He had been invited by the West German government to speak on behalf of the recently deceased JFK and he was interested in visiting East Germany. The US said no and took his papers away but he got someone to drive him to the checkpoint and the East Germans decided to let him in as they thought he might be a potential Marxist recruit. As this was an impromptu visit crowds gathered to see and hear him by word of mouth and it as as if he had appeared out of thin air. While he started to preach normally in the first 5 minutes after that he spoke about “if people find themselves in an environment where they are not allowed to live and pray freely there are people in other parts of the world who know about this and want to help them and set them free”. His way of giving support but NOT appreciated by the East Germans who swiftly sent him back across the border!

A fact I never knew is that MLK’s father came to Germany to study in the 30s and was so taken with the Lutheran approach to religion that he changed his son’s middle name to Luther out of respect for Martin Luther the founder of Lutheranism in Germany.

Great synagogue, Jewish quarter and St Sophia church

We then visited a portion of the Wall that remains as it was when it was in use. You can see the watch tower of which there were many and peek through the gaps as people did back then to see the No-man’s land or the “Death Strip” as it is known. A lot of people used to live there – their houses were just mowed down and they were moved elsewhere when the wall went up in 1961. BRUTAL

The Wall – as it was back then

Finally on a busy day i wandered past the red brick Rathaus (the Town Hall) and took a look in inside. I liked the stained glass windows which had representations of different professions.

The Berlin Rathaus

Headed back to the hotel to change and then onto an evening tour of the Reichstag (or German Parliament Building)

An interesting building as it still has remains of the old design and building including the magnificent frontage and then of course had modern parts added and the famous dome all designed by Norman Foster. Tours are free but you have to pre book and be cleared to attend and bring passports. The tour is about 90 minutes.

Original entrance to the Reichstag

Norman Foster’s Reichstag dome

Below is the interior of the dome and members of the public can walk up to the top on the yellow walkways which means that when parliament is sitting they can look up and see people walking about their heads. All symbolic to remind them that they represent the people who are above them.

The parliament area inside the Dome

Below is some of the original building with Russian graffiti written by the soldiers placed their at the time of liberation. The Reichstag was a key building they wished to liberate. The boxes on the right are all the same (to reflect equality) and reflect the name of every elected official that has sat in the Reichstag. A few had an additional citation if they were killed as part of the rise of the Nazi party.

Russian Grafitti and metal box sculpture

The interiors of the massive set of buildings is modern and light and airy. The public are able to wander around the outside, picnic and enjoy the environment.

Interiors of the modern Reichstag

This is a view from inside looking through the modern windows and then through the old pillars onto the main entrance.

Interiors of the Reichstag

There is an excellent restaurant on the terrace at the top of the Reichstag so we had dinner there and got to enjoy the terrace in the evening after all the other visitors had gone home.

Great day in Berlin.

Dinner on the Reichstag Terrace