berlin germany
Berlin is not an imperial or world city in the manner of London or Paris. It subsequently lacks the grand institutions that go with such identity. It is, however, a city that embodies many cultural and historic movements architecturally, showing off its huge intellectual legacy to the world (something the aforementionnned cities could only dream about...)....
The city has no definite centre and pockets of attractions are dotted all over. The densest array of sights lies to the east of the Brandenburg Gate, on either side of Unter den Linden. West Berlin's centre has less to offer. Nevertheless visitors should take a look at the broken shard of a church, the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, which serves as a brutal reminder of World War II. The nearby Zoo and Aquarium also provide a happy distraction.
Palaces, Monuments
Berlin is packed with museums, churches, history and culture. From the great Stalinist allees to the fantastic proto-Modern works of Schinkel, this is a city that was almost created by ideas, rather than people...
10. Brandenburg Gate 11. Friedrich the Great on the UDL 29. The Wall 33. Neue Wache
17. Schloss Charlottenburg 18. Sans Souci 19. Siegessaeule 23. Soviet Memorial in Tiergarten
52. Soviet War Memorial (Treptower Park)      
Arts and Culture ( Museums, Galleries, Libraries, Theatres)
Berlin has over 170 museums, making the city one of the world's prime locations for high-calibre historical collections of art, culture and technology, along with scientific collections.
02. Alte Nationalgalerie 07. New National Gallery 03. Altes Museum 04. Berlin Philharmonic Hall
09. Schauspielhaus 20. Juedisches Museum 45. Maxim-Gorki-Theater 46. Alte "Königliche Bibliothek"
  38. Kunsthaus Tacheles 36. Bodemuseum 40. Berliner Stadtschloss
41. Neues Museum 42. Pergamon Museum 43. Berlin State Opera 44. Theater am Schiffbauerdamm
Churches and Synagogues
12. Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche 13. Berliner Dom / Berlin Cathedral 15. Neue Synagogue 30. Marienkirche
35. Französischer Dom 47. St.-Hedwigs-Kathedrale 51 Die Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (Schinkel Museum). 49. Elisabethkirche
01.A. E. G. High Tension Factory 06. Mossehaus 48. Alte Kommandantur 50. Zeughaus
08. Observatory in Berlin 54. Einstein Turn 55 Hermannplatz Karstadt  
Squares, Areas and Parks
14. Nikolaiviertel 22. Gendarmenmarkt 16. Potsdamer Platz 32. East Berlin
39. Museumsinsel 53. Lustgarten    
Government, Utilities
26. DDR Parliament Palast der Republik 27. Checkpoint Charlie 25. Alexanderplatz Fernsehturm 21. Reichstag
24. Russian Embassy 31. Das Rote Rathaus 34. Olympic Stadium 37. The Chancellery
05. Flats at Hansaviertel 28. Karl-Marx Allee    

Rubble, Tears and Dreams

In Goodbye to Berlin, Christopher Isherwood claimed that 1920s Berlin had two centres - the garish commercialism around Bahnhof Zoo or the Imperial Pomposity of Unter den Linden and the Museum Island. Today you'd have to add a third, rather less lauded, except by Alfred Doblin and Fassbinder, who were depicting a very different place: Alexanderplatz, and the Stalinist plazas and squares that radiate out from it, with their vast streets, prefab towers, wide open roads and fragments of socialist realist public art - a place where, aesthetically at least, the Cold War never ended.

Alexanderplatz was my first proper sight of Berlin on my first visit a few years ago, and with the instrumental half of "Heroes" playing on my headphones it was the most perfect meld of sound and location I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Alexanderplatz and environs is perhaps the most sublime example of East German planning. There is a sense of incredible vastness here - not because the buildings are all that high, apart from the TV Tower they're all pygmies by Canary Wharf standards. Rather, there's an uncanny Scale: everything is too wide, rather than too tall. This collection of towers and Spaceage accoutrements (the best of which being the wonderful atomic clock) is being actively cut down to size by the 'critical reconstruction' demanded by Hans Stimmann, a planner bent on restoring a Wilhelmine 19th century unity that never really existed, with pointless roads cutting into the public space. His blank, ponderous contribition to urbanism is catalogued in Igor Paasch's excellent short film 'Danke, Hans'.

The metallic Kaufhaus has already been 'critically' reconstructed into a stripped classical block that evokes Nazi architecture more than anything else (and more of that later). In the 1920s Berlin's socialist head of planning, Martin Wagner (more of whom later too) commissioned the likes of Erich Mendelsohn and Mies van der Rohe to remake Alexanderplatz into a Modernist showcase, something only really achieved under the DDR in the 1960s: fittingly, the individual buildings aren't exactly wildly individualistic, but as an ensemble they have an undeniable power that most affect to find intimidating - yet Jane Jacobs-types should note that it worked just fine as the public space where protests forced the collapse of the DDR. The most remarkable of its buildings, Hermann Henselmann's Haus des Lehrers, is notable for being rather sweet, with its glittering Walter Womacka mural of jolly proletarians.

Henselmann, designer of the towers of the Stalinallee/Karl-Marx-Allee, the one time 'Leninplatz', and the first draft of the TV Tower, is a fascinating character. A bauhaus modernist banned from practice by the Nazis, he was a pal of Brecht's, one one of whose Herr Keuner stories concerned Henselmann's dilemma when he was required to adopt the Stalinist wedding cake style for this colossal boulevard, designed to demonstrate the DDR's anti-modernist populism and grandiose ambitions. Mr Keuner reassures the architect that after a few years the ornament will crumble off and the pure lines could shine forth. Which it did, but post-renovation the Stalinallee towers are in pristine condition, encrustations and all, so the lines in question are encumbered by richly fascinating and perverse over-ornamentation. The nearby Leninplatz is perhaps what he would have done without Party pressure: curvaceous, brightly coloured, prefabricated and stripped down, topped with a stepped central tower and a whacking great statue of Lenin: replaced, on its 1990s renaming as United Nations Platz (from action to inaction) with some random boulders.

Leninplatz was Henselmann's only essay in Plattenbauten, the standardised prefab construction method that pervades practically all East German building, high or low rise. Plattenbau has long been a fetish of hipster folk in the city, and its easy to see why - for all its quite astonishing lack of inspiration or originality, this is naif architecture: childishly simple blocks upon blocks upon blocks, with pretty 60s patterns and tiles strategically placed. Accordingly, one of the Alexanderplatz towers, the Haus des Reisens, now has a club on top, WEEK12END, which I went to for Ellen Allien and Sascha Funke. Alas, despite the rather terrifying view, the club was decidedly frumpy. Annoyingly, I've never managed to find the place in Berlin where the people look good and the music is loud. A few years ago I was fixated with the Des Essientes disco of people like Ada and Superpitcher, or Michael Mayer (circa 'Amanda' or 'Falling Hands') with their neurasthenic elegance and precise blurts of noise, but I've totally lost touch with microhouse, minimal or whatever we're calling it now. The flip towards electro-house might have been the reason for this - I liked the records, but look at a picture of Booka Shade or Tiefschwarz - eurgh. And when something is described as 'the new Daft Punk' my heart sinks (the best house things I've heard in the last couple of years are the decidedly un-hep recent Armand van Helden stuff so my opinion is perhaps moot). Nonetheless, if anyone has any recommendations, please do comment and help me not to miss the boat, again.

Much, much more fun was sitting watching the clones a-jacking to some rather punishing techno in the stunning red leatherette Ostmoderne Cafe Moskau basement, further down the Karl-Marx-Allee - which resembles an Eastern Bloc Eames in its pretty glass surfaces and cubic elegance. Nonetheless, the missing link that aesthetically joins the minimalism of one period/art form with another is still somewhat mysterious.

Special thanks to
Map- the Museumsinsel

Basic information
Area : 891.82 km² City
5,370 km² Metro Area
Population : 3,398,205 04/2006
3,675,000 Urban Area
4,262,480 Metro Area
Density : 3,810/km² City
Elevation : 34 - 115 m
Coordinates : 52°31'12?N, 13°24'36?E
Time zone : UTC+1 /Summer UTC+2
Website : 
Country : Germany
Federal State : Berlin
Subdivisions : Twelve boroughs
Governing Mayor : Klaus Wowereit SPD
Governing Parties : SPD / Linkspartei
Federal State Election : 2011
Berlin is the capital city and a state of Germany. It is the country's largest city in area and population, and the second most populous city in the European Union.

Berlin is one of the most influential centers in European politics, culture and science.[1][2] The city serves as an important junction of continental transportation and is home to some of the world's most prominent universities, research faculties, and museums.[3] Berlin is a major tourist destination and is recognized for its diverse range of convention venues and media outlets.[4][5][6]

The rapidly changing metropolis at present enjoys an international reputation for its festivals, vibrant nightlife, contemporary architecture, and avant-garde arts.[7][8] Being home to people from over 180 nations, Berlin is a magnet for individuals who are attracted by its liberal lifestyle, urban eclecticism, and artistic freedom.[9] [10]

First documented in the 13th century, Berlin became the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701 and of the German Empire in 1871. It remained so during periods of Weimar Republic and Third Reich until 1945. After World War II, the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) claimed East Berlin as its capital, while West Berlin was a West German enclave surrounded by East Germany. Following the reunification in 1990, Berlin again became the capital of Germany.



Berlin is located in eastern Germany, about 110 kilometers (65 miles) west of the border with Poland. Berlin's landscape was shaped by ice sheets during the last ice age. The city center lies along the river Spree in the Berlin-Warsaw Urstromtal (ancient river valley), formed by water flowing from melting ice sheets at the end of the last Ice Age. The Urstromtal lies between the low Barnim plateau to the north, and the Teltow plateau to the south. In Spandau, Berlin's westernmost borough, the Spree meets the river Havel, which flows from north to south through western Berlin. The course of the Havel is more like a chain of lakes, the largest being the Tegeler See and Großer Wannsee. A series of lakes also feeds into the upper Spree, which flows through the Großer Müggelsee in eastern Berlin.[11]

Substantial parts of present-day Berlin extend onto the low plateaus on both sides of the Spree Valley. Large parts of the boroughs Reinickendorf and Pankow lie on the Barnim plateau, while most of the boroughs Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Tempelhof-Schöneberg, and Neukölln lie on the Teltow plateau. The borough of Spandau lies partly within the Berlin Urstromtal and partly on the Nauen Plain, which stretches to the west of Berlin. The highest elevations in Berlin are the Teufelsberg in the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and the Müggelberge in the borough of Treptow-Köpenick. Both hills have an elevation of about 115 meters (377 feet). The Teufelsberg is in fact an artificial pile of rubble from the ruins of World War II.

Berlin has a temperate/mesothermal climate (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system. The mean annual temperature for Berlin-Dahlem (a location within Steglitz-Zehlendorf) is 9.4°C (48.9°F) and its mean annual precipitation totals 578 mm (22.8 inches). The warmest months are June, July, and August, with mean temperatures of 16.7 to 17.9°C (62.1 to 64.2°F). The coldest are December, January, and February, with mean temperatures of -0.4 to 1.2°C (31.3 to 34.2°F).[12] Berlin's built-up area creates a microclimate, with heat stored by the city's buildings. Temperatures can be 4°C higher in the city than in the surrounding areas.

The name Berlin, is of uncertain origin, but may be related to the Old Polabian stem berl-/birl- "swamp".

The first written mention of towns in the area of present-day Berlin dates from the late 12th and early 13th century. Spandau is first mentioned in 1197, and Köpenick in 1209, though these areas did not join Berlin until 1920. The central part of Berlin can be traced back to two towns: Cölln (on the Fisher Island) is first mentioned in a 1237 document, and Berlin (across the Spree in what is now called the Nikolaiviertel) in one from 1244. From the beginning, the two cities formed an economic and social unit. In 1307, the two cities were united politically. Over time, the twin cities came to be known simply as Berlin, the larger of the pair.

In 1415 Frederick I became the elector of the Margraviate of Brandenburg, which he ruled until 1440. Subsequent members of the Hohenzollern family ruled until 1918 in Berlin, first as electors of Brandenburg, then as kings of Prussia, and finally as German emperors. In 1448 citizens rebelled in the “Berlin Indignation” against the construction of a new royal palace by Elector Frederick II Irontooth. This protest was not successful, however, and the citizenry lost many of its political and economic privileges. In 1451 Berlin became the royal residence of the Brandenburg electors, and Berlin had to give up its status as a free Hanseatic city. In 1539 the electors and the city officially became Lutheran.

17–19th century

The Thirty Years' War between 1618 and 1648 had devastating consequences for Berlin. A third of the houses were damaged, and the city lost half of its population. Frederick William, known as the “Great Elector”, who had succeeded his father George William as ruler in 1640, initiated a policy of promoting immigration and religious toleration. With the Edict of Potsdam in 1685, Frederick William invited the French Huguenots to Brandenburg. More than 15,000 Huguenots came, of whom 6,000 settled in Berlin. Around 1700, approximately twenty percent of Berlin's residents were French, and their cultural influence was great. Many other immigrants came from Bohemia, Poland, and Salzburg.

With the coronation of Frederick I in 1701 as king, Berlin became the capital of the kingdom of Prussia. In 1740 Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great (1740-1786) came to power. Berlin became, under the rule of the philosophically-oriented Frederick II, center of the Enlightenment. The Industrial Revolution transformed Berlin during the 19th century; the city's economy and population expanded dramatically, and it became the main rail hub and economic center of Germany. Additional suburbs soon developed and increased the area and population of Berlin. In 1861, outlying suburbs including Wedding, Moabit, and several others were incorporated into Berlin. In 1871, Berlin became capital of the newly founded German Empire.

20th century

The Berlin Wall in 1986, brightly painted on the western side. Those trying to cross the so-called death strip on the eastern side could be shot.
The Reichstag is the site of the German parliamentAt the end of World War I in 1918, the Weimar Republic was proclaimed in Berlin. In 1920, the Greater Berlin Act united dozens of suburban cities, villages, and estates around Berlin into a greatly expanded city and established Berlin as a separate administrative region. After this expansion, Berlin had a population of around 4 million. 1920s Berlin was an exciting city known for its liberal subcultures, including homosexuals and prostitution, and well known for its fierce political street fights.

The Nazi Party came to power in 1933 and started World War II in 1939. Nazi rule destroyed Berlin's Jewish community, which numbered 170,000 before the Nazis came to power. After the pogrom of Kristallnacht in 1938, thousands of the city's German Jews were imprisoned in the nearby Sachsenhausen concentration camp or, in early 1943, were shipped to death camps such as Auschwitz. During the war, large parts of Berlin were destroyed in the 1943–45 air raids and during the Battle of Berlin. After the end of the war in Europe in 1945, Berlin received large numbers of refugees from the Eastern provinces. The victorious powers divided the city into four sectors, analogous to the occupation zones into which Germany was divided. The sectors of the Western Allies (the United States, United Kingdom, and France) formed West Berlin, while the Soviet sector formed East Berlin.[14]

All four allies retained shared responsibility for Berlin. However, the growing political differences between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union led the latter, which controlled the territory surrounding Berlin, to impose the Berlin Blockade, an economic blockade of West Berlin. The allies successfully overcame the Blockade by airlifting food and other supplies into the city from 24 June 1948 to 11 May 1949.[15] In 1949 the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in West Germany, while the Marxist-Leninist German Democratic Republic was proclaimed in East Germany.

The founding of the two German states increased Cold War tensions. West Berlin was surrounded by East German territory. East Germany, however, proclaimed East Berlin (which it described only as "Berlin") as its capital, a move that was not recognized by the western powers. Although half the size and population of West Berlin, it included most of the historic center. The tensions between east and west culminated in the construction of Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin and other barriers around West Berlin by the East Germany on 13 August 1961 and were exacerbated by a tank standoff at Checkpoint Charlie on 27 October 1961. West Berlin was now de facto a part of West Germany with a unique legal status, while East Berlin was de facto a part of East Germany.

Berlin was completely separated. It was possible for Westerners to pass from one to the other only through strictly controlled checkpoints. For most Easterners, travel to West Berlin or West Germany was no longer possible. In 1971, a Four-Power agreement guaranteed access across East Germany to West Berlin and ended the potential for harassment or closure of the routes.

In 1989 pressure from the East German population brought a transition to democracy in East Germany, and its citizens gained free access across the Berlin Wall, which was mostly demolished. Not much is left of it today; the East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain near the Oberbaumbrücke over the Spree preserves a portion of the Wall. In 1990 the two parts of Germany were reunified as the Federal Republic of Germany, and Berlin became the German capital according to the unification treaty. In 1999 the German parliament and government began their work in Berlin.


The Bundeskanzleramt is the seat of the German chancellorBerlin is the national capital of the Federal Republic of Germany and is the seat of the President of Germany, whose official residence is Schloss Bellevue. Since German reunification on 3 October 1990 it has been one of the three city states, together with Hamburg and Bremen, among the present sixteen states of Germany. The Bundesrat ("federal council") is the representation of the Federal States (Bundesländer) of Germany and has its seat at the former Prussian Herrenhaus (House of Lords). Though most of the ministries are seated in Berlin, some of them, as well as some minor departments, are seated in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany.


Mayor Klaus Wowereit (r.)The city and state parliament is the House of Representatives (Abgeordnetenhaus), which currently has 141 seats. Berlin's executive body is the Senate of Berlin (Senat von Berlin). The Senate of Berlin consists of the Governing Mayor (Regierender Bürgermeister) and up to eight senators holding ministerial positions, one of them holding the official title "Mayor" (Bürgermeister) as deputy to the Governing Mayor. Each of the senators needs the confidence of the Abgeordnetenhaus and each of them can be voted out of office by the house. This happened in 2001, when the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) senators were defeated by a motion of no confidence. The Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) then took control of the city government after the 2001 state election.

The Governing Mayor is simultaneously lord mayor of the city (Oberbürgermeister der Stadt) and prime minister of the federal state (Ministerpräsident des Bundeslandes). The office of Berlin's governing mayor is in the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall). Presently (April 2006), this office is held by Klaus Wowereit of the SPD.[16] The city's government is based on a coalition between the SPD and Die Linke. PDS, a party formed by a merger of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) (the successor to the former East German communist party), which renamed itself in 2005 for cooperation with the Labor and Social Justice Party.

Mainly due to reunification-related expenditures, Berlin as a German state has accumulated more debt than any other city in Germany, with the most current estimate being €60 billion.[17]


Map of Berlin's twelve boroughs and their localitiesBerlin is subdivided into twelve boroughs (Bezirke in German, also sometimes called districts in English), but before Berlin's 2001 administrative reform there were 23. Each borough is subdivided into a number of localities (Stadtteil in German, also sometimes called subdistricts or neighborhoods in English), which represent the traditional urbanized areas that inhabitants identify with. Some of these have been rearranged several times over the years. At present the city of Berlin consists of 96 such localities. The localities often consist of a number of city neighborhoods (usually called Kiez in colloquial German) representing small residential areas.

Each borough is governed by a borough council (Bezirksamt) consisting of ten councilors (Stadträte) and a borough mayor (Bezirksbürgermeister). The borough council is elected by the borough assembly (Bezirksverordnetenversammlung). The boroughs of Berlin are not independent municipalities. The power of borough governments is limited and subordinate to the Senate of Berlin. The borough mayors form the Council of Mayors (Rat der Bürgermeister), led by the city's Governing Mayor, which advises the Senate.

The localities have no government bodies of their own, even though most of the localities have historic roots in older municipalities that predate the formation of Greater Berlin on 1 October 1920. The subsequent position of locality representative (Ortsvorsteher) was discontinued in favor of borough mayors.


Berlin is the sixth-largest urban area in the European Union, and approximately the 80th-largest urban area in the world. As of November 2005, Berlin has 3,396,990 inhabitants[19] in an area of 891.82 square kilometers (344.31 mi²). Thus, the population density of the region amounts to 3,812 inhabitants per square kilometer (9,857/square mile). Berlin residents' average age is 41.9 years (as of 2004) compared to Germany's 42.1 years (as of 2005).[20]

A total of 460,555 residents (12/2005) are of foreign nationality, coming from 185 different countries. The largest groups by nationality are cititzens from Turkey (117,736), Poland (40,787), Serbia & Montenegro (24,757), Russia (14,005), Italy (13,804), United States (12,556), France (11,517), Croatia (11,517), Vietnam (11,298), Greece (10,134).

As of 2005, the largest religious groupings are No religion 60%, Evangelical 23% (757,000), Roman Catholic 9% (312,000), Muslim 6% (213,000), Jewish 0.4% (12,000)[21] .


The ICC and the Berlin FunkturmBefore the reunification of Germany and the two Berlin parts in 1990, the city of West Berlin received substantial subsidies from the West German state to compensate for its geographic isolation from West Germany. Many of those subsidies were phased out after 1990. The reduced financial support for the city and its gradual economic decline have produced fiscal difficulties for Berlin's city government and forced it to cut funding for various programs.[22]

The gross state product of Berlin totaled €79.6 ($95.5 billion) in 2005[23] and compares with €77.4 billion in 1995. Among the 20 largest employers are the railway company Deutsche Bahn AG, the hospital company Charite´, Siemens, the local public transport company BVG, the service provider Dussmann and the Piepenbrock Group. DaimlerChrysler manufactures cars and BMW motorbicycles in Berlin. BayerSchering Pharma and Berlin Chemie are major pharma companies headquartered in the city. The Science and Business Park of Berlin-Adlershof is the expanding model of cooperation between research and economy.[21]

Core and fast-growing sectors are communications, life sciences, mobility and services with information and communication technologies, media and music, advertising and design, biotechnology and environmental services, transportation and medical engineering.[24]. The city of Berlin is among the top five congress cities in the world and is home to Europe's biggest convention center in the form of the Internationales Congress Centrum (ICC).[5] It contributes to the rapidly increasing tourism sector which numbered 14.6 million overnight guests and more than 120 million one-day visitors in 2005, making the city the third most visited city in the European Union.[4]

The Euro / Dollar currency relation is estimated at (€:$ , 1:1.2)


Sony Center and newly built corporate officesBerlin is the home of many television and radio stations, national as well as regional. The public broadcasters RBB and Deutsche Welle TV have their headquarters there as well as the commercial broadcasters N24 and SAT.1. Most national broadcasters have a studio in the city.

Berlin has Germany's largest number of daily newspapers, with three major local broadsheets (Berliner Zeitung, Der Tagesspiegel, and Berliner Morgenpost), and three major tabloids, as well as national dailies of varying sizes, each with a different political affiliation, such as Die Welt, Junge Freiheit, junge Welt, Neues Deutschland, and die Tageszeitung. In addition, several weekly papers publish here, and Berlin has three alternative weeklies focusing on culture and entertainment. The Exberliner, a monthly magazine, is Berlin's only English-language periodical. Berlin is also the headquarters of two major German-language publishing houses: Walter de Gruyter and Springer, each of which publishes books, periodicals, and multimedia products.

Berlin is an important center in the German film industry. It is home to more than one thousand film and television production companies, 270 movie theaters, and around 300 national and international co-productions are filmed in the region every year.[21] Berlin is also home of the European Film Academy and the German Film Academy, and is host of the Berlin Film Festival. In addition, Babelsberg Studios and the important production company UFA are located just outside Berlin in Potsdam.

Berlin is one of Germany's most important centers of higher education and research, with four universities, numerous professional, technical, and private colleges, and a large number of research institutes and thinktanks.

Higher education, research

The Free University of BerlinAround 140,000 students[19] attend the universities and professional or technical colleges. The three largest universities alone account for around 110,000 students. These are the Freie Universität Berlin(Free University of Berlin) with 40,840 students, the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin with 36,423 students, and the Technische Universität Berlin with 31,547 students. The Universität der Künste has about 4,300 students. In addition to these universities, there is a wide range of professional and technical colleges (called Fachhochschulen in German) training students in a wide range of disciplines, from business and management to the arts. Berlin also has a large concentration of research institutions independent of, or only loosely connected to its universities with a total number of 62,000 scientists working in research and development.[21] Together with its universities, these research institutions make Berlin one of the most important centers for research in Europe.

In addition to the libraries affiliated with the various universities, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is a major research library. It has two main locations, one near Potsdamer Platz on Potsdamer Straße and one on Unter den Linden. There are 108 public libraries to be found in the city.

Berlin has 878 schools teaching 340,658 children in 13,727 classes (for 2004/2005) and 56,787 trainees in businesses and elsewhere.[21] The city has a six-year primary education program. After completing primary school, students progress to one of four types of secondary school for six further years: Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium, or Gesamtschule.

Berlin has unique bilingual school program embedded in the 'Europaschule'. Children get taught the curriculum in German and a foreign language starting in grammar school and later in secondary school. Throughout nearly all cityboroughs a range of 9 major European languages in 29 schools can be chosen.[26] One of them the Französisches Gymnasium Berlin, which was founded in 1689 for the benefit of Huguenot refugees, offers (German/French) instruction. Among its former students are Wernher von Braun, Reinhard Mey, and Gesine Schwan.


Alte NationalgalerieBerlin is noted for its numerous cultural institutions, many of which enjoy international reputation. In addition, cultural diversity and tolerance remain from the time when West Berlin took pride in its role as a "free city" with the motto "something for everyone."

Berlin has a rich art scene, and it is home to hundreds of art galleries. The city is host to the Art Forum annual international art fair. Many young Germans and international artists continue to settle in the city, and Berlin has established itself as an important center of youth and popular culture in Europe. Signs of this expanding role were the 2003 announcement that the annual Popkomm, Europe's largest music industry convention, would move to Berlin after 15 years in Cologne. Shortly thereafter, MTV also decided to move its German headquarters and main studios from Munich to Berlin. Universal Music Group opened its European headquarters on the banks of the River Spree in an area known as the mediaspree. Since 2005, Berlin has been listed as a UNESCO City of Design [27].

Nightlife, festivals

Christopher Street Day celebrationsBerlin has one of the most diverse and vibrant nightlife scenes in Europe. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 many buildings in Mitte, the former city center of East Berlin were renovated. Many had not been rebuilt since World War II. Illegally occupied by young people, they became a fertile ground for all sorts of underground and counter-culture gatherings. It is also home to many nightclubs, including Kunst Haus Tacheles, techno clubs Tresor, WMF, Ufo , E-Werk, the infamous Kitkatclub and Berghain.

Former West Berlin was also home to several well-known nightclubs. SO36 in Kreuzberg originally focused largely on punk music but today has become a popular venue for dances and parties of all kinds. SOUND, located from 1971 to 1988 in Tiergarten and today in Charlottenburg, gained notoriety in the late 1970s for its popularity with heroin users and other drug addicts as described in Christiane F.'s book Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo. The Linientreu, near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, has been well known since the 1990s for techno music. The LaBelle discotheque in Friedenau became famous as the location of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing.

Berlin's annual Karneval der Kulturen, a multi-ethnic street parade, and Christopher Street Day celebrations, Central Europe's largest gay-lesbian pride event, are openly supported by the city's government.[28] Berlin is also well known for the techno carnival Love Parade and the cultural festival Berliner Festspiele, which include the jazz festival JazzFest Berlin.

Museums, galleries

Ishtar Gate at Pergamon MuseumBerlin is home to 153 museums.[21] The ensemble on the Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is situated in the northern part of the Spree Island between the Spree and the Kupfergraben.[3] As early as 1841 it was designated a “district dedicated to art and antiquities” by a royal decree. Subsequently, the Altes Museum (Old Museum) in the Lustgarten, and the Neues Museum (New Museum), Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), Pergamon Museum, and Bode Museum were built there. While these buildings once housed distinct collections, the names of the buildings no longer necessarily correspond to the names of the collections they house.

Apart from the Museum Island, there is a wide variety of museums. The Gemäldegalerie (Painting Gallery) focuses on the paintings of the "old masters" from the 13th to the 18th centuries, while the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery, built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) specializes in 20th-century European painting. In spring 2006, the expanded Deutsches Historisches Museum re-opened in the Zeughaus with an overview of German history through the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Bauhaus Archive is an architecture museum. The Jewish Museum has a standing exhibition on 2,000 years of German-Jewish history. The Egyptian Museum of Berlin, across the street from Charlottenburg Palace, is home to one of the world's most important collections of Ancient Egyptian artifacts. The German Museum of Technology in Kreuzberg has a large collection of historical technical artifacts. The Humboldt Museum of Natural History near Berlin Hauptbahnhof has the largest mounted dinosaur in the world, and the best preserved specimen of an archaeopteryx.

Checkpoint CharlieIn Dahlem, there are several museums of world art and culture, such as the Museum of Indian Art, the Museum of East Asian Art, the Ethnological Museum, the Museum of European Cultures, as well as the Allied Museum (a museum of the Cold War), the Brücke Museum (an art museum). In Lichtenberg, on the grounds of the former East German Ministry for State Security (Stasi), is the Stasi Museum.Checkpoint Charlie, remains the site and a museum about one of the crossing points in the Berlin Wall. The museum, which is a private venture, exhibits a comprehensive array of material about people who devised ingenious plans to flee the East. The East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain is an open-air exhibition of art painted directly on one of the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall. The Beate Uhse Erotic Museum near Zoo Station claims to be the world's largest erotic museum.

Theaters, opera houses, music

Berliner PhilharmonieBerlin is home to more than 50 theaters.[21] The Deutsches Theater in Mitte was built in 1849–50 and has operated continuously since then except for a one-year break (1944–45) due to World War II. The Volksbühne on Rosa Luxemburg Platz was built in 1913–14, though the company had been founded already in 1890. The Berliner Ensemble, famous for performing the works of Bertolt Brecht, was established in 1949 not far from the Deutsches Theater. The Schaubühne was founded in 1962 in a building in Kreuzberg, but moved in 1981 to the building of the former Universum Cinema on Kurfürstendamm.

Berlin has three major opera houses: the Deutsche Oper, the Berlin State Opera, and the Komische Oper. The Berlin State Opera on Unter den Linden is the oldest; it opened in 1742. Its current musical director is Daniel Barenboim. The Komische Oper, which has traditionally specialized in operettas, is located not far from the State Opera just off Unter den Linden. It originally opened in 1892 as a theater and has been operating under its current name since 1947. The Deutsche Oper opened in 1912 in Charlottenburg (then still a separate town from Berlin) and is still in the same location, not far from Berlin Zoologischer Garten. During the division of the city from 1961 to 1989 it was the only major opera house in West Berlin.

Haus der Kulturen der WeltThere are two major symphony orchestras in Berlin. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world; it is housed in the Berliner Philharmonie near Potsdamer Platz on a street named for the orchestra's longest-serving conductor, Herbert von Karajan. The current principal conductor is Simon Rattle, who took over in 2002 from Karajan's successor, Claudio Abbado. The Berlin Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1952 as the orchestra for East Berlin, since the Philharmonic was based in West Berlin. Its current principal conductor is Eliahu Inbal.

The Haus der Kulturen der Welt is presenting various exhibitions dealing with intercultural issues and stages world music and conferences.

Zoos, recreation, cemeteries

Greenhouse at the Botanical gardenZoologischer Garten Berlin, the older of the two zoos in the city, was founded in 1844, and presents the most diverse range of species in the world.[29] Tierpark Friedrichsfelde, founded in 1955 in the grounds of Schloss Friedrichsfelde in the Borough of Lichtenberg, is Europe's largest zoo in terms of square meters.

Berlin's botanical gardens include the Botanic Museum Berlin, the largest botanical garden in Europe.

Tiergarten is Berlin's largest park and was designed by Peter Joseph Lenné. In Kreuzberg the Viktoriapark provides a good viewing point over the southern part of inner city Berlin. Treptower Park beside the Spree in Treptow has a monument honoring the Soviet soldiers killed in the 1945 Battle of Berlin. The Volkspark in Friedrichshain, which opened in 1848, is the oldest park in the city. Its summit is man-made and covers a World War II bunker and rubble from the ruins of the city; at its foot is Germany's main memorial to Polish soldiers.

Weißensee Cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe. The writers Micha Josef Berdyczewski and Stefan Heym as well as the philosopher Hermann Cohen are buried there. Städtischer Friedhof III in Friedenau is the final resting place of Marlene Dietrich as well as composer Ferruccio Busoni and photographer Helmut Newton.


Even though Berlin does have a number of impressive buildings from earlier centuries, the city's appearance today is mainly shaped by the key role it played in Germany's history in the 20th century. Each of the national governments based in Berlin—the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, East Germany, and now the reunified Germany—initiated ambitious construction programs, each with its own distinctive character. Berlin was devastated by bombing raids during World War II, and many of the old buildings that escaped the bombs were eradicated in the 1950s and 1960s in both West and East. Much of this destruction was caused by overambitious architecture programs, especially to build new residential or business quarters and main roads. It would not be an exaggeration to say that no other city in the world offers Berlin's unusual mix of architecture, especially 20th-century architecture. The city's tense and unique recent history has left it with a distinctive array of sights.

Architectural styles still sometimes reveal whether one is in the former eastern or western part of the city. In the eastern part, many Plattenbauten can be found, reminders of Eastern Bloc ambitions to create complete residential areas with fixed ratios of shops, kindergartens and schools. Another difference between former east and west is in the design of little red and green men on pedestrian crossing lights (Ampelmännchen in German); the eastern versions received an opt-out during the standardization of road traffic signs after re-unification, and have survived to become a popular icon in tourist products. However, they are by now common in western Berlin too and so can no longer be considered a uniquely East Berlin phenomenon.

Historical sights

The Brandenburg Gate is a world-wide known symbol of Berlin, and nowadays of Germany. It also appears on German euro coins. The Reichstag building is the traditional seat of the German Parliament, renovated in the 1950s after severe World War II damage. The building was again remodeled by Norman Foster in the 1990s and features a glass dome over the session area, which is open to the public and allows parliamentarians to be viewed from above.

Gendarmenmarkt, a neoclassical square in Berlin whose name dates back to the Napoleonic occupation of Berlin, is bordered by two similarly designed cathedrals, the French Cathedral with its observation platform and the German Cathedral. The Concert Hall (Konzerthaus), home of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, stands between the two cathedrals.

The Berliner Dom, a Protestant cathedral and the third church on this site, is located on the Spree Island across from the site of the Berliner Stadtschloss and adjacent to the Lustgarten. A large crypt houses the remains of some of the earlier Prussian royal family. The St.-Hedwigs-Kathedrale is Berlin's Roman Catholic cathedral.

The Nikolaiviertel is the historical core of Berlin. Its church dates from the 13th century. This area was much remodeled during the East German period and although not authentic, has become a busy tourist site. Adjacent to this area is the Das Rote Rathaus and on a previously built-up part of the city, which has now become an open space, is the Neptunbrunnen, a fountain featuring a mythological scene. The fountain has been moved from its earlier location in front of the Palace. This area is now known as Marx-Engels-Platz.

West of the center, Schloss Bellevue is the residence of the German President. Schloss Charlottenburg, which was burnt out in the Second World War and largely destroyed, has been rebuilt and is the largest surviving historical palace in Berlin.

The Siegessaeule  — (Victory Column) monument was built to Prussia's victories and is situated at the Großer Stern in the Tiergarten Park where it was relocated in 1938–39 from its previous position in front of the Reichstag.


The Alexanderplatz Fernsehturm (TV tower) at Alexanderplatz is the highest building in the city at 368 m, and the second largest structure in the EU. The Fernsehturm built in 1969 is easily visible throughout most of the central districts of Berlin. The entire city can be viewed from its 204-m (669 ft) high observation platform. The Rote Rathaus  (Red City Hall) is also situated at Alexanderplatz, with its distinctive red-brick architecture.

The Berliner Funkturm is one of the largest structure of the city and stands close to the Congress and Exhibition center. It has been built in the 1920s Berlin.

The East Side Gallery based on the last parts of the Berlin Wall is the largest still existing evidence of the city's historical division.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche, destroyed in World War II and left in ruins as a reminder of the horrors of war.

Potsdamer Platz, an entire quarter built from scratch after 1995 was not rebuilt as it was divided by the Wall. A must-see for fans of modern city planning. Just to the West of Potsdamer Platz is the Kulturforum, which houses the Gemäldegalerie, and is flanked by the New National Gallery and the Berlin Philharmonic Hall. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe a Holocaust memorial is situated to the north.

The Bierpinsel—literally "Beer Brush" is a 1970s style tower in the Berlin Borough of Steglitz.

The Rathaus Schöneberg, where John F. Kennedy made his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner!" speech is situated in Tempelhof-Schöneberg.

Boulevards, shopping

Unter den Linden is a tree lined east-west avenue from the Brandenburg Gate to the site of the former Berliner Stadtschloss, it was Berlin's premier promenade. Many Classical buildings line the street and a part of Humboldt University is located there. Berlin's legendary street of the Roaring Twenties is the Friedrichstraße, it combines twentieth Century tradition with the modern architecture of today's Berlin.

The area around Hackescher Markt is home to the fashionable culture, with countless clothing outlets, clubs, bars, and galleries. This includes the Hackesche Höfe, a conglomeration of buildings around several courtyards, reconstructed around 1996. Oranienburger Straße and the nearby New Synagogue, has also become "trendy". The area was a center of Jewish culture before 1933.

The Kurfürstendamm is the home of Berlin's luxury stores with the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche at its eastern end on Breitscheidplatz. Near by on Tauentzienstraße is Ka-De-We claimed to be continental Europes largest department store. The Straße des 17. Juni, another East-West avenue connecting the Brandenburg Gate and Ernst-Reuter-Platz, was extensively widened during the Nazi period as part of the East-West-Axis. Its current name commemorates the uprisings in East Berlin of 17 June 1953. Approximately half-way from the Brandenburg Gate is the Großer Stern, a circular traffic island on which the Siegessäule is situated. This used to be the center stage for the Love Parade. The Karl-Marx-Allee, between Mitte and Friedrichshain is a boulevard lined by monumental resident buildings, designed in the Socialist Classicism Style of the Stalin era.


Berlin hosted the 1936 Olympics and was the host city for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Final. The annual Berlin Marathon and the annual Golden League event ISTAF for athletics are also held here. The WTA Tour holds the Qatar Total German Open annually in the city. Founded in 1896, it is one of the oldest tennis tournaments for women. The FIVB World Tour has chosen an inner-city site near Alexanderplatz to present a Beachvolleyball-Grand Slam every year.

Berlin is home to Hertha BSC Berlin, a football team in the Bundesliga, and the basketball team ALBA Berlin (also known as the "Berlin Albatrosses"), which won the national championships every year from 1997 to 2003. Berlin is also home to the American football team Berlin Thunder of NFL Europe as well as the Eisbären Berlin of the German Ice Hockey League, an ice hockey team which was founded in the East German era.


Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the central rail hub of the city As Germany's largest city, and one of the largest cities in Europe, Berlin developed a complex transportation and energy-supply infrastructure before World War II. After the war, West Berlin was cut off from the surrounding territory and had to develop independent infrastructures. Meanwhile, the government of East Germany purposely constructed rail lines and highways that allowed traffic to bypass West Berlin. The political reunification of East and West Berlin has led to the reintegration of Berlin's transportation and energy-supply with the infrastructures of the surrounding region. Crossing 979 bridges, 5334 kilometers of roads run through Berlin, of which 66 kilometers are motorways. In 2004, 1.428 million motor vehicles, including 6800 taxis, were registered in the city.[21]

Public transport, rail

Public transport within Berlin is provided by the S-Bahn (331,5 km net length/ 356,8 mill. passengers in 2005) —operated by S-Bahn Berlin GmbH—and by the U-Bahn (144,2 km/ 456,8 mill.), Straßenbahn (187,7 km/ 171,3 mill.), Bus (1626 km/ 407,1 mill.), and ferries—operated by the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, or BVG.[19] The S-Bahn is a mostly overground urban railway system. The U-Bahn is the city's mainly underground rail, metro or subway system. The Straßenbahn or tram (trolley) system that operates almost exclusively in the eastern part of the city. Buses provide extensive service linking outlying districts with the city center and to the U-Bahn and S-Bahn. Almost all means of public transport—U- & S- Bahn, trams, buses and most ferries—can be accessed with the same ticket. Public transportation in Berlin works on a sort of honor system: There is no need to show or scan one's ticket, except buses. However, plainclothed transit authorities officials frequently conduct random checks in which they board a vehicle and demand that everyone onboard show their ticket. Anyone who does not produce a valid ticket is given a stiff fine.

The inner city is crossed from west to east by the elevated main line (Stadtbahn), which carries S-Bahn trains as well as regional and long-distance trains. This main line passes through most of the city's long-distance and regional train stations, including Berlin-Charlottenburg, Berlin Zoologischer Garten, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Friedrichstraße, Alexanderplatz, and Berlin Ostbahnhof. Along the north-south axis, the U-Bahn 9 line carries the largest passenger volume, supplemented by the north-south line of the S-Bahn. The north-south and east-west lines of the S-Bahn cross at Friedrichstraße.

S-BahnThe last key component of Berlin's rail network is the S-Bahn ring (Ringbahn) that forms a circle around the inner city and crosses the main line at Westkreuz (“west crossing”) and Ostkreuz (“east crossing”). A number of regional and regional express lines connect Berlin with the surrounding region. The city is also served by the freight rail yard at Seddin, south of Potsdam. There are useful online resources for getting around Berlin using public transport, such as the route planner[30] or a map of the current public transport network. Long-distance rail lines connect Berlin with all of the major cities of Germany and with many cities in neighboring European countries. Regional rail lines provide access to the surrounding region of Brandenburg and eastern Germany.


Tegel International Airport is Berlin's busiest airportBerlin has three commercial airports—Tegel International Airport (TXL), Tempelhof International Airport (THF), and Schönefeld International Airport (SXF) serving 155 destinations (07/2006) mostly in Europe. Schönefeld lies just outside Berlin's south-eastern border in the state of Brandenburg, while the other two airports lie within the city. Tempelhof handles only short-distance and commuter flights, and there are plans to close the airport and transfer its traffic to Berlin's other two airports. There are longer-term plans to close Tegel as well. Schönefeld is currently undergoing expansion. Berlin's airport authority aims to transfer all of Berlin's air traffic in 2011 to a greatly expanded airport at Schönefeld, to be renamed Berlin Brandenburg International Airport.[31]

Power supply

During the division of Berlin, the power grid of West Berlin was cut off from the power grid of the surrounding area in East Germany. West Berlin's electricity supply was provided by thermal power stations (Reuter, Wilmersdorf, etc.). To facilitate buffering during load peaks, accumulators were installed during the 1980s at some of these power stations. These were connected by static inverters to the power grid and were loaded during times of low power consumption and unloaded during times of high consumption. In 1993 the power connections to the surrounding areas (previously in East Germany) which had been capped in 1951 were restored. In the western districts of Berlin nearly all power lines are underground cables—only a 380 kV and a 110 kV line, which run from Reuter substation to the urban Autobahn, use overhead lines. The Berlin 380 kV electric line was constructed when West Berlin's electrical system was a totally independent system and not connected to those of East or West Germany. This has now become the backbone of the whole city's power system.

Berlin's power supply is mainly, although not exclusively, provided by the Swedish firm Vattenfall. The company has come under criticism for relying more heavily than other electricity producers in Germany on lignite (brown coal) as an energy source, because burning lignite produces harmful emissions. However, Vattenfall has announced a commitment to shift towards reliance on cleaner, renewable energy sources.

Quotations featuring Berlin
"Ich bin ein Berliner."
(John F. Kennedy, President of the USA, 1963 while visiting Berlin)

"Berlin ist arm, aber sexy." ("Berlin is poor, but sexy.")
(Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor, in a television interview, 2004)

"Ihr Völker der Welt ... schaut auf diese Stadt!" ("Peoples of the world ... look at this city!")
(Ernst Reuter, Governing Mayor, during the Berlin blockade, 1948)

"Ich hab noch einen Koffer in Berlin" ("I still keep a suitcase in Berlin")
(Marlene Dietrich, actress and singer born 1901 in Berlin-Schöneberg)

"“Berlin ist eine Stadt, verdammt dazu, ewig zu werden, niemals zu sein” ("Berlin is a city condemned forever to becoming and never being.")
(Karl Scheffler, author of Berlin: Ein Stadtschicksal, 1910)

“Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well, Berlin.”
(Hiroshi Motomura, US Law professor, 2004)

Gross, Leonard, The Last Jews in Berlin. Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1999. ISBN 0-7867-0687-2
Tertius Chandler, Four Thousand Years of Urban Growth: An Historical Census. Edwin Mellen Pr, 1987. ISBN 0-88946-207-0
Ribbe, Wolfgang, Geschichte Berlins. Bwv - Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag, 2002. ISBN 3-8305-0166-8
Gwertzman, M. Kaufman, The Collapse of Communism, 1990.
Read, Anthony, and David Fisher, Berlin Rising: Biography of a City. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994. ISBN 0-393-03606-5
Large, David Clay, Berlin. New York: Basic Books, 2001. ISBN 0-465-02632-X

36 Hours
Oliver Hartung for The New York Times
Roses, a lounge that stays open till 5 a.m.

Published: December 10, 2006
BERLIN is like New York City in the 1980s. Rents are cheap, graffiti is everywhere and the air crackles with a creativity that comes only from a city in transition. And few cities are changing as profoundly. Nearly two decades after the Berlin Wall tumbled down, the city’s two sides are still locked in a kind of cultural dialectic, as the center of gravity shifts to the once desolate boroughs of the East. Bullet-scarred buildings are metamorphosing from squatters’ homes, to artists’ studios, and then to retail showrooms. Gray Communist alleys are laboratories for trendy bars, restaurants and galleries. And, like the city itself, Berliners continue to reinvent themselves as cultural vanguards, pushing the boundaries of art, fashion and design. With so much to explore and create, the city never sleeps.

3 p.m.

Berlin is a big city, about eight times the area of Paris, so get your bearings. Follow the tourists to the Television Tower, the Sputnik-like needle in Alexanderplatz (; 8 euro admission, about $11 at $1.36 to the euro). Or, for more intimate views, head to the Reichstag. Skip the hourlong line by making reservations for afternoon tea at the Dachgartenrestaurant, or roof garden restaurant (49-30-22-62-99-0; Afterward, you’re free to loop around the glass igloo.

5:30 p.m.

Sightseeing mainstays like the triumphant Brandenburg Gate, the crystalline Potsdamer Platz ( and the sobering Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe ( are within an easy stroll. But don’t miss the Hauptbahnhof ( Opened in May, the glass-and-steel spaceship is the Grand Central Terminal of Europe, a great place to watch daily life unfold.

9 p.m.

Forget Bratwurst. For lighter versions of Teutonic cuisine, try Schneeweiss, a nouvelle German restaurant in the Friedrichshain district, Berlin’s equivalent of the Lower East Side (Simplonstrasse 16, 49-30-290-497-04; Dishes like grilled trout in a red wine sauce and pork ragout in a red berry coulis are served in a sparse, candlelit room that draws young couples and trend-conscious diners. Entrees rarely exceed 12 euros.

11 p.m.

Stay in Friedrichshain. The smoke-filled cafes around Simon-Dach-Strasse are full of young Berliners priced out of the central Mitte district; beers are usually under 2.50 euros. Later, cross the Spree River into the borough of Kreuzberg, the former punk quarter and Turkish enclave that is experiencing a Williamsburg-style revival. The bars and clubs along Oranienstrasse offer something for everyone. For rollicking music, strut to S036 and hear live bands like Napalm Death (No. 190; 49-30-414-013-06; Or, for drag queens and plastic Virgin Marys, sashay a few doors down to Roses, a kitschy lounge that sparkles until 5 a.m. (No. 187; 49-30-615-65-70). The night is still young, so pick up a copy of Zitty (, a biweekly arts magazine, or Exberliner (, an English-language monthly, for the club of the moment.



O.K., you’re still asleep. But when you do wake up, you’ll need some fuel before hitting the much-hyped art scene in the Mitte district. Do both at Monsieur Vuong (Alte Schönhauser Strasse 46; 49-30-3087-2643;, a Vietnamese restaurant that serves as a kind of high school cafeteria for the neighborhood’s galleries. A spicy bowl of glass noodles with chicken is 6.40 euros. Then hop over to Auguststrasse, Mitte’s Art Mile, where the buzz originated at places like Galerie Eigen+Art (No. 26; 49-30-280-66-05; and Kunst-Werke Berlin, the city’s answer to New York’s P.S. 1. (No. 69; 49-30-243-45-90; Like SoHo in its pre-mall days, the galleries can afford to be refreshingly uneven and irreverent. And new ones open every month. Goff+Rosenthal (Brunnenstrasse 3; 49-30- 4373-50-83;, an offshoot of a Chelsea gallery in New York, opened three months ago and showcases emerging artists from Berlin and elsewhere. For a handy gallery map, pick up the free Index ( ).

3 p.m.

I shop, therefore I am. While global brands like American Apparel and Diesel have recently colonized Mitte, low rents mean that concept stores, micro-boutiques and street-wear designers are still around, blurring the line between gallery and galleria. Comme des Garçons opened one of its clandestine temporary stores in a hard-to-find alley (Brunnenstrasse 152; 49-30-280-45-338; Über is a retail chameleon, so it might sell handbags one month and garden crows the next (Auguststrasse 26A; 49-30-6677-90-95; And the Apartment looks like an empty white box, until you descend into the dark cellar crammed with fashion labels like Bernhard Willhelm and Caviar Gauche (Memhardstrasse 8; 49-30-2804-2253; How does anyone in this underemployed city afford 300-euro shirts?

7 p.m.

Ponder that question at one of the groovy beach bars that have washed up along the Spree. There’s the U.F.O.-themed Space Bar in Friedrichshain, behind the longest extant section of the Berlin Wall (Mühlenstrasse 63; 49-30-4606-84-91; The BundesPresseStrand has two pools and a glass pavilion near the Reichstag (Kapelleufer 1; But the favorite of the skinny jeans and fauxhawk set is Badeschiff, just east of gritty Kreuzberg (Eichenstrasse 4; 49-030-533-20-30; During the winter, its swimming pool, on a barge, is cocooned under a bubble tent and turned into a floating sauna.

9 p.m.

In another sign of Berlin’s ascension, the city now boasts 10 Michelin-starred restaurants, 4 of them in the former German Democratic Republic. But as in Paris and Hong Kong, good food is not confined to white-tablecloth establishments. Take Altes Europa, a smoky tavern in Mitte (Gipsstrasse 11; 49-30-2809-38-40; For around 15 euros, you get Old World ambience, a smart-looking crowd and bistro-quality fare like plump green salads, velvety soups and tender steaks. A neighborhood gem, to be sure, and one that isn’t rare.

11 p.m.

Few streets have mutated as much as Oranienburger Strasse, the spine of Mitte. A squatters’ row as recently as the late 1990s, the street is now littered with bars and tourist traps that recall Bleecker Street on amateur nights. For a glimpse of Berlin’s quickly fading underbelly, grab a beer at the Tacheles art house (No. 54-56A; 49-30-282-61-85;, the ruins of a former department store that feels like the inside of CBGB’s legendary bathroom. Then flee to White Trash, a cabaret and tat- too parlor that resurrects the Weimar Republic inside a gaudy Chinese-Irish restaurant (Schönhauser Allee 6-7; Packed with out-of-work artists, punks rockers and assorted freaks, it’s fringe Berlin at its finest.

3:30 a.m.

Maybe it’s the hypnotic techno, hedonistic frisson or illicit party favors, but globe-trotting clubbers rave about Berghain, a huge disco in a weedy stretch behind the Ostbahnhof station in Friedrichshain (; admission 12 euros). How else to explain the 45-minute wait at this ungodly hour? According to its detailed Wikipedia citation, “Berghain is best-known for its decadent, bacchanalian, sexually uninhibited parties which often continue into the following afternoon” And some stay even longer.

1 p.m.

Need a break from the über-hipsters and existential banter? The huge and green Tiergarten — Berlin’s central park — is an urban oasis popular with joggers, bird-watchers and nude sunbathers alike. To shake off last night, take a long stroll through this swampy former hunting ground. Drop in on the pandas and penguins at the Zoological Garden and Aquarium (Hardenbergplatz 8; 49-30-254-010; Or grab an outdoor seat at Cafe Am Neuen See, a calming beer garden and restaurant that sits on the edge of a lake (Lichtensteinallee; 49-30-2544-93-00). It is your quiet time in Berlin.

3 p.m.

Despite the lousy exchange rate, you’ll be surprised by how many euros you have left. Use them along Strasse des 17. Juni, the park’s main transverse, which turns into Berlin’s oldest (and priciest) flea market on weekends. Forage for early-20th-century antiques, used books and a jumble of odds and ends. Alternately, for some East Village flair, make a beeline for the Sunday flea market at Boxhagener Platz. It’s crammed with funky T-shirts, vintage Kraftwerk vinyl, plastic housewares and plenty of genuine junk. Don’t forget your camera: the crowd trends toward purple-dyed punks, nose-pierced vamps, dreadlocked crusties and, everyone’s favorite, aging hippies. In other words, it’s the 80s all over again, but with even more kitsch.

The Basics

Continental Airlines flies nonstop to Berlin from Newark, and Delta flies nonstop from Kennedy. Flights start at about $400 this month and take about eight hours on the outbound leg. Berlin’s tiny Tegel airport is five miles from the city center. The 20-minute taxi ride costs about 20 euros ($27 at $1.36 to the euro).

Sleep in grand style at the Hotel de Rome, the latest from the luxury hotelier Rocco Forte (Behrenstrasse 37;49-30-460-60-90; Opened in October, it occupies a former bank in Mitte, just off Unter den Linden. The 146 rooms are spacious, furnished in Art-Deco and neo-Classic styles, and start at 380 euros a night.

For modern style at a moderate price, check into Lux 11 (Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 9-13; 49-30-936-2800; With rooms starting at 99 euros, the boutique hotel keeps costs down by eschewing daily maid service and 24-hour attention, and focusing on what matters to its fashionable guests: sleek design.

If that’s outside your budget, try the nearby Circus Hostel (Weinbergsweg 1A; 49-30-2839-14-33; Clean, friendly and efficient, the hostel has private rooms with baths starting at 62 euros for a double; dormitory-style bunks start at 17 euros.


Affordable Europe: Berlin
Oliver Hartung for The New York
In Berlin, the Holocaust Memorial can be part of a walking tour that roughly traces where the Berlin Wall once stood.

Published: April 23, 2006
This summer may not be the best time to visit Germany if you're looking for a cheap vacation — not with the World Cup coming this year. But if you avoid Berlin for most of June and July, especially the weekend of July 9 when it will be the host of the final, you might be able to score some bargains.

Imbiss is German for snack bar, and Berlin is well endowed with them, including plenty where a meal will run you less than 8 euros ($9.92 at $1.24 to the euro). A typical imbiss offers roasted sausages, including the popular currywurst, a sort of Eurasian blend dowsed in ketchup that's laced with curry powder. A popular place is Bier's Mini 7, near the Zoologischer Garten train station at Kantstrasse 7. You can have your wurst with a roll or French fries (called pommes frites in German, as in French, but pronounced POMM-mess FREET-ess), coffee, cola or mineral water, for about 4 or 5 euros.

Lodging for Under 100 Euros

The Art'otel (Lietzenburgerstrasse 85; 49-30-887-7770; has a central location in what was West Berlin. Officially, the prices run about 120 euros a night for a single and 130 euros for a double. But calling the reservations office directly will usually get you a double for just under 88 euros on most nights. The hotel is minimalist-modern with a collection of original works by Andy Warhol.
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Best Deal on a Cultural Event

The Tipi Zelt am Kanzleramt is in the Grosse Querallee — the same area where at the turn of the 20th century Germans went to be entertained. Near Germany's modern chancellor's office, Tipi, which means tepee in German, is a very large tent that offers cabaret, dance, acrobatics and musical comedy — as well as dinner and drinks. Tickets range from 8 euros on Mondays up to 40 euros. Information about specific programs and tickets are available at 49-180-327-9358 or online at
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Best Things to Do Free

Take a walk from Checkpoint Charlie, the only spot where diplomats and Americans could cross the divided city during the cold war, to the almost completed new Hauptbahnhof, or main train station, following roughly the route of the old Berlin Wall and through a landscape that was at the center of the tragic 20th century. Starting at Checkpoint Charlie, roughly where Friedrichstrasse intersects with Kochstrasse, make your way (it won't be hard with a simple Berlin map) to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, the Brandenburg Gate and then the Reichstag. From there make your way around to the ultramodern parliamentary office building. Straight ahead, you'll see Europe's newest and most modern transportation hub, scheduled to open in time for the World Cup.
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Best Money-Saving Tip

Buy passes on the Berlin transit system for inexpensive unlimited access to all buses and trains. You can get passes for one day or one week or even one month, or you can get a Berlin WelcomeCard, which includes either a 48- or 72-hour transit pass for Berlin and nearby suburbs like Potsdam as well as coupons for discounts at museums, restaurants and even fitness centers. The regular passes and WelcomeCards are available at most train platforms. A 48-hour WelcomeCard, good for travel by one adult and three children younger than 14, is 16 euros.    the architecture you must see