The Pulse and History of the City
As Germany’s biggest city and an absolute cultural melting pot, Berlin is never quiet. It pulses with an energy all its own, day and night, with offerings musical, theatrical, gastronomical, and historical. Many flock to Berlin for the party scene; the city is famous for its all night underground dance parties. Some go for the shopping, others for a weekend of catching shows; Berlin is home to over 50 theatres.
Many more people go for the history. They want to see the remnants of the wall that split the city during the latter half of the 20th century, the Brandenburg Gate, or the old Reichstag. With so many significant sites to be seen, tour possibilities abound in Berlin, from walking tours to boat tours to your classic bus tours. As counterpoints to the touristy options, some smaller tour companies have been popping up that embrace slow travel and allow visitors a greater depth of insight into one of Europe’s most important cities and its rich, varied cultural scenes.
Finding Paradise in Berlin’s Museums
But no matter how many times I return to Berlin, I find myself drawn to its museums. For history lovers, Germany is hard to beat. For museum lovers, Berlin is a paradise. It is even home to an island of museums, the aptly named and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Museum Island. On Museum Island you will find the Old National Gallery, The Old Museum, The New Museum, The Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum. The Pergamon Museum, completed in 1930, is the most visited in Germany.
While a fair share of Berlin’s approximate 148 museums are dedicated to aspects of history not related to the city, for me the ones that do focus on Germany and Berlin itself are the most compelling. There is nothing like immersing yourself in the history of the very place you are in. The permanent and free exhibition, Topography of Terror, built on the site of the former Secret State Police office is unmissable. So is the Berlin Wall Documentation Centre, which recounts the some forty years of a divided Berlin, and its ultimate reunification. Add to your list the Jewish Museum, the development of which has its own interesting and winding history.
With so much of modern day Berlin tied up in its 20th century history, it is easy to overlook how it thrived as an exciting, cultural hotspot pre-WWII. Charlottenburg Palace, commissioned at the end of the 1600s, is a beautiful glimpse into a Berlin from centuries gone by. You’ll be ready for a coffee by the time you’ve covered even a fraction of Berlin’s museums, galleries and exhibitions. So go and regroup with one of the city’s best brews – you’ve only got about 140 more stops on your list.
About this Erudite
Liv Hambrett is an Australian writer currently living in the far north German city of Kiel. For the past few years, as a combined result of travel lust and human love, she have lurched around Germany and spent an unreasonable amount of time on the island of Santorini.