Best Things To Do in Berlin
Berlin's history of battling ideologies makes for some of the most fascinating sightseeing in Europe. Explore the remnants of the Berlin Wall, the glorious dome atop the Reichstag (Parliament Building) or the peaceful greenery in Tiergarten. You can also take a walking or bicycle tour and marvel at the vast historical, architectural and natural sights. If you enjoy UNESCO World Heritage sites, don't miss Museum Island.
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The Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors) museum sits on the site of the Gestapo and SS Police's former headquarters during World War II. By walking the grounds and touring the documentation center, travelers can learn about the atrocities committed by those German officers that once worked at this very site.
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Inspired by the Acropolis entrance in Athens, the Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) is one of the most-photographed sites in Berlin. Located in Pariser Platz, one of the city's most famous squares, the Brandenburg Gate was built for King Frederick Wilhelm II starting in 1788.
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Museumsinsel (or Museum Island) is the name given to a clump of five museums, the Baroque-style Berliner Dom cathedral and large gardens clustered on a tiny island in the River Spree. Built between 1830 and 1930, each museum presents a different aspect of German history and art.
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Located in the center of Berlin, the Berlin Wall Memorial stretches for a little less a mile along what was once the border that divided the city in two. Upon arriving at the memorial, you can stop into the visitor center to watch a short film on the history of the Berlin Wall, as well as explore a handful of other exhibits. There is also a bookstore on-site.
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A symbol of Germany's past, present and future, the Reichstag or Parliament Building is a mesh of different architecture ranging from the late 20th to late 21st centuries. It symbolizes the country's path from a dark past to a brighter future.
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The Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (which translates to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or, more simply, Berlin's Holocaust Memorial) consists of a grid of 2,711 concrete blocks made to memorialize the 6 million Jewish victims of the Third Reich. Some blocks stand as tall as 15 feet.
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The expansive Tiergarten sprawls 519 acres from central Berlin westward and attracts visitors looking for respite from the city's clamor. The name of the park translates to "Animal Garden," as it served as a hunting ground for select Germans during the late 17th century.
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The Pergamonmuseum, located on Museumsinsel (Museum Island) on the River Spree, is one of travelers' favorite museums. Recent guests used words like "remarkable" and "jaw-dropping" to describe the museum, which was completed in 1930 and houses many works that are important to the development of ancient art and architecture. Filled with an impressive collection of Greek, Roman, East Asian and Islamic art, exhibits include pieces like the reconstructed Ishtar Gate and the Pergamon Altar – a massive monumental Greek temple that is believed to date back to 180 B.C.
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The East Side Gallery refers to the longest intact section of the Berlin Wall, which stretches nearly a mile. If you want to experience the wall for the first time, this is the place to do it. After the Berlin Wall's fall (say that 10 times fast) in 1989, dozens of international artists congregated here and created paintings depicting the world's joyous and optimistic reactions to the end of the Cold War era.
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Pre-World War II, Potsdamer Platz was Berlin's main plaza – and a bustling one, at that – but the ensuing wars left it ravaged. After the Berlin Wall fell and the Cold War ended, companies like Sony and Daimler moved in and built their headquarters on the square, thus revitalizing the area.
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Zoos are frequently top attractions for families, and Zoo Berlin (or Zoologischer Garten Berlin) is no different. Nearly 20,000 animals – including giant pandas, hippos and polar bears – live here, nestled in the southwestern curve of the Tiergarten.
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Many say a visit to the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing should not come without a visit to the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie or the Checkpoint Charlie Museum.
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For the ever-popular panorama of the city, the Berliner Fernsehturm (TV Tower) is a great place to go. As the tallest structure in Germany (standing at more than 650 feet), it's guaranteed to provide quite the view. Visitors can take one of two elevators to the top. If the 40-second trip makes you hungry, stop by the rotating Sphere Restaurant or Bar 203 for some light refreshments.
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Beginning its life as a summer home for the royal family in the late 17th century, Schloss Charlottenburg became a lavish palace after Frederick the Great commissioned some 18th-century upgrades and additions. Now the complex can take more than a day to tour from top to bottom.
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