With its dramatic and controversial fate, the capital of Germany is rich in attractions, historical monuments, and surprising discoveries. Take a look at our list of top 8 must-see attractions in Berlin stroll through linden alleys, or jump on a bus number 100 together with the busy locals, stopping for a discovery here and there.
1. Berliner Mauer
Although this is a city of incredible architecture, events, museums, and galleries, The Berlin Wall is, perhaps, the first thing that pops up in your mind when you think about Berlin. A concrete wall with barbed fire on top was 3 meters tall and 160 meters long was a border between two parts of Germany, GDR and FRG, that split families and friends for almost 30 years. Truly, the fall of the Wall in autumn of 1989 and the reunion of families, the city, and the whole country was an event people spoke about in every corner of the planet. In mere hours the locals destroyed the Wall stone after stone; some of the fragments were sold to private collections for huge money, and the local artists painted the remains of the Wall, creating a vivid open-air gallery. Although many Berliners cannot recall where the Wall exactly was with certainty, no wonder the ruins of this unique historical object are still one the most popular tourist attractions in Berlin and are truly a symbol of freedom, union, and invincibility. Today, you can see reconstructed fragments of the Wall along Bernauer Straße, Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer; sadly, this was an exact place where Berliners most often tried to cross the border illegally and were shot by the guards. The eastern part of the Wall, East Side Gallery, is world's longest open-air gallery; it presents 101 unique wall paintings.
Built in 1894 on Republic Square, Reichstag is Berlin's gorgeous house of parliament with quite a history. After the mysterious fire of 1933, it became a symbol of fascist government. Later it was almost completely ruined during the war by the Soviet army, and it became a symbol of victory over fascism instead with a red flag over its roof and graffiti on the walls, some of which you can still find nowadays. Full renovation started only in 1961, and Reichstag was not used as a parliament house until 1990. A few years later, a talented architect Norman Forster managed to reconstruct its legendary glass dome. Now you can climb there to the observation deck for free if you sign up in advance. You can also book a table in a posh restaurant Käfer next to the dome to enjoy fine cuisine and no less than a breathtaking view over Berlin.
3. Berlin's Museumsinsel
Berlin's Museum Island is a unique ensemble of five most famous museums, located on an actual island, Spreeinsel, in Spree: Old Museum, New Museum, Old National Gallery, Bode Museum, and Pergamon Museum. Its rich history started in 1797 when Prussian emperor Wilhelm II approved of the idea to create a museum for antique collections on Spreeinsel. Until nowadays, the museums on the island are home for one of the most authentic and rare pieces of antique, Renaissance and modern art. The locals even call the bridge that connects the island with the banks “the bridge to the past.” Note that exploring the mysteries of the past on this treasure island will most definitely take more than you expect – plan at least a day for that.
4. Brandenburger Tor
You are going to see Brandenburger Tor even before you actually visit Brandenburger Tor – the minute you take a subway train in Berlin, you will recognize the legendary shapes on each and every window. Inspired by Athens's Acropolis and built in 1791, “The Gates of Peace” are decorated with a statue of an Ancient Greek goddess of peace Irene on a chariot with four horses. Napoleon Bonaparte liked the composition so much that he took it with him to Paris in 1806 after conquering Berlin. Eight years later the sculpture was won back and brought to its place; however, after that Irene changed her name to Victoria, after the goddess of victory, and an olive branch in her hands was replaced with a cross. Brandenburger Tor was heavily reconstructed after the World War II and now are the only gates to Berlin left of eighteen.
The largest Protestant church in Germany, Dom attracts visitors with its impressive architecture, elegant sculptures and columns, and vividly embellished interior. Of course, there is a viewpoint under the dome from where you can enjoy a fantastic view over Berlin's city center.
6. Berlin Fernsehturm
40 seconds on a high-speed elevator or almost thousand steps, and you are on top of the tallest building in whole Germany. Of course, we are talking about the famous Berlin TV Tower – just like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the top of it is the only place in Berlin where you cannot see the tower itself.
The bird's eye view over Berlin is going to blow your mind, and lines of hundreds of tourists all day long can only prove that. Our advice: to enjoy the view peacefully, come here the morning for a cup of coffee.
7. Schloss Charlottenburg
Charlottenburg Palace, once Frederick the Great's generous gift to his wife Sophie Charlotte and then a beloved summer residence with a gorgeous park, is considered one of the greatest baroque monuments in Germany. Almost ruined during the World War II, the castle was planned to be entirely demolished if it was not for its director of the time who saved it at the last moment and initiated a reconstruction that lasted a few decades. The castle along with the fine arts gallery and the park are now one of the most visited spots both by the locals and the travelers.
8. Tiergarten and Treptow Park
Walking in lush Berlin's parks is a particular delight. Once you enjoyed the shadow of the alleys in central Tiergarten, go southeast to Treptow Park to visit the famous memorial to Soviet soldiers. In the center of the memorial field stands a bronze sculpture of a soldier with a saved girl in his arms, and you will not stay indifferent by the park's remarkable composition.