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The best things to do in Berlin

The best things to do in Berlin

Berlin blends grit and glamour like no other city, its richly textured history and radical edge sitting side by side in singular style.

November 2019 marked 30 years since the Peaceful Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall, when East Germany's quiet revolution of 1989 paved the way for Berlin to emerge as the capital of a newly unified Germany. Today, Berlin's complex history is visible is its monuments, museums and cultural scene, where cult and classical live side by side. Here are some of the best places to visit in Berlin to see its historical highlights.

The Berlin Wall Memorial

The Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer) stretches 1.4km along Bernauer Strasse, where the Wall divided East from West Berlin. The memorial stands as a reminder of Germany’s historic division and the countless lives affected by this physical and ideological rift. Visitors can walk or cycle along the memorial, making sure to stop off at the Window of Remembrance, the Chapel of Reconciliation, and the many exhibition stations recalling the history of the Wall along the way.

Brandenburg Gate

The Gate’s location meant it stood directly between East and West Berlin and became part of the infamous Wall. In 1987, it was outside the Brandenburg Gate that Ronald Reagan gave his speech, urging Gorbachev to “Tear down this Wall.” When the Wall finally fell in 1989, the Gate reopened and became a standing symbol of a new, healed Germany. 

East Side Gallery

The transformative power of art is seen in bright, bold colours on remnants of the Berlin Wall. The grey, imposing wall that once divided the city has been reborn as the world’s longest open-air East Side gallery, where dozens of artists from all over the world have translated their artistic visions into murals featuring political statements and thought-provoking messages. Of all the things to do in Berlin, this is certainly a must. 

Gethsemane Church

The Romanesque Gethsemanekirche was a hub of dissent in the last days of the GDR (the communist-controlled German Democratic Republic) and was where peaceful protesters gathered on the night of 2 October 1989 to stand against the arrest of peaceful demonstrators in Leipzig. 

The Berlin TV Tower

The Fernsehturm (TV Tower) is Berlin’s most visible landmark, standing 368m tall in the city’s famous Alexanderplatz. Inaugurated in 1969, the tower was designed by East German architects and was meant to symbolise the strength and innovation of the socialist system. Today it is one of Berlin’s most recognisable buildings and is popular with tourists thanks to its 360-degree viewing point at its top.

Stasi Museum 

To the east of Berlin’s city centre lies the former headquarters of East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi. The headquarters are now a museum, where visitors can see the the now somewhat outdated low-tech spy equipment, like cameras and bugs hidden in neckties and watering cans, as well as the office of Stasi chief Erich Mielke. 

If you enjoyed reading this blog, you may enjoy our articles on visiting the Black Forest by train and Rhine Valley rail trip 

Image credits top to bottom: Berlin Wall graffiti iStock ©franckreporter, Brandenburg Gate iStock ©Nikada, Berlin skyline panorama with TV Tower iStock ©bluejayphoto

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