so as I said, I will try to make a thread with pictures from Berlin. I think I will try to post one picture ever day (I will probably keep forgetting though, so please remind me)...
I will start out with various views of the Brandenburg gate (I do have a lot of those) - after all, it is the symbol of Berlin.
Built from 1788 to 1791, it used to be the city gate on the route out to Brandenburg, hence the name. Later of course Berlin grew, and it was right inside the city. It ended up being right at the border between East and West Berlin, so after the wall was built, it was off-limits to people - thus the fact that you could go through it again was a big symbol for the fall of the wall, and the Brandenburg gate is now seen as a symbol of reunited Berlin.
You bet we will remind you to post, at least I will. On December 9, 1989, I drove from Paris with my friend Ali, because we needed to see the gradual destruction of the wall (you have seen the thread here, I think).
It was almost 1000 km from Paris and we arrived maybe around 3 or 4 am. I parked right in front of the Brandenburg Gate, where where slept in the car until morning. (It was fucking cold, and about every 20 minutes I would wake up and start the motor of the car for about 3 minutes to get the heat working again.) The next day, among our activities, we visited the department store at Alexanderplatz and bought full sized East German flags (I still have mine) as well as incredibly cheap little notebooks and also some postcards. The strangest element of our purchases was that the woman selling the postcards could not understand that we wanted to actually choose the postcards instead of accepting the random selection that she wanted to give us.
These days the area around the Brandenburg gate is of course one of the main tourist areas, with horse carriages, dressed up people to take photos with, a lot of walking tour groups meeting up and all that. I must admit, it is a bit exhausting to pass the area whenever i have to cycle right through it...
Has the Brandenburg gate been cleaned or renovated since 1989? I am very sorry to say that I have not seen it since then, as much as I have wanted to return to Berlin over the years. It did seem a bit more drab when I was there, and of course there was that ugly wall behind it. But your brilliantly illuminated pictures make it clear that changes have been made.
Not far from the Brandenburg gate is the Reichstag, the Parliament building.
The Reichstag is one of the most visited sights in Berlin. It was built in the late 19th century and housed first the parliament of the Kaiserreich and then that of the Weimar republic.
In 1933, shortly after Hitler became Reichskanzler, fire was put to the building. While it was never cleared up who caused that fire, the Nazis took it as an excuse to attack their political opponents and push through laws that for example allowed the death penalty for what they saw as "high treason".
This view is taken from near the Brandenburg gate. After the war the building was a ruin, and in 1954 the dome on top of it was demolished, supposedly because it was in danger of falling down. Shortly after, however, it was decided to reconstruct the building - though at first it was unclear what it would be used for. The wall went by right at the East of the building, but for people from West Berlin there was a museum opened inside.
lagatta - you should come to berlin one day... i could give you a sight seeing tour...
nycgirl - thanks!
The glass dome on top of the building now is one of Berlin's most popular tourist attractions, visited by about 8000 people per day. It is 38 meters wide and 23 meters tall. It is not only a visual attraction and viewpoint over the town, but part of the energy-efficient concept of the building: It is giving light and ventilation to the assembly room.
View over the Großer Tiergarten Park from the Reichstag. The second largest park area in Berlin (with 210 hectar). A big street runs right through it: The Street of the 17th of July, in which there is the Siegessäule (victory column).
The tower in the picture belongs to the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (house of the cultures of the world). It is a Glockenspiel (carillon)...
first mention is 1248 i think. berlin originally grew from the villages cölln and berlin, situated on an island on the spree river and north of the spree river. they were probably founded in the late 12th century, as a settlement of fishermen (in the case of cölln) and merchants (in the case of berlin), as the place was an important crossing of the river for some east/west trade routes... it is estimated that they got the town priviledge around 1230, which is probably around the time the st. nicholas church (will post pictures of that later on) was built in its oldest form... the oldest document mentioning berlin actually mentions cölln, berlin was first mentioned a few years later... i think the two towns united sometime in the 14th century, and later of course the incorporated more and more of the surrounding areas and villages...
Not far from the Brandenburg gate and the Reichstag, down on the way to Potsdamer Platz, there is the Holocaust memorial. The official name is Denkmahl für die ermordeten Juden Europas (Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe). It consists of 2711 concrete slaps of stelae, of different heights but in an exact pattern (I mean, in exact rows). Some are really tall, especially towards the middle, others are smaller, and there is space to walk between them.
Just quoting from Wikipedia this time (too lazy to write my own text): "According to Eisenman's project text, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. A 2005 copy of the Foundation for the Memorial's official English tourist pamphlet, however, states that the design represents a radical approach to the traditional concept of a memorial, partly because Eisenman did not use any symbolism."
Actually, I very much dislike that memorial, which strikes me as a very totalitarian kind of monument with its huge, dehumanizing scale and lack of evocation of individual human beings murdered in genocide.
Though the "supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason" does allude to the specifically German characteristics that made that genocide so particularly effective and murderous... I mean the accent on being methodical and precise, and I know quite a few Gernans and Austrians the Nazis would have killed for political and/or "racial" reasons who share in those values!
That is a most reasonable price for bicycle hire, as I'd like to think I could hire it for the day and be able to go to parks or a café as well as just sightsee. I have fantasies about buying a good folding bicycle, like a Brompton, but they are very expensive.