Mitte means center in German, and that is the best definition for this Berlin neighborhood. In the mitte are the most representative monuments, museums and buildings of the German capital. Alexanderplatz was the center of the former communist berlin and today remains one of the busiest spaces in the city. Cross the bridges over the Spree River and reach the island of museums and later you will come across the famous Brandenburg Gate. In the middle you will find an endless church, museums and sites that are certainly worth visiting, if you want to know its secrets, stories and curiosities we recommend you to do one of the Free Tour that runs through the mitte.
If you liked Berlin at ground level, imagine knowing it from 203 meters high from the viewpoint of the television tower. The tower was built in 1969 by the extinct German Democratic Republic (GDR) and soon became a symbol of ancient East Berlin. This is the tallest structure in Berlin and the entire European union as well. Entering it is immersing ourselves in a trip to the futuristic architecture of the 60s. In addition to its viewpoint, the tower has an elegant restaurant and revolving bar, which allows us to have the best view of the city while having our favorite drink.
The Reichstag building is a symbol of the young German unified and climbing to its dome is undoubtedly one of the best plan to know its rich history, as well as that of Berlin itself. Built in the times of the Second German Empire, the Reichstag was badly damaged in a self-attack in the 30s, then in the Second World War it was the scene of the most cruel fighting, almost in ruins. In the following years it was rebuilt, but due to the division of the country, it no longer had legislative functions. Finally in the 90s, with the German reunification, Berlin was once again the capital of the nation and the Reichstag was completely renovated to be the seat of parliament. Its imposing glass dome was designed by Norman Foster and represents the transparency that politics should have. Uploading to it is free, you just have to order your tickets online or at the ticket offices at the entrance. Do not forget your passport!
If you want to visit the remains of the wall that marked the history of Berlin to this day, we recommend taking a walk through the places where its structure is still standing. In the East Side Gallery you can see a section of 1,316 meters, all intervened by more than a hundred artists from around the world. But if you want to see it in its original state, as it was in the years of the cold war, we recommend you take a tour of Die Maure, a modern 360 theater located at the corner of the Checkpoint charlie, where you can travel in time, through The history of the wall. Nearby, in the museum “topography of terror” is a section of about 100 meters in a completely original state.
Berlin has some of the most important museums around the world and this island located in the center of the city, has no more or less than five of them, all declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. And among all of them they form a vast imposing art and history collections. Here in a few meters away we will find the Old Museum, The New Museum, the Old National Gallery, Bode Museum and the famous Pergamon Museum. Inside, we will see an incredible sample of archeological objects from the ancient world, as well as one of the most important art collections in all of Europe, covering different styles and eras, from ancient times to the 19th century.
The Currywurst and the Döner Kebab are undoubtedly the star dishes of the Berlin street food and a trip to this city would not be complete until you try them both. Currywurst is the typical German roast sausage, to which a spicy ketchup with curry is added above (and significant amounts), they are usually served accompanied by french fries and I eat from breakfast to dinner. Döner Kebab positions were born thanks to Arab immigration to the city and soon became one of the favorite snacks of the locals. We see this in the streets, where we can not walk more than one street without running into a donner stand to eat!
The history of the capital of Germany begins with the union of two villages that were founded around the years 1200, Berlin and Cölln. These two villages come together in 1307, a new city being born in the lands of what is now the island of museums. Over the years, the young Berlin grew, until it became an important city of the Holy Roman Empire.
But the glory for Berlin would come in 1701 with the coronation of Frederick I as king of Prussia. This monarch chooses Berlin as the seat of his reign, making it the capital of Prussia. In that real year the metropolis is gaining popularity in the world, large palaces, cathedrals and museums are built, leaving Berlin at the height of any other imperial capital.
But all this era of bonanza ends with the twentieth century and the final defeat suffered by Prussia in the First World War. With this the Hohenzollern dynasty comes to an end, the monarchical regime disappears and the Weimar Republic is established. Already without monarchy and those without the rules of conduct of Prussianism, Berliners discover a new world in the arts, in those crazy 20s, where the city is enshrined as one of the cultural epicenters of the world.
The belle epoque and artistic freedoms, made Berlin compete with Paris and Vienna, as European intellectual capital. Although with the economic crisis of 29, all these freedoms ended and quickly led to fascism and the rise of National Socialism. The burning of books in the opera square by members of the Nazi party, was only the beginning of what will lead to one of the darkest stages in the history of mankind.
During World War II Berlin was bombed about 363 times, leaving more than 30% percent of it totally in ruins. But the worst part came in the last days of the war, during the battle of Berlin, when house-to-house fighting was fought against Soviet troops. When the war ended, Germany was divided among the victorious nations and a prolonged plan of desnazinacion was applied. The country was divided into two, a pro-capitalist and a pro-communist nation, a division that also arrived in Berlin.
For some years Berliners could move from one country to another, just by crossing a street. They could work on a western side, charging in a stronger currency and living on the socialist side enjoying the benefits that this brought. But this literally ended overnight, when one morning in 1961, the GDR built a wall to separate the two parts of Berlin, ending the massive emigration of Germans from east to west.
This wall that separated friends and family within the same city became famous in the world and was all in emblem of the cold war. Only in 1989 the GDR regime agreed to end it, allowing the free movement of citizens. The following year with the German Reunification the GDR disappeared, and a year later in 1990 it was voted to move Bonn’s capital back to Berlin.
All this rich and exciting history was leaving marks in every corner of the city, making Berlin a truly fascinating destination. A city in constant construction, which is still repairing the traces of war and its communist era.