THE BKB TRAVEL GUIDE “3 DAYS IN BERLIN”
You will find detailed information for preparing and enjoying your trip to Berlin in our guidebook “3 Days in Berlin”. Compact, easy to use and informative! A programme for three days, a city plan, special tips and addresses. We show you the highlights, the pleasant districts, take a break with you, and tell stories … just as much as you need for three days! “3 Days in Berlin” is available as a paperback from your bookstore or from the BKB shop, where you can also buy it as an ebook!
The travel guide “3 Days in ” is available in german or english language in the BKB Shop or in your bookstore!
The texts and images on our website are to help you get your bearings and plan your trip to Berlin. All the information has been carefully checked by the 3-Days-in editorial team and they are continually updated. Nevertheless, it is possible that some details are incomplete or out of date. We are therefore grateful for every correction or addition to our information. Please send your hints to: email@example.com
TIPS FROM THE VISIT-THE-CITY EDITORS FOR YOUR 3-DAY-TRIP TO BERLIN
Berlin, the old and new capital of Germany, which has made its comeback on the world stage after a turbulent history of rule by Prussia, the Nazis and the Allies, and decades of existence as an island of the West surrounded by East Germany. Today Berlin is regarded as one of the most exciting cities in Europe: for design and architecture, fashion and art, theatre and clubs, the Berlin scene is fastmoving, and there is something new to discover all the time and everywhere you look .
AT THE “GENDARMENMARKT”
What is probably Berlin’s most attractive square has something for (almost) all the senses: a fine architectural ensemble consisting of the Konzerthaus, Deutscher Dom and Französischer Dom, classical music and high-end gastronomy. Gendarmenmarkt was laid out over 300 years ago as a marketplace, and later took its name from the “gens d’armes”, a royal cavalry regiment. Many Huguenots, Protestants who had fled from France, settled in this quarter. In the early 18th century they built their own church on the north side of the square. As a counterpart to it, a second church was built at the same time for Prussian Protestants. Both churches are dominated by massive domes, which gave them their present-day names: – the French Dom and the German Dom..
FROM THE BOULEVARD “UNTER DEN LINDEN”…
At Schinkel’s Schlossbrücke (Palace Bridge), with its sculptures of white Carrara marble and wrought-iron balustrades, you have reached Berlin’s most famous boulevard: Unter den Linden (Beneath the Limes). On the site of a riding pat1h1 from the Schloss (palace) to the Tiergarten, Elector Friedrich Wilhelm ordered the planting of 1000 lime trees and 1000
walnut trees in 1647. Only the lime giving the name to this street, which almost a century later, when Pariser Platz was laid out, became a showcase avenue with fine buildings. The lime trees that stand here now are less impressive. They date from the post-war period, as the Nazis cut down all the trees and widened the road to hold their parades.
…TO THE “PARISER PLATZ”
When leaving the Adlon, you have a view of the “reception parlour” of old Berlin: laid out in the 18th century as a parade ground and square in front of the city gate, Par- iser Platz gained its name when Prussian troops entered Paris in 1814. It soon became one of the highest-class residential addresses in the city. After devastation in World War II, the square was a patch of wasteland in the GDR era and part of the border between East and West. Since reunification, it has been reconstructed in its old dimensions without exact restoration of the previous historical architecture. Now such prominent buildings as the embassy of the United States, the Academy of Arts and the DZ Bank by star architect Frank Gehry stand here.
THE BRANDENBURG GATE
The conclusion and crowning glory of a walk along Unter den Linden is the Brandenburg Gate. Walled up for almost 30 years, it was known across the world as a symbol of the division of Germany, and its opening in December 1989 symbolised reunification. With its five entrance passages and huge quadriga, the four-horsed chariot at the top, this city gate, built by Langhans and modelled on the Propylaea of the Acropolis in Athens, it is the monu- mental termination of the showcase avenue Unter den Linden. Since its inauguration in 1791, the gate has witnessed many historic events: when he entered Berlin in triumph in 1806, Napoleon had the quadriga taken as war booty and removed to Paris, from where it returned eight years later following the Wars of Liberation. In 1933 the Nazis staged their torchlight procession here, in 1945 the Soviet flag was raised on the gate, and on 17 June 1953 a workers’ revolt was bloodily suppressed here.
PAY A VISIT TO THE PARLIAMENT
Don’t be surprised to see long queues of people standing in front of the Reichstag building every day. Most visitors to the seat of the German parliament, the Bundestag, come with one purpose, to enjoy the view of the city from Norman Foster’s glass dome and to look down into the chamber of the Bundestag below. The Reichstag itself, designed by Paul Wallot and completed in 1894 for the parliament of the German Empire, reflects the history of Germany as few other buildings do. Severely damaged in the Second World War, the Reichstag was rebuilt in a simpler fashion in the 1960s without the dome, which had been blown up in 1945, and no longer took centre stage in German life. After reunification it finally regained its historic role, when a Bundestag representing the whole of Germany assembled here for its inaugural session on 20 December 1990.
THE HEART OF POLITICAL POWER
The residence of the German Chancellor facing the Parliament. The centre of the complex is a nine-storey building whose glass façades are characterised by high, white stelae. The tall semi-circle in the façade of the middle part of the building has given the building the nickname “federal washing machine”. On both sides, lower, long office wings enclose the Ehrenhof (court of honour) with a monumental iron sculpture called Berlin by the Basque artist Eduardo Chillida.
RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF BERLIN
Just as Potsdamer Platz was synonymous with the vibrant life of the German capital in the Golden Twenties, today it epitomises the new metropolis Berlin. On a site where war damage and the Wall left behind a huge area of wasteland a new chapter began some years ago: the names of companies such as Sony, Debis and Daimler shine out above office high-rises of stone, steel and glass at the sides of the broad thoroughfare of Potsdamer Strasse. Cinemaxx, an IMAX cinema, a casino, a musical theater, restaurants, night clubs and multistorey shopping mall called Potsdamer Platz Arkaden in Daimler-City attract visitors from across the world. In the Sony Center with its 26-storey, semi-circular curving tower and tent-like roof there are further attractions: the Filmmuseum and the Kaisersaal of the old Grandhotel Esplanade. For a breathtaking panorama of Berlin, take the fastest passenger lift in Eurpe to the viewing deck of the Kollhoff-Tower opposite. Here you can learn about the history of the site in an open-air exhibition.
AT NIGHT: TAKE YOUR CHOISE
The German capital has a legendary nightlife and fully lives up to its reputation as Europe‘s number-one party city. Whether you prefer culture or clubbing, jazz or techno, Berlin seems to have unlimited alternatives, and there are plenty of hotspots for the night scene. If you would like to spend a cultural evening, the choice is extremely wide in Berlin: there is a varied theatre scene, ranging from the famous Berliner Ensemble to the experimental Maxim Gorki Theater and small off-theatres. For biting political satire or comedy, the companies named Wühlmäuse and Distel & Co are the right place. Opera fans find three big opera houses in Berlin with a unique repertoire, while the choice of concerts for lovers of classical music is much more than the renowned Berlin Philharmonic . For lighter entertainment there are musicals and large-scale variety shows in the Friedrichstadt- Palast, Wintergarten and Theater des Westens. Those who want to dive into the nightlife are spoilt for choice! Berlin is a Mecca for clubs, where night owls can dance until the early morning . Find more information in “3 Days in Berlin“.
Don’t miss the place that is known to many from thrillers and spy novels, or from films such as James Bond’s “Octopussy” and John le Carré ́s “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”. Today only a guard hut and a sign serve as reminders of a border crossing point that was once heavily guarded and is at the centre of many spy stories: from 1961 to 1990 the American-controlled Checkpoint Charlie was the only point at which foreigners could pass from West to East Berlin.
THE JEWISH MUSEUM
Bizarrely shaped leaning windows, empty concrete shafts, massive barriers, and an irregular-looking wooden porch are just a few of the features of Daniel Libeskind’s world-famous zigzag building for the Jewish Museum, which is intended to make the destruction of Jewish life in Germany physically palpable . Anyone who has stood in the Garden of Exile on thesloping ground between high concrete stelae or in the dark Holocaust Tower can confirm this.
Not only the architecture is spectacular . The exhibition is a journey of discovery through two millennia of German-Jewish history. Historic documents such as the regulations for “Jews’ Alley” in Speyer dating from 1348–49, artistic items such as a Tora cover with the Prussian eagle, and items of daily life such as a collecting box for establishing Jewish communal life in Palestine tell the story of Jewish culture in Germany from the Middle Ages to the present.
THE HEADQUARTER OF TERROR
A remarkable place of memorial: a site on Niederkirchnerstrasse that was occupied during the “Third Reich” by the most important organs of National Socialist persecution and terror: the headquarters of the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo), the Reich leadership of the SS, Sicherheitsdienst (SD; Security Service) of the SS and the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Security Office). The permanent exhibition informs visitors about these institutions and the crimes they committed across Europe, and a circuit of the excavations takes in 15 stations that tell the history of the site . Here you also pass the longest section of the Berlin Wall that survives in the city centre.
A PLACE TO REMEMBER THE SHOAH
Whether it is at all possible to formulate an artistic vocabulary for a tragedy such as the Holocaust is something that we all have to decide for ourselves. Peter Eisenman’s endless field of stelae, which immerses the viewer in a wavy sea of standing and lying cuboid blocks, creating a tranquillity that transcends the place, has set standards for the art of commemoration . In the subterranean information centre, the names of some four million murdered Jews are listed, and a wealth of information about the victims and places of persecution is provided.
IMPRESSIONS OF THE BAROQUE PERIOD
If you prefer to follow in the footsteps of the Hohenzollern ruling family, you can enjoy one of the most magnificent Baroque palaces and parks in Germany. Originating in 1695 as a pleasure palace for Electress Sophie Charlotte, it became an impressive residence with splendidly furnished rooms and apartments. Within, Baroque rooms in their original form, with art and furnishings from many centuries, are open to visitors. Masterpieces of French Rococo painting, including famous works by Watteau, adorn the royal apartments in Knobelsdorff’s New Wing. After viewing the palace, stroll through its garden, where the Baroque parterre adjoins an 18th-century English landscape park.
NOT TO FORGET THE SHOPPING
Chic boutiques, exclusive designer stores and second-hand shops – there are many options for shopping around Ku’damm, Friedrichstrasse, the Scheunenviertel district and in Kreuzberg:
KURFÜRSTENDAMM: From a ride for the prince electors to an avenue for promenading – this is the history of the boulevard that is still Berlin’s best-known street for taking a stroll. It is pleasant to make detours into the side streets, where high-class design shops, antique dealers and galleries do business.
FRIEDRICHSTRASSE About 3.3 kilometres long, it is the place for shopping and entertainment where history, commerce and culture meet in stylishly designed buildings. The absolute number one under the roof of an all-glass building by the French architect Jean Nouvel are the Galeries Lafayette, the only branch outside France of the exclusive Pa- risian department store. Next door in the Art Deco surroundings of Quartiers 206 you will find one store next to another run by the international fashion elite.
SCHEUNENVIERTEL: This quarter around the Hackesche Höfe is paradise for fashion lovers. Between Rosenthaler Platz, Hackescher Markt and Sophienkirche many galleries, fash- ion stores, small shops, restaurants, cafés and theatres have opened up, drawing customers until late at night. In the district around Alte Schönhauser Strasse and Mulackstrasse, wares by international cult labels and Berlin designers such as Lala Berlin, C’est tout and Ha Duong can be found in numerous little bou- tiques and flagship stores.
The square that has been known as Alexanderplatz since Tsar Alexander I. paid a visit in 1805. It used to be one of the busiest squares in the city, and a famous Berlin novel by Alfred Döblin was named after it. Converted to a socialist-style space during the GDR years, it has been undergoing a thorough transformation for several years now. A lot has changed already: trams now cross the square again, the Centrum Warenhaus (today Galleria Kaufhof) and the Berolinahaus have been restored, the surface of the square, including the Brunnen der Völkerfreundschaft (Fountain of Peoples’ Friendship) and the Weltzeituhr (World Clock) have been renewed. At 365 metres the TV tower which opened in 1969, is Germany’s tallest structure. When visibility is good you can see 40 kilometers from the revolving panorama café.
THE TOWN HALL ” ROTES RATHAUS”
Close beside the Berlin-Radiotower you will find the “Red City Hall”, the seat of the senate of Berlin. “Red” is not a reference to politics but to the red brick of which this building with its conspicuous 74-metre-high tower ist built. On its façade 36 terracotta panels narrate the history of Berlin from its beginnings to the foundation of the German Empire in 1871.
THE OLD JEWISH QUARTER
This walk continues across the river Spree to the quarter around the courtyards named Hackesche Höfe. This district takes its name from barns (Scheunen) that were once filled with hay and straw, and were moved by Friedrich Wilhelm, the Great Elector, outside the city walls. In what used to be Berlin’s backyard ,a district vividly described by Alfred Döblin in his novel “Berlin Alexanderplatz”, galleries, fashion boutiques, other small shops, restaurants, cafés and theaters have now been established. The finest buildings include the Hackesche Höfe, a complex of eight courtyards covering 10,000 square metres which has been returned to its original planned use dating from 1900 with craft shops, retail stores, places of entertainment and homes.
THE BERLIN CATHEDRAL
No-one who enters this opulently decorated neo-Baroque cathedral can fail to marvel at its extravagant interior fittings of marble, stucco and gold, magnificently colourful stained-glass windows and mosaics. This seems to be at odds with the soberness of Protestantism.
But when Emperor Wilhelm II planned this new court church and place of burial for the Hohenzollern dynasty around the year 1900, he wanted a Protestant answer to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Thus visitors to the Hohenzollern crypt can admire the splendour of the sarcophaguses and funeral monu- ments of many members of the for- mer royal house of Prussia: the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm, Electress Dorothea, the first King in Prussia, Friedrich I, and Queen Sophie Char- lotte were laid to rest here.
ON THE LIST OF UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE: THE “MUSEUMSINSEL”
Admiring the most beautiful woman in Berlin and a city gate from the “Seven Ancient Wonders of the World” – part of the programme when visiting a museum ensemble that is unique in the world. Whether you are interested in the fine arts, historic architecture or history, on Museumsinsel (Museum Island), where treasures from 6,000 years of history are presented, you will find something to like.
Since the museum complex was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage in 1999, restoration has been proceeding step by step . By 2025–26 it is intended that the masterplan for the island will have been fully implemented . The architectural autonomy of the separate buildings will remain, but a new entrance building and an Archaeological Promenade will connect them and allow visitors to perceive them as one museum complex.
From the Lustgarten the eye is drawn to the Neo- classical façade of the Alten Museums. With its portico of 18 columns this building – conceived by Schinkel as the counterpart to the Stadtschloss – is the overture to Museum Island and home to the collection of antiquities. Behind it lies the Neues Museum and to the east the temple-like Alten Nationalgalerie, wich presents 19th-century sculpture and paintings. Both are the work of Friedrich August Stüler, a pupil of Schinkel.
The James-Simon-Galerie between Kupfergraben and the Neues Museum will be the new entrance building.The work of the architect David Chipperfield , it takes up the motif of Stüler’s colonnades, thus relating to the neighboring Pergamonmuseum and blending harmoniously into the historic ensemble.
Copyright: All pictures BKB Verlag GmbH exept Quadriga on the Brandenburger Tor; Schloss Charlottenburg: visitBerlin, Foto: Wolfgang Scholvien; jazz group: visitBerlin, Foto: Günter Steffen; Altes Museum: fotolia.de/F. Krawen, Foto-ID: #123418510; : flag on the Reichstag: fotolia.de/AR Pictures, Foto-ID: #93731539; loading cargo: fotolia.de/Maria, Foto-ID #95648980; Yorckschlösschen: visitBerlin, Foto: Pierre Adenis; Jewish Museum/Foto: Jens Ziehe; Pergamon altar: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin/Margarete Büsing