Berlin is a city of many faces – known as a magnet for history buffs, a tumultuous 20th century left Berlin filled with powerful sights ranging from evocative memorials and surviving bits of its communist and fascist days, to its glass-domed Reichstag. It is also a destination for families thanks to a wealth of green spaces that includes the sprawling Tiergarten, the Sunday flea market at Mauerpark and the Volkspark Friedrichshain.
The German capital has an excellent collection of museums that cover specific periods of the city’s history, but The Story of Berlin is the only one that covers Berlin from its days as a marshy backwater to the present.
Things To See & Do
- Checkpoint Charlie and The Mauer Museum – If you are interested in the Cold War then Checkpoint Charlie was the main entry point for visitors wanting to cross the infamous Iron Curtain to East Berlin during the division of the city. Built with its original “look” in mind, the attraction comes with border guards outside and a museum featuring tales of escapees (would-be and successful) plus a range of memorabilia and interesting exhibits.
- Reichstag – The seat of the German Parliament is also one of Berlin’s most famed landmarks. From “mysteriously” burning down in 1933 to being abandoned, then wrapped in a million square feet of fireproof polypropylene fabric by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, and finally being capped with a fancy transparent dome designed by Sir Norman Foster, the building has enjoyed its fair share of ups and downs.
- Museum Island – The Unesco heritage Museum Island has five conveniently adjacent museums, all located on an accessible “island” along the river Spree. Each museum is a destination in its own right and deserves at least half a day to explore. The Pergamon Museum has vast treasures from the Ancient Near East and Islamic art, the Neues Museum holds Egyptian, prehistoric and classical treats, while the Bode Museum has an outstanding sculpture collection. Combination tickets are available for all five museums.
- Jewish Museum – Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum is a must-see in Berlin, both historically and architecturally. Its contents cover more than 2,000 years of Jewish history (from the Roman era to the present day), arranged in 14 different rooms and areas.
- Berlin Zoo – Germany’s oldest zoo occupies a generous corner of the Tiergarten park. It is home to more than 15,000 animals, giant pandas included – many (but not all) in large, open natural areas. The zoo also features Europe’s most modern birdhouse, with more than 550 species, and the aquarium has 9,000 species of fish, amphibians, creepy crawlies and other fascinating creatures.