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What to see in Berlin, Germany

 
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vcppow's pictureby vcppow review
added on 14th of August, 2008

Berlin was immortalized in the film 'Cabaret' but the years after WWI represent just one colorful phase. Berlin is a very old city and many of its first buildings such as the Nicolaikirche and Marienkirche, both built between 1230 and 1292, can still be seen in the Nicolaiviertel area. Berlin was a trading hub in the 13th century and a recent excavation at the Pertriplatz uncovered an oak beam that dates to 1192, suggesting an earlier town.

Berlin grew from the fusion of two earlier settlements, Berlin and Cölln which were separated by the Spree River. At the midpoint of the next century, Berlin joined the Hanseatic League, a merchant association that regulated trade relations. At the end of the 15th century, Berlin’s population was about 8300 with 1100 buildings, including the first town hall, which was built on the site of the current Town Hall. 500 years of Hohenzollern reign had begun in Berlin and was commemorated in 1411 by initiating the building of what is now Berlin’s City Palace on an island in the Spree. Berlin’s importance rose until, in 1871, it was the capital of the German Reich and the nexus of business, politics and science. In 1879, the word’s first electric railway was demonstrated at an exhibition and in 1882 the Kurfürstendamm, a splendid promenade that is still enjoyed, was built.

The 20th century saw the building of the U-Bahn, still the speediest form of transport throughout Berlin and another city favorite, the Kaufhaus des Westens a department store at the Wittenbergplatz. Berlin’s population was now over 2 million, which was hard to sustain during WWI; poverty and starvation led to political unrest and labor strikes. The rise of Hitler and the National Socialist party ended the long history of democracy in Berlin. By the end of WWII Berlin’s Jewish population was reduced from about 160,000 to 1,400 by emigration and death in concentration camps.

The Wannsee Conference was held in 1942 nearby Berlin to discuss “final solution of the Jewish question,” in a house that is now a memorial. In 1940 Berlin experienced Allied bombing that damaged and destroyed many historic sites, including the original Sportpalais, site of the 1936 Olympics. The German Resistance to Hitler and the Third Reich is memorialized at the Bendlerblock and at the Plötzensee Memorial Center where many dissenters were executed in 1945. In April, Berlin surrendered to Allied Forces and on May 8, 1945 a treaty was signed in the Berlin suburb of Karlshorst, in a barracks that is now a memorial.

The city was subsequently divided into East and West Berlin, supervised by the USSR and the US, respectively. This division was physically embodied by erecting the Berlin wall which created a border between the two factions, friends and families. At the end of 1989 reunification efforts resulted in a new law that would allow travel between East and West Germany. On November 9, 1989 thousands of East Berliners went to Bornholmer Strasse to celebrate the opening of the border. The Berlin wall was later dismantled, small portions of it were sold as mementos. In recent years, Berlin has become a completely unified vibrant modern city.
 

Things about Berlin you may be interested in

 
 

Read about Berlin in our travel-guide
What to do in GermanyYou must see the Berlin Bundestag
 
 
 
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Recommended Berlin Guide

Berlin History

Berlin, GermanyThe next heir to the throne of Prussia was Frederick II.  He was known as Frederick the Great and under his rule, the country became a center of the Enlightenment.  Twenty-eight years later, Frederick William II, who opposed the Enlightenment, came into power and Berlin’s growth became all but stagnant. In 1806, under the rule of Napoleon, French troops invaded Berlin and made it a self-governing state.  After the French were defeated, Berlin became part of the Province of Brandenburg and in 1827, the city was made its capital.  This made the city part of Prussia again.  After several decades of war, Berlin was made the capital of the... Read more »

 
 
reviews

Recent reviews for Berlin

You must see the Berlin Bundestag - Apr 30, 2009, by erato
Berlin – Bundestag/Reichstag The Bundestag is the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany. The name Bundestag refers to the institution while the name Reichstag is used for the building. The architect of the original... Read more »

Places to visit free in Berlin - Apr 30, 2009, by erato
Berlin Sightseeing Berlin is one of the busiest capitals in Europe and still we, visitors must admit that it’s one of the most beautiful ones as well. city on its own is amazing, full of parks; Unequally among the European capitals... Read more »

Useful info about Berlin - May 1, 2009, by erato
One fact about Berlin, Germany: the 70% of the city stands of forest. So Berlin is one of the cleanest and most beautiful cities of the world, with a lot of parks and threes even in the center, what gives an unbeatable, calm and comfortable... Read more »

What you have to know about Berlin - Apr 30, 2009, by cipristb
Berlin City is the largest city of Germany with 3.4 million inhabitants and an area of 892 square km so the city became the capital of the country. Berlin had the first time the status of the capital in 1871 and this status was maintained... Read more »

What to do in Germany - Mar 7, 2008, by lindamura
Population: Aprox. 80Mio Major Airports: Franfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC), Berlin (BER, BML, TXL), Hamburg (HAM). When to Go: Typically the months of May-September are good to visit as the temperatures are not too cold. In the summer it's... Read more »

 
 

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