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August 21, 2018

Berlin part 2: Reunited and It Feels So Good

by Steve Winogradsky

AMPELMANN, the Berlin Walking Man and symbol of the city
Coupled with the many monuments and references to World War II and the Communist regime, Berlin can be depressing if that is all one wishes to see. However, there are also many beautiful parts of Berlin to enjoy. Much of the city has been rebuilt after the bombings of WWII, but there are some older buildings still standing.

Built in 1791, one of the older sites that remains breathtaking is the Brandenburg Gate, a former symbol of a divided city. Remember that the City of Berlin was surrounded by Communist-controlled East Germany. To get into West Berlin from West Germany, one had to drive through East German territory and pass through the Brandenburg Gate. Shortly after the city was divided by the Allies (U.S., France, England and the Soviet Union), in mid-1948, the Soviets ordered a blockade of all forms of ground transportation (trucks, trains and boats) to West Berlin, cutting off the city from receiving supplies. The Western Allied powers organized an airlift that flew into West Berlin that was so successful, the Soviets called off the blockade less than a year later. But it highlighted the political differences of this divided city. After reunification, the Brandenburg Gate became a symbol of unity.



The Berlin Victory Column was designed to commemorate victory in the Danish Prussian War and was initially completed in 1873. Later, a bronze sculpture, "Victoria", was added at the top. The Nazis moved it from its original location in front of the Reichstag to a major five-way intersection, which probably saved it from destruction when the Reichstag was bombed during WWII. It stands 67 meters (220 feet) tall.



One of the most impressive newer structures is the Berlin TV Tower, the tallest building in Germany at 368 meters (1200 feet) high, with an observation deck at 203 meters (666 feet) high. Built by the German Democratic Republic (the Communist-controlled East German government) in 1969, the Tower can be seen from many parts of the city. Ironically, despite the anti-religious stance of the Communists, at certain times of the day the sunlight reflects off the globe at the top in the shape of a cross.


There is a mix of old, rebuilt old and newer modern buildings throughout the town.

Twin churches: one for the German Lutherans, one for the French Huguenots.



The Reichstag





There are also some world class museums, like the Pergamon Museum, which houses the Ishtar Gate from Babylon, created in the 6th century BC.

And this is only part of it!
There is also a Prayer Niche from the Beyhekim Mosque.


Berlin also has the Gemäldegalerie, which includes works by Peter Paul Rubens and Botticelli.

St. Sebastian, by Rubens

Venus, by Botticelli
As in many European cities, there are statues all over town celebrating persons of note from various walks of life, such as:

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Beethoven

Mozart

General Bismarck
There is also a Museum of Musical Instruments that features keyboards and string instruments 400-500 years old.

Berlin has so much to see that we spent two weeks exploring the city and still did not see everything we had hoped to. As a major European capital, with a lot of history (both good and bad), Berlin should be on your list of places to go.



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