Berlin, the capital and largest city of Germany, is rich in history, culture, politics, media, and science. The city's illustrious history was first documented in the 13th century and grew in prominence as the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, and the Third Reich. Today, Berlin's notoriety continues to flourish. It serves as a home to the world's most notable research universities, sporting events, museums, and orchestras. Additionally, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Every year, people from around the world visit Berlin to enjoy its diverse architecture, history, festivals, exuberant nightlife and contemporary arts.
Brandenburger Tor, or Brandenburger Gate, is a neoclassical triumphal arch rebuilt in the 18th century as a former gate for Berlin to symbolize peace. The gate was designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, Court Superintendent of Buildings and the task was delegated by King Friedrich Wilhelm II. Today, it is one of Germany's most popular landmarks. During the Cold War, the Brandenburger Gate was a part of the wall that surrounded Berlin. It was positioned near the border that separated East Berlin from West Berlin.
Berlin Zoological Garden
Berlin Zoological Garden, the oldest zoo in Germany, was built in 1844. However, it's aquarium opened in 1913. The zoo is located in Tiergarten, an urban public park that covers 84 acres. King Frederick William IV contributed to the development of the zoo by donating animals from his menagerie. By the early to mid 1900s, the animal population of the zoo soared. However, during World War II, the zoo was destroyed, leaving approximately 100 animals. Today, Berlin Zoological Garden attracts more than three million visitors annually due to its large selection of animals. Tourists can visit more than 17,000 animals from more than 1,500 different species, including polar bears, wolves, okapis, and giant pandas.
Charlottenburg Palace, located in Charlottenburg district of the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf Borough, is the largest palace in the city of Berlin. It is also Berlin's last royal residence predating the time of the House of Hohenzollern. From 1695 to 1699, the original palace "Lietzenburg," was designed and constructed by Johann Arnold Nering in a baroque style for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg. In 1705, Charlotte died, and the palace was renamed "Charlottenburg" in her honor and expanded. In 1713, Frederick I died and his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I, succeeded him and made more expansions to the palace. During World War II, the palace was severely damaged, but it was restored to its original glory in 1951.
The palace is a popular tourist attraction. Certain areas of the palace, like the Old Palace and the New Wing are opened to the public for an admission fee. Tourists will enjoy exploring the Baroque style of the Old Palace and its Porcelain Cabinet room filled with thousands of porcelain objects and crown jewels. The New Wing features decorations in Rococo style. All gardens are free for visitors.
The Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe is a 4.7-acre memorial that was created to pay homage to the Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. Construction started April 1, 2003, and it was not completed until Dec. 15, 2004. The memorial's design was created by architect Peter Eisenman. It features 2,711 rectangular, gray stone slabs that stand upright in rows. Each slab is the same width and length, however their height varies and creates a wave-like pattern. Eisenman's goal was to create an unsettling, bewildering atmosphere. For many years, the memorial was described as controversial and unnecessary. It has been criticized for only commemorating the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Visitors can walk through the memorial in any direction. Additionally, they can drop by a center located at the base of the memorial that provides stories of the victims who were affected by Nazi parties and information about the construction of the memorial.
Reichstag is one of Berlin's oldest landmarks and the seat of German Parliament. In 1872, the German Empire was established and Germany lacked a parliamentary building. In 1882, an architectural competition was held to find a design worthy to become the home for German Parliament. The winner of the competition was architect Paul WaIlot, who created a Neo-Baroque style building. By 1884, the foundation of Reichstag was laid and 10 years later, the building was completed and housed parliament until 1933 when it caught fire. During World War II, the Reichstag suffered further damage from the Soviets. After the war, the building was relocated to West Berlin, near the Berlin Wall. It was rebuilt between years of 1952 and 1972. However, the glass dome could not be saved. In the 1990s, a full restoration of the building was led by architect Norman Foster, who recreated the glass dome and hung it over the plenary hall. Once again, Reichstag was used for German Parliament.
Today, Reichstag refers to the building, while the modern name "Bundestag" refers to the institution. Only a section of Reichstag is opened to the public. Visitors can use an elevator that takes them up to the roof, or walk up a spiral walkway to explore the glass dome. However, visitors must register first before visiting the glass dome.