We took an insightful tour of Berlin with Insider Tours. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and spoke with eloquence and humour, which was great as the tour, which took us from Hackescher Markt to Brandenburg Tor, was about 4 hours long.
The tour was supposed to be a historical overview of Berlin and it was but it focused mostly on the Prussian monarchy, the Nazi legacy, and the Cold War. All the sights were in former East Berlin, and I would have liked for it to have included former West Berlin sights too.
Dammit! Who killed Bambi?: Not part of the tour but one of our first sights when we arrived at the Hackescher Markt S-Bhf.
Ampelmännchen: Also not part of the tour but I just love these pedestrian street lights. The ones with the hat are remnants from the former East Berlin. They are now a popular souvenir item.
One of the statues outside the Altes Museum.
Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with the Fersehnturm (TV tower) off to the side: construction began in 1747. It houses the crypt of the Hohenzollern family.
A copy of the 20th century sculpture Mother with her Dead Son by Kathe Kollwitz that sits under a circular opening (thus exposed to the elements) in der Neue Wache, a war memorial on Unter den Linden.
Stolperstein Arthur, Meta and Charlotte Kroner: these memorial stones are on Frierichstrasse. Throughout Berlin, these copper stones are in the pavement in front of houses of which the Jewish residents were murdered by the Nazi. They are laid by the artist, Gunter Demnig, but our guide told us that German schoolchildren are assigned families as a class to trace where they were born, who they were, and what happened to them, as a way to teach the Holocaust.
Checkpoint Charlie: Notorious crossing border on Friedrichstrasse between the American and Soviet sectors. It wasn’t the only crossing point as I know we used the one between the French and Soviet sectors most often.
Part of the Berlin Wall (officially the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart) left standing: this is the west side outer wall. We are standing in the Death Strip, a several hundred meter area between the two walls.
GDR-era mural still present on an outside wall of the German Finance Ministry, previously the Nazi Luftwaffe office. Don’t they look so content with their lot? My sisters used to wear those light blue scarves when they attended their pioneer movement events.
Holocaust Denkmal (Memorial): designed by a US architect, this memorial consisting of a field of concrete slabs of various sizes is next to the Brandenburg Tor. There is an information center below. There’s been lots of controversies surrounding it. One being the company responsible for a special anti-graffiti used to cover the stones was also involved in the persecution of the Jews.
The other controversy about the Holocaust Denkmal is that it ignores all the others that were persecuted by the Nazi. Hence there is now a memorial for the people persecuted for their sexual orientation elsewhere in the city.
Hotel Adlon: luxury 5-star hotel next to the Brandenburg Tor; originally built in 1907; popular with celebrities such as Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich; infamous for one of its windows being the location “Blanket” was dangled out of when the King of Pop was visiting a few years back.
The sculpture Quadriga crowns Brandenburger Tor, the quintessential symbol of Berlin. The gate was built in 1795. During the Cold War it was sealed off within the Death Strip. The sculpture was dismantled on Napolean’s orders and taken to Paris in 1806 only to return in 1814.
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