Source: Croatian Traveller
Marlene Dietrich, Berlin’s blue angel, sang I Still Have a Suitcase in Berlin some eight decades ago, dreaming of returning to her home town from which she was exiled for political reasons in the 1930s. After it suffered through the destruction of war, the many years of being divided into the western and eastern part of the city by the wall and the subsequent reunion, Berlin has transformed into a multicultural center of Europe, a city of fashion, art, youth and popular culture – it is one of the places in the world that does not allow a sensitive artistic soul to grow old. Marlene would definitely fit in here. Fans of jazz music would definitely welcome her with great pleasure to the famous A-Train jazz club in Charlottenburg, former heart of the West Berlin.
Apart from the turbulent history and rich night life, there are many reasons for you to visit the German capital. Located on rivers Spree and Havel, it has a population of 3,392,026. Berlin saw the end of war in 1945 completely destroyed by Allied bombs. After the war, it was divided into four zones that were controlled by the US, Great Britain, France and the former Soviet Union. As a result of political and economic tensions caused by the Cold War, 13 August 1961 saw the construction of the infamous wall that divided the city into the eastern Russian, and American-French-British western part. After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc in 1989 and the reunification of Germany 1990, Checkpoint Charlie, the famous crossing between the western and eastern side of Berlin, became one of the chief tourist attractions in Berlin along with the remains of the wall. The existing parts of the wall are painted and create some sort of an exhibition in the open, the so-called East Side Gallery. West from the center of the city are the Brandenburg Gates – the only remaining city gates and Berlin’s chief symbol. North of them is the Reichstag, the German Parliament, open for public, and to the south of them is the European
Memorial Center, dedicated to the suffering of Jews in WWII.
The city’s multicultural character also contributed to the gastronomy. Indian, Russian, Pakistani, Chinese, Japanese and other exotic restaurants can mostly be found in the Wedding district in the center of the city that is largely populated by the immigrants. That is also where the Croatian catholic mission is. Wedding is also the center of the clubbing scene. Numerous clubs offer young bands a place to make their name. The old district of Prenzlauerberg in the eastern part of the town is
very similar in concept.
Currently the most popular part of Berlin is Kreuzberg. That is where the second generation of immigrants mostly lives. It used to be surrounded by the Wall on three sides, and it was the hotspot of alternative gatherings before the Wall came down. Kreuzberg is the gathering place of mostly young artists from around the world, free from the burden of the political and family situation, hungry for freedom. Numerous bars and exotic restaurants that are open until the early morning hours also adorn this district. Lovers of spices, assorted fruits and vegetables go shopping on the Turkish market of Maybach. If you like tea, make sure to visit one of the rustic Tajikistan tea houses. Drinking black tea and vodka with a dessert made of assorted fruits to the sounds of the traditional music is a special ritual lasting several hours. Berlin is also the center of education, a student city. Perhaps all this fun is the reason why so many young people from around the world come to study here?!
Right next to the Wedding district is another popular place for relaxation – the Tiergarten. Taking into account the unpleasant continental climate, the people of Berlin use every sunny moment to enjoy nature, have a barbecue and socialize. The park is also home to the Philharmonic, the Bauhaus Archiv museum and the famous Zoologischer Garten Berlin. The zoo is the biggest and richest in Europe when it comes to the number of species on display. Polar bear named Knut, zoo’s latest attraction, unfortunately died recently. The bear is Berlin’s trademark (Bär means bear in German), and the bear can also be found on the city’s coat of arms. The garden also has an aquarium worthy of visit. Berlin has one more zoo, the Tierpark Friedrichsfelde. There is also the Tempelhof, the airport of former West Berlin, used by the Americans to bring supplies to the people of Berlin during the Soviet blockade. It has since been converted into a giant park.
Did you know that Berlin has more channels than Venice? The favorite spot for the people of Berlin in the spring are the banks of Landwehrkanal. Don’t be surprised if you see someone walking the rope or juggling there. Berlin is also known for its vistas. The 368-meter high television tower near Alexanderplatz in the center of the city, opens the view of the entire city. It is difficult to say which view is better, daily or nightly, since both are quite attractive.
The public transportation is one of the chief advantages of the German’s capitol. The subway and surface trains, trams and buses are very accurate. If you visit Berlin and don’t visit one of its 153 museums, it is equal to visiting Rome and not seeing the Pope. The Museum Island, listed on the UNESCO’s world heritage list, is home to five museums: Pergam Museum, Old Museum, New Museum, Bode Museum and the Old National Gallery. One of the priceless exhibits in the New Museum is the head of Egyptian queen Nefertiti, while the Pergamon Museum, among others, holds the Pergamon Altar, the Babylon gate of goddess Ishtar, Code of Hamurabi. Berlin also has more than 400 art galleries and is home to the European film academy and industry. It is also home to the Berlin Film Festival that is visited every February by numerous acting stars from around the world. Along with the film festival, Berlin is also the venue for music and technology festivals. Lovers of opera and theater should definitely visit the State Opera, Komische Opera, and one of the 50 theaters. Berlin also boasts a long history of gay culture. Every June, Berlin is host to the famous Berlin Pride, the biggest gathering of gay people in Europe, and there are also a lot of gay clubs around the city.
Kurfürstendamm, or Ku'damm as it is colloquially called, is the city’s chief avenue. That is where the ruins of the Crkve sjećanja are, damaged in WWII. Ku'damm is a shopping zone and home to Kadewe, Europe’s biggest department store. For the lovers of second hand clothes we recommend the Straße des 17. Juni near the Brandenburger Gate, with its flea market that is held every Saturday. After the long stroll through the city, it is best to get refreshed with the traditional Berlin specialty, currywurst, sausage covered with in tomato and curry sauce.