Forget New York.
For the party animal, Berlin (among the cities in the world) is the party paradise, the first and original city that never sleeps. From tiny basement clubs to industrial techno palaces, beer gardens and cocktail taverns, sizzling cabarets of all persuasions, the city brings in all the hot live action not just after dark but pretty much into 24/7.
The biggest wonder of it all is that Berlin is also one distinct place, an important junction in recent world history encompassing culture, the arts, and movements in philosophy, religion and science. This kaleidoscope of achievements makes Berlin a world city of distinction with a kind of swagger all its own, but still always keeping in step with today’s beat.
Landmarks and top spots
The first thing that comes to mind visiting Berlin is its famous Brandenburg Gate. Standing as a symbol of division, Brandenburg has always been associated as the beating heart of the city that explodes with ideas, inspiration, art, culture and creativity.
The city’s Unter der Linden Boulevard extends towards Alexanderplatz Square, passing the Museum Island World Heritage site, including the Berlin Cathedral, the Neue Wache, and the baroque Zeughauz which houses today’s German National Museum.
Behind the Brandenberg is the Reichstag, home of the German Parliament with the famous glass dome over the session area remodeled by British Norman Foster. The glass roof allows a panoramic view of the city right from the center of government.
The Holocaust Museum/Memorial is near the Brandenberg Gates and the Reichstag. It has 2,700 stone slabs with some memento or letter from families who were separated in the war. Underneath the memorial is a museum. It is free and consists of only four rooms, one of which is darkened with a projector with the names of the people who died in the Holocaust.
At the eastern end of the boulevard is Museum Island (UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site). It houses five of Berlin’s most important museums. The two most famous ones are the Neues Museum, home to the Egyptian bust of Nefertiti.
The other is the Pergamon Museum, a recreated ancient Greek city. It houses original-sized monumental structures (the Pergamon altar, the market gate of Miletus, and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon which houses the transported parts taken from the original sites).
It also has a large Islamic collection and takes about two hours to go through the entire museum.
Another must-see is the Bauhaus Archiv where the utilitarian art school was founded. Today, the museum displays furniture, ceramics, prints, sculptures, photos and sketches created in its workshop.
Nights and beyond
People flock to Berlin for its spectacular night life, still with shades of Christopher Isherwood and immortalized by Liza Minnelli. The famous clubs is led by Berghain, called “the church” by the regulars, opens Saturday nights till Monday mornings. There’s also the Golden Gate (techno parties) that start Thursdays till Monday afternoons. Ditto with Goldengate and Watergate.
Even ‘non-club’ people are intoxicated by the open atmosphere, liberal attitudes, and eccentric spirit because these places cater to every taste.
As the visitor, you can discover for yourself why Berlin is the creative workshop of Germany, a trendsetter while being a capital of fashion, design, art and music.